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Alumni Speak

‘At the IIMs, you learn more from your peers than in classrooms’

Utkarsh Thakur, an alumnus of Apeejay School, Nerul, who completed his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta, shares his IIM learning experience. Utkarsh is working with Reckitt, a British multinational consumer goods company, as an Area Sales Manager.



Peer learning is the most important learning there is during your MBA

In IIMs you learn more from your peers than you do in the classroom because you stay in close quarters with them for two years and form a tight bond. So, if today I need some help, I just need to call any one of my 400-plus batch mates and my problem will be resolved. By and large peer learning will be the most important learning that a student takes back from an IIM. You are surrounded by some of the best minds in the country and there’s constant exchange of ideas and diversity of opinions. For example, IIM Calcutta has a lot of sportspersons who are state and national level winners. I was not a sportsperson, but due the influence of my peers in IIM, I started playing tennis and it has now become a part of my daily routine. 

It isn’t just about intense studying

In IIM Calcutta, the focus is not just on academics. Of course, you study hard for exams and stay up all night, but there’s a major focus on non-academic domains as well. For example, I am a debater and secured second position in an inter-IIM debate competition. Students get an opportunity to hone their skills. The motto is: work hard and play hard.

Luck plays an important role in placements

I completed my MBA in 2020. At that time, around 85% of students easily managed to secure a job in campus placements, but the remaining ones had to struggle a bit. But, there is a culture of ‘No man left behind’ in IIM Calcutta and the placement committee ensures that everyone gets placed. Luck not academic brilliance plays a critical role in ensuring hassle-free placements. During placement season, a candidate has to give 10-15 interviews a day, so if you are not in the right frame of mind and don’t crack the first couple of interviews, the pressure to secure a job spirals. You are not able to give your best due to mounting pressure because of rejections.

Your real take-home pay is different from CTC

As far as packages are concerned, outsiders view astronomical salaries as the norm in IIMs, but what you get in hand is around 80% of the figure that was quoted. Cost-To-Company (CTC) is an expected income, but how much you get is subjective because a large chunk is the performance linked bonus. The gratuity and retention bonus is often included in the CTC, but you will only get it if you work with the same employer for at least 3-5 years.

Work skills can’t be taught in an institute

IIMs develop your thinking capabilities so that you are ready to face any challenge. However, the nitty-gritty that comes with a job can’t be taught in any MBA institute. You have to figure it out on the office floor. I am an Area Sales Manager with Reckitt, but no one in IIM Calcutta could have taught me how to go about my day-to-day business. There’s no substitute for practical experience. 

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]