Did you think that you were a hotshot just because you got into one of the top business schools? Of course, being proud is another thing because the journey from entrance exams to admission is arduous, but what follows next is where the bullets begin to fly!
Different students have different experiences with their MBA journey. Some may think it is exciting, others may feel it is humbling, and another group of people might think it is gruelling. But the common ground for all of them is that it is definitely not a bed of roses. There are several challenges that one is bound to face, but the intention that should stay constant no matter what is ‘not to give up under any circumstances’.
Challenges experienced by MBA Students and Possible Solutions
Whether you are considering pursuing an MBA degree or have already enrolled in a business school, knowing about the potential challenges on your way would help you prepare better. In short, the two years of an MBA curriculum are going to change your life for the better.
That is why apart from going through admission-related articles or interviews, emphasizing GMAT scores, or knowing about potential post-MBA opportunities, you need to realize the importance of the correct mindset and attitude throughout your MBA journey.
Note that some situations during your business school journey may seem to be challenging to you. Needless to say, all these challenges are just opportunities to gain new experiences and take your knowledge, skills, and expertise to the next level. In addition, challenges associated with the life of an MBA student help them to boost their networking skills and to attract more and more career prospects.
Learning from fellow students:
It seems easier to hear, but the execution may seem to be daunting from time to time. As an MBA student, you have to be open-minded and full of curiosity to gain knowledge from others. Do not hesitate to share your feedback or opinion wherever relevant.
In addition, keep yourself engaged in activities that can be added to your resume to influence employers later in placement drives. Do not forget to participate in the discussion to get into the limelight to get you ready for your future job responsibilities.
Getting habituated to critical thinking is also significant to soar high with your learning attitude. Needless to say, sharing and exchanging knowledge with peers offer new perspectives to see the world, which may open the doors to new and better opportunities.
Working in a Group:
Are you someone who has always been working on projects all by yourself? If yes, then it might be a bit challenging for you to work in teams throughout your MBA curriculum.
Most business schools keep promoting a cooperative ambiance where students can learn from each other and boost their knowledge, skills, and expertise. That means students, who love to act bossy, need to learn how to act and work in a team and complete a project together.
Alpha-type personalities may find it difficult to cope with the new situation. However, continuous improvement in their attitude can lead them to a better team member. And a better team player can prove to be a better leader in the future. Needless to say, employers evaluate all these qualities in a potential employee during recruitment drives.
Testing Innovative Business Ideas:
Budding entrepreneurs get golden opportunities throughout their MBA curriculum in terms of testing their business ideas. Note that it might be challenging, in the beginning, to come up with and share your ideas with peers and professors.
Balancing personal life and MBA coursework
The results of undergoing an MBA are sweet, rewarding, and pronounced. But nobody said that it was a bed of roses to begin with. The journey of an MBA is full of challenges and hurdles. Therefore, at times, one can definitely feel like giving up because of constant exhaustion, rejection, and commitment. This can lead to the accumulation of immense stress that can hamper the students’ personal lives and academic deliverables.
Although we know that balancing personal and professional lives is rarely easy, with careful planning and dedication, one can definitely make it. So, here are some tips that can help you create harmony between your personal life and MBA coursework.
- Prioritise what you want to do: Attending an MBA programme at a reputed business school can provide varied opportunities, which can often confuse students. This can also lead to a time crunch, and individuals may be forced to do things they have no interest in. Therefore, it is always better to give importance to your priorities and do things that you love or enjoy. When you do this, you will avoid unnecessary stress due to conflicts of interest.
- Plan in advance: Planning ahead makes everything easier. Imagine you already have a routine scheduled for you where you have a timeline for the completion of your assignments followed by study time, participation in cultural events, club meetings, etc. This will allow you to dedicate the other half of your routine to planning or executing your personal tasks with whatever free time you are left with.
- Cut down on social media and TV: Although we don’t realise it, we spend hours watching reels on Instagram, browsing through YouTube, or bingeing web series across OTT platforms. This is a major time-killer and can affect both your academic and personal schedules. Thus, rather than spending time on these applications, you can utilise it to develop your skills, such as vocabulary, through reading books, taking a crash course, etc.
- Eat healthy and exercise: It is very important to practise healthy eating, considering the sedentary lifestyles we all lead these days. Make a habit of eating balanced and nutritious food and combine it with daily exercise. This will help you to maintain your proper BMI (body mass index), feel active, and also keep your body and organs well-functioning.
