is the question I get post often when I visit colleges or I meet up with students who are either in their final years of graduation or are on with some job. Having taught at many colleges over the years, I think I have arrived at some sense around it. And here it is- 3 years. Why 3 years? Why not 2 or 4 or even more?
3 years = year 1 to learn –> year 2 to deliver –> year 3 to teach!
In the past 10 years that I have been visiting schools and colleges across the country, I have just been excited by two things about students- sincerity and curiosity. Regardless of their brilliance or background or communication skills or any other usual suspect, what I look for in students is – how sincere they are to what they are upto and how much of curiosity do they possess. That’s it. To me that’s the difference between a successful students and the less successful one.
Now let’s talk about the relationship between the two factors to the years of experience that someone might have. Let’s take two cases. Students who have less than 3 years of working experience before entering into a B School and those who have more than 3.
Students with less than 3 years of working experience: Most of the students across Indian B Schools (barring a few IIMs or ISB) have no work experience at all, or have less than a year under the belt. Which essentially means they were ‘preparing’ for the CAT or GMAT in the exile. Many of them aren’t sure if MBA is the right course of action for them, or since their friends and family have insisted- they opted for it. And then begins the race that gets even more ugly as the placement season approaches. I have seen more than my share of students who take up jobs which have nothing to do with their MBA education, repaying their heavy educational loans. What is essentially missing is “Sincerity”. A sense of conscience on whether the education is appropriate, whether the college could have been better or whether the subjects taken are useful.
Students with more than 3 years of working experience: These are people with 5 or even more years of work behind them and are stuck somewhere in their organizational food-chain and need to now get some additional ‘degrees’ to hop on. The pure intent it to further the career. Rarely to learn something new. How good are five years of experience, when one has just repeated the same task 5 times over? What sets with these years of experience is- complacency. Most come with a perspective that I know it all and let me now ‘filter through’ what comes to me. This is what I call as – lack of curiosity. It kills the intent of teaching (and learning).
So here is my take- If you are a graduating student, don’t rush into an MBA course. Wait and take up some job to learn if you really need a management education. If you are a working soul, learn, deliver and teach quickly and then hop onto a good MBA course (if you see the worth). If you have spent a considerable time in the industry, keep walking!