IntroductionThe MBA students from unbranded University arts and science colleges or even engineering colleges face many problems. Let us first understand what is meant by "unbranded" in this respect. The term "unbranded" refers to any University department of any recognized University or any department of an affiliated college of such Universities, that has no formal placement department. There is no attempt whatsoever from the college to procure any internship for any student. These colleges are not in the same league as the branded B Schools in the metro cities. The latter has a good research orientation and their teachers are doctorates from leading Universities. They have publications in leading refereed journals around the world.
Such colleges are not bound by the strict University schools and can also offer good electives on contemporary subjects. The colleges also offer the PGDBA course. There are also branded colleges that function under an overall umbrella. For example, Thiagarajar School of Management Madurai offers a full-time MBA of the Madurai Kamaraj University
Thiagarajar School of Management is an autonomous college of the Madurai Kamaraj University. It offers the full-time PGDM course as an autonomous course. It should be noted that all PGDM courses are directly affiliated to the AICTE and do not come under the University at all. The B-school gives a PGDM which is recognized as equivalent to the MBA.
The same Thiagarajar School of Management Madurai offers a full-time MBA of the Madurai Kamaraj University. This MBA has also become branded and the inputs are far superior to any other MBA of any college under the University. This happens only because the Faculty Team is very good. Continuous efforts are made by the Faculty to update the syllabus. In sharp contrast, the students of the unbranded University MBA departments or such departments of affiliated colleges are left to learn a syllabus that is outdated by decades. They do not understand any modern concept and its practical application.
Unbranded colleges on the other hand have teachers who traditionally teach the courses. There is not a single case study discussed and students are left to learn everything by themselves. The result is that the students lack exposure and are forced to accept an internship that just comes their way. They do not learn anything from the internship, as they are not clear about what they need to learn and how.
Be that as it may, the students of unbranded colleges can still make efforts to get good internships. The steps involved are:- a) Gather all domain knowledge that is far beyond your syllabus b) Focus of domain knowledge of the particular internship objective c) Go all out to present your case d) Choose the appropriate organization. e) Grab the opportunity to learn as much as possible.
Gather all domain knowledge that is far beyond your syllabusYou have to become street-smart and understand the latest concepts. For example, those in HR have to learn about 360- degree appraisal, or about basics of psychometric testing or employee surveys. The only way of doing this is to go to the nearest high-quality libraries in the nearest big city and get to read all the books. A good deal of information is already available through the internet and professional websites. Those in marketing should know at least something about retail marketing, for example, where maximum internships are possible.
The focus of domain knowledge of the particular internship objectiveThis is very important. There are two types of internships. The first type is the research project that is focussed on a particular topic. The second relates to the unpaid training that is given by the organization.
As far as research projects are concerned, your research project should add value to the organization. If you want to study absenteeism in the organization, you can easily add value, if you find any new dimension that can grab the attention of the Management. For example, the temple-related activities in rural environments is a big cause of mass absenteeism. You need to visit families of workers or significant others ( for example, those living in houses near that of workmen) to understand ground realities. This is called domain knowledge.
Go all out to present your caseNothing works through cellphones or even emails. A personal discussion is a must. Go and meet the HR Managers of growing companies. For example, take the Chennai-based Aachi brand, which is now an Rs.1300 crores company. If you need to present your case, you should go with a proposal to interview at least three hundred customers in three areas and give accurate feedback on the product. There will be some good insights that will compulsorily relate to rival products. More often than not, such insights come to light through informal conversations. For instance, within the same household, there can be two different customers -- the husband and the wife who prefer to use two different brands for the same dish. Probe deeper and deeper and the identity root causes of such preferences. It is all up to you to grab the opportunity to do serious work. If you produce fake reports based on fake data, you can rest assured that the organization will easily find this out and you will not be trusted at all.
Choose the appropriate organizationThis is the pandemic time. Every organization would do every single piece of cost - cutting. Since the time of Management, representatives is so small, you must choose an existing profit- making organization. You need to be very careful. You must collect all data and make a case for the project or the internship. You need to be smart to understand the current priorities of the organization. Your project and or internship training should add value to the organization. If someone has resigned from the particular department (say Accounts and Finance) and you approach them for a project and a further internship training, they may gladly use you to do a lot of practical work. Just grab the opportunity to learn as much as possible. You should do your project work and allied data collection, only after the office hours and possibly during the lunch hours when employees will have a bit of time. You must talk to workmen only in the local language.
No organization, under the present circumstances, will offer you the project or the internship on a platter. Never try to influence anyone. That will not work. If your internship is bound to happen only in April or May 2021, you are relatively safe. This is because the COVID-19 problem will be somewhat controlled by then.
Grab the opportunity to learn as much as possibleThere is no free lunch anymore. Even if you know someone in the organization and that has helped you in getting the project or the internship, that itself is no guarantee that you may land in a good job in the same organization. Much would depend on your sincerity, honesty and depth of knowledge. Every single day is a new day and a new opportunity. If there is an SAP application running in the organization, go to the nearest private sector institute and learn the basics of SAP Marketing or HR or Finance. This will be very useful when you take up your project or internship, or both. You need to work long hours to make any difference. You will be easily noticed by the organization for your superior inputs and rewarded accordingly. Please use the opportunity to learn all about the organization, its products and its markets. Its people. Its financial position. If you find a copy of the balance sheet, take it and seriously study it. If you get to speak to the supply chain management expert, you can understand the challenges and the problems. Never confine yourself to your project domain. For example, if your project itself is on Working Capital Management, you need to understand every bit of operations and the big money guzzlers. You need to understand how the organization is managing suppliers and if there is any scope in delaying payments to suppliers. Please do note that every organization is doing this and it is also expected of you to come up with innovative solutions. Your project is not an academic one. You will be appreciated if you can come up with any new dimension to working capital management.
ConclusionThe MBAs from the unbranded University colleges can no longer confine themselves to their syllabus. Their project work or internship opportunity or both will entirely depend on their initiative and drive. The time to grab the opportunity is now. The aforesaid examples are based on personal experience of mine in guiding project work or internship in so many organizations of repute. Hopefully, the MBAs from unbranded University colleges will understand the larger issues involved and take quick action.