- Confide in your parents and elders. When we grow up, we stop sharing things with our parents or elders because we feel they won’t understand us. However, this is not the truth. Our parents and elders are always there to guide and support us when we have needs. Therefore, avoid running away from them and seek help when you think you are in the middle of the sea.
Finding a balance between academic and professional responsibilities
The MBA is a time-consuming degree programme that requires a lot of dedication and commitment. Balancing work and an MBA is an arduous and demanding task. However, despite all the challenges of seeking an MBA, it is certainly possible to work full-time while completing the degree programme. This is particularly true of graduate students at Jain University’s CMS B-School, where we offer an environment that is flexible and supportive of working students.
To help you in your journey of finding a balance between academic and professional responsibilities, we have some tips and recommendations:
- Create a schedule: For a working individual, time conflict is bound to happen. It is very difficult to manage work commitments and also study simultaneously. Although at times our routines can become erratic due to unexpected meetings, etc., having a well-defined and planned schedule can help prevent the overlap of academic and professional commitments to a great extent.
- Leverage your abilities: During the MBA programme, you will come across several circumstances that will empower you to expand your capabilities. This will enable you to elevate yourself in your workspace and help you grab better opportunities.
- Take proper sleep and eat healthy: A lot of working professionals compromise on their sleep and eat junk because they ‘don’t’ find time’. However, proper time management can avoid this issue in general. Skipping sleep and healthy meals is fine for a day or two, but not on a regular basis. It will affect your health, work life, and academic life. Therefore, get adequate sleep of 7-8 hours and eat a balanced diet.
- Don’t waste time: doing an MBA itself is very demanding, and combining that with regular work is even more demanding. So, one must refrain from wasting time on unnecessary things that hold no value or importance on the professional or personal front.
Dealing with financial stress
Some of us are born with a silver spoon, and things are never handed to us on a golden plate. However, at times, this financial hustle can impact our lives in unimaginable ways. If you are a student who is also surrounded by financial stress, it can be even more disastrous as it can affect your performance directly.
According to a survey, students who have financial constraints are reported to have the following problems:
- Insomnia (lack of sleep) or erratic sleep cycles
- Tendency to adapt to sedentary behaviours like using social media or watching TV for more than two hours.
- Affinity towards junk or unhealthy food
- Skipping meals
- Increased cases of alcoholism
Needless to say, these behaviours can be detrimental to one’s growth in life. Therefore, here are some tips that can help ease your financial stress.
- Apply for Scholarships: Availing for scholarships can reduce the financial burden of meeting college expenses and give the students more breathing room to focus on their curriculum rather than working part-time. There are several B-schools in India that provide scholarships to the students to help them financially. One such example is Jain University, which offers scholarships in six different categories to encourage extraordinary talent in academics, sports, music, dance, and the literary arts. Scholarships are given to Indian citizens who are enrolled under JU and approved as per the eligibility criteria of the JAIN (deemed-to-be University) Scholarship Committee (JUSC).
- Follow a budget: As students, we often get attracted to trendy things that may be of no use to us after a couple of months or years. If you are under financial stress, create a reasonable monthly or weekly budget and allocate your funds accordingly. This will prevent the misuse of money on unnecessary things, and you can track your expenses properly.
- Indulge in Personal Savings: If you are working and planning to pursue an MBA in the future, the fundamental rule is to have a financial goal and save as much as possible to reach the goal. This will also give you a self-boost because you could study on your own expenses.
- Avail Educational Loans: These days, many people are opting for this in case they are unable to pay the fees on their own, and it is completely fine. Education loans are easily available now at low interest rates. You can talk to your own banking service provider and also check with other banks that provide the loan at the best interest rate possible within an optimum payback period.
- Check for sponsorships: Some companies sponsor their employees for their higher studies, provided they continue their employment with them for a long time. This can be advantageous for you, as you can continue working while studying and won’t have to job hunt once you are done with your degree! It can be a win-win situation.
Managing time effectively for both coursework and networking
MBA is considered one of the highest professional courses that groom individuals to fit into the global society. To ensure that one can attain their career objective after pursuing an MBA, they must build a diverse network of peers, mentors, professors, and industry experts who can help them climb the corporate ladder. But, it is definitely not easy to build a strong network overnight while managing the coursework and assignments. Managing time effectively to create a balance between the two is very important to give your resume an extra edge during referrals or recommendations.
So, to help you out, here are some tips on how you can enhance your networking skills while doing your coursework:
- Participate in class: Professors are impressed with how you perform in the class. You may not need to be an A-grade student, but you need to show active participation in the class. This will catch your professor’s eye, and you can build a good connection while also getting tips for your assignment from him or her.
- Set up study sessions: This is a very effective way of engaging with your peers, where you can study and exchange thoughts in a group session. This will improve your bonding and also help you create a strong network group with your own batchmates.
- Connect on social media: The power of social media has been tested and proven in modern times. It is a platform where you can find everyone—starting from your mentor, seniors, alumni, professors, or even classmates. Connecting with people over social media will help you stay in touch even after the classes or internships and build a long-term connection.
- Apply for internships or volunteer activities: The best place to meet industry experts or professionals is through internships or volunteer work. You can connect with people from different backgrounds and qualifications, which will help build a diverse network chain.
- Connect at career fairs: There is a golden chance of meeting experts from different professional backgrounds at career fairs. Employers and hiring teams from several companies also attendexperts from different professional backgrounds at career fairs. Employers and hiring teams from several companies also attend. As career fairs can be an important part of your field research, it is also a great opportunity to build an impression and connect with these professionals (which you can follow up with over social media).
Keeping up with the fast pace of the MBA curriculum
With the changing times, we have observed that MBA programmes are also evolving to match the expectations of the fast-paced world. From artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), cybersecurity, data analytics, and sustainability, we have come a long way in imparting how these streams can function more effectively with the Midas’ touch of MBA. These diversified MBA programmes are making sure that students get the resources they need to promote innovation and growth in the corporate environment of the twenty-first century.
But the biggest question is: how do students keep pace with the dynamics of the MBA curriculum? That’s why today we will give you a survival guide that will help you navigate the corridors of this programme efficiently!
- Say no to unhealthy comparisons. Staying competitive is good as long as you are growing and not harming others. However, the moment you start comparing yourself with others, it is going to affect your performance drastically. Your mental peace will be jeopardised, and you will always feel you are not enough. Everyone is gifted with a unique set of talents, and we must not compare ourselves with others. Therefore, the less you indulge in unhealthy forms of comparison, the more you will be able to progress in your academic journey.
- Seek excellence, not perfection. Human beings are flawed to begin with. Nobody is perfect, and we cannot become one no matter how hard we try. So, one must stop chasing the idea of perfection and rather seek for ‘excellence’. This will lead to constructive growth and development in human beings.
- Embrace Risks: Life without risks is boring and void. You can learn and adapt only when you decide to come out of your comfort zone and take risks. A large part of learning takes place outside the four walls of your classroom—and we don’t mean partying or clubbingur comfort zone and take risks. A large part of learning takes place outside the four walls of your classroom—and we don't mean partying or clubbing. You need to push your academic boundaries and welcome new things in your life so that you can also evolve and become better with time.
- Master the art of ‘time management. Time is one of the most precious gifts of nature. If you can use your time appropriately, you can excel by leaps and bounds. We understand that the MBA requires multi-tasking, and sometimes that can be tiresome amidst all the other commitments in life. However, with well-planned time management, one can actually balance the workload and grab all the opportunities that come along the way.
- Reach out for help: MBA can be overwhelming at times, and with the fast pace that it is moving at, we can understand the emotional roller coaster that can happen to you! On the one hand, you have lectures to attend, but you also need to submit assignments on time, network with people, and do internships and research papers. It is evident that you might feel dejected and have self-doubt. At such times, you must confide in your dearest ones, whom you think can empathise with you. Reaching out for help is not wrong, and you must break the stigma that it carries.
Adapting to the diverse backgrounds and opinions of classmates
Cultural diversity is rising these days in the classrooms. This is also applicable for B-schools where students come from different parts of the country. As India is very diverse, from its ethnicity, socio-economic status, and race to its religion, it is important that the students are culturally aware and accepting of these differences. For example, a student from Gujarat might have an opinion that is culturally correct from his point of view but totally alien to someone from Kerala. So, once we adapt and learn to accept people with different racial, religious, or cultural backgrounds, we become a part of the global world, and it also helps us adapt to diverse workplaces in the future.
Benefits of adapting to multi-cultural form of education
- Students become more empathetic and understanding of their peers.
- Students become open-minded and start breaking stereotypical mindsets.
- Each and every student feels confident, secure, and empowered.
- Students are industry-ready.
How can one adapt to the multi-cultural diversity of their classmates?
- Get to know your classmates without any bias. The first step to embracing cultural diversity is to introduce yourself and be introduced without any prejudice in mind. You must engage in active conversations and ask questions that arouse your curiosity. Although you may have your own opinion due to the differences, you must not let your opinion overrule your understanding of other people.
- Acknowledge and show respect to every individual. Our own cultural mindset can often create a barrier between us and our classmates. But what we fail to recognise is that we are all Indians, and we must acknowledge the differences and respect each other. When we can master this skill, we will be able to come out of our shell and create harmony inside and outside the classroom.
- Practise Cultural Sensitivity: While you must be open with your way of communicating, you must also be mindful of your classmates’ religious, racial, and cultural beliefs. Do not let your inquisitiveness hurt the feelings of others.
- Learn new languages: If you are interested in getting to know someone and understanding their culture, you can start by learning their language. Although learning a language is not easy, you can make your best efforts to understand and speak a little of what you can. This will make your classmates understand that you really want to befriend them and encourage good bonding.
- Say ‘NO’ to bullying: There could be people who might want to bully or harass others because they don’t look or speak like them. This is absolutely wrong, and you must not encourage or support it. Rather, you must fight for the victims and help them feel safe and comfortable in their new environment.
Staying motivated and focused amidst the high demands of the MBA program
You are expected to be all excited when you get your acceptance letter to your dream MBA college. However, that excitement will soon fade away once you get started with your degree. This is quite natural because you will have semesters, loads of topics to cover, assignments and projects to submit, internships to attend, and networking opportunities.
There will be low and high points during this journey, but despite the demanding circumstances, it is important to stay motivated and focused. Wonder how to do that? Come, let’s help you with some tips to make your journey easier!
- Remember why you joined: If you start having self-doubt or feel like giving up because you are unable to cope, remind yourself why you started this in the first place.
- Think about your future. When you start having low self-esteem, you must remind yourself of the bright future that awaits you—a great career, a good salary, and your dream lifestyle!
- Start managing your time properly. Sometimes, the reason you are unable to cope with your responsibilities is because you are poor at time management. Prepare a study routine and set timelines for each task. This will help you plan your day properly.
- Be in the right company: The company that you associate yourself with will determine your overall performance and enthusiasm for your work. Be surrounded with people who give positive energy and motivate you to be your best!
- Take breaks. Overburdening yourself with the studies can often lead to anxiety and stress. So, start taking small breaks to do things that you love or enjoy. You can go on short vacations or engage in your hobbies that make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
- Start meditating: Meditating helps you control your negative thoughts and allow positivity to sweep through your mind and soul. It also increases your concentration power and helps you focus more on your goals.
Overcoming imposter syndrome and self-doubt
Have you ever thought that you are not as good at your job as you think you are and that your boss and colleague can call you out at any point in time? Well, this isn’t something new and has been experienced by several corporate professionals since the 1970s. In psychology, this is termed imposter syndrome, or, in other words, doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud.
Imposter syndrome usually affects high achievers and ambitious people who want to be perfect at what they do. Sometimes, this can lead to self-doubt, and one can question their own identity. If not handled properly, imposter syndrome can actually lead to negative consequences.
If you want to overcome your imposter syndrome and feelings of self-doubt, you must start recognising your own potential and taking ownership of your achievements. Here are some ways in which you can overcome this.
- Create a clear distinction between facts and feelings. You may feel imposter syndrome creeping up on you at some point, but you must remind yourself that those are only your feelings and not reality. Once you are aware that you are not actually what you feel you are, you can also train your mind to accept it.
- Take credit and appreciation: A lot of us are shy and do not like blowing our own trumpet. However, this gradually turns to self-doubt at a certain point of time, where we start questioning if we even deserve it in the first place. So, start taking credit for projects and tasks that you have handled yourself, save the appreciation emails, and keep reminding yourself that you deserve it!
- Refrain from acts of comparison: We all grow at different rates in our lives and must not compare our skills with others. When we start comparing our accomplishments with others, that’s when the seed of self-doubt starts to creep in. We should rather focus on our skills and align our goals in that direction.
- Get help: Reaching out to a friend or a therapist should not turn into a ‘social-stigma’. If you feel like you are not able to cope and the feelings are overwhelming, you must seek support from a therapist or a friend. This will help you express your pain points, and you might gain your confidence back slowly!
Developing effective study and time management habits
Someone said that developing effective study habits is equivalent to managing time effectively. Time is undoubtedly the most valuable resource for anyone, and managing it appropriately will enhance your productivity. So, here are a few effective study and time management habits that will help you utilise your time to the optimum level.
- Recognise the best time of the day and study during those hours. Some people can concentrate more if it’s daytime, while others can focus more in the evening or night hours. Based on your bandwidth, you must adjust your study routine accordingly.
- Always plan your day in prior. This helps you to segregate your priorities for the next day, and you can accommodate other tasks such as an unexpected assignment, etc. accordingly. Always remember: Speculate to accumulate’.
- Stay organised: You can study effectively when you are surrounded by positive energy. This energy comes when you keep yourself and your things in an organised manner. Cluttered surroundings often lead to the accumulation of cluttered thoughts and confusion.
- Identify and avoid ‘time chokers’: We all have our very own habits that end up killing our time (referred to as time chokers), be it spending countless hours on OTT platforms or browsing through our social media. One must identify these time chokers and avoid associating with them for one’s own good.
- Set milestones for your study schedule: When we set mini goals that are aligned to reach our destination, we can achieve them very easily. For example, if you want to score full marks in any of your subjects, you can set milestones for the completion of every topic followed by mock practise and set a timer to it. This will help you achieve your goals in an appropriate manner.
- Use resources online: the Internet is a great boon if used for the right purposes. So, instead of wasting time trying to find answers for your assignments, you can use online tools and resources to help you. There are several platforms that can also give you a framework for your essays, extended projects, etc., and this will save you time and energy.
- Practise a healthy lifestyle: When you feel good, you can contribute the most to your studies. So, eat healthy, do exercise, and sleep adequately to stay focused and concentrated. Time spent doing constructive things will reap benefits for you in the future!
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
These days, the work commitment is more than just 9–5 working hours. The work stress often escalates to the personal life as well. So, how do we tackle this and create a healthy work-life balance? By following these simple steps!
- Time management: Try to use your time wisely because time is money. Always keep your work commitments in the workspace and do not extend them in your personal time. In the same way, do not mix up your personal commitments during working hours. This will create a proper balance between both of them.
- Set career goals. Steering a ship without any idea about the final destination will lead to destruction. Similarly, leading a career without an end goal or objective is like sailing a boat without a mast. You can progress in your personal life and fulfil your needs only when you set your career goals right.
- Give importance to personal life: Sometimes, we get so ambitious about buying a luxurious villa or a car that we tend to ignore things that are most precious to us, for example, quality time with family. You will be so immersed in your work that you will not find time to witness your kids growing up or attend to your old parents. So, prioritise your life too, and do not let your ambition ruin your personal life.
- Practise email culture: Sorting things over the phone or in meetings can be mentally exhausting and tedious. Initiate the practise of emailing, as it can save you time and energy. Also, unless there is an emergency, you must stop responding to work emails after your working hours. This will imbue a positive work-life balance.
- Eat, exercise, and sleep: Last but not least, a healthy mind gives birth to a healthy body. Your lifestyle will determine your work-life balance. You must start going to bed and getting up early to have a complete and adequate sleep cycle, coupled with healthy meals and daily exercises. All of these practises will keep you rejuvenated and motivated at work!
Wrapping it up!
Acquiring your MBA degree will furnish you with the'skills' and knowledge required for your success, and it requires a lot of time and effort on your part. Although the journey can be challenging, you must work out ways to keep up with your studies and meet your educational goals. You have to keep working to boost your confidence level to open up to others by giving feedback or sharing your scepticism. Ask as many questions as possible to your faculties to take your self-confidence to a new level. All these efforts would give you the desired courage to share and test your innovative business plans.
Challenges are there to make you a better individual. And when it comes to an MBA curriculum, you can gear yourself up as a competent professional by facing, addressing, and handling challenges.