Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Desi Alum Speaks

The placement season at North American business schools can get a bit stressful for our Indian (desi) students as there are a lot of expectations, and of course a huge amount of money invested. A few of the desi folks are expecting their “hard work” to pay off, and get that "big break". Others are expecting to “switch careers” and others are hoping to land up with a "decent work-life balance" job.

I keep getting queries from desi students if I have some tips for them. Well, based on the experiences of my batch mates, I thought I'll share some small things that helped us during our job search.

Write down your responses to "Interview Questions": The Career cell will hand you a set of likely questions that you should prepare for your interviews. Few of them would be general ones such as "Why consulting/finance, why xyz company, why Queen's, why MBA, strengths and weakness". As there are loads of questions, there is a tendency to make bulleted points answers in response to these questions. I would suggest that take some time out and type out your answers in sentences. This exercise has a few advantages - Firstly, as you write and review them you'll get a better picture of what you want to convey. Secondly, you'll get more confident the next time you face an interview - there is this mental thing that you have everything sorted out. Thirdly, you'll be able to add expressions, and do the required voice modulations as you answer these questions during the interview. Lastly, these are questions that are generally asked to every interviewee, and hence if you have really good crafted responses, you have an edge over the others. Also, over a period of time, as you read, and experience interviews, you can modify those answers, and tracks the changes. As you have saved them in a word document, you can keep a log and see how you fared in those interviews.

Set a trigger on Google Alert: Companies like it if you have researched about them, and are pretty sure that they are the ones whom you really want to work for. Most of us research sources like Vault, OneSource to get information about the companies, but if you have a Google Alert on the company (or on the interviewer) who is going to interview you, you'll have the latest news, and sometimes can impress them.

Learn to converse with senior management: Often you'll get to meet senior management during the interviews. They would ask you about your school, your experiences. If you are meeting them for dinner, you will slowly run out of topics to discuss. During such time, the senior folks usually talk about current events or books that they have read. It is a good idea to read some of the best sellers and have an opinion about them. Some books that I'd suggest are Freakonomics, Microtrends, World is Flat, Wikinomics. You should also store some of your HBR materials taught at the class room (as they come quite handy during those times.)

Be an India expert: No matter which part of the world are you in now, India has to be a part of the discussion. India as a key element of every nation’s strategy. And since you are a desi, you would often be asked your views or opinions on certain things in India. Some of the hot favorites during my time were the Tata Nano car, growing mobile coverage in India, Indian middle class consumers. You should have the key numbers (Economic growth, Mobile growth etc) at the back of your mind. I remember one of the interviewers once asking me to compare the Canadian Telecom market with the Indian Telecom market.

Connect with your desi alums: Just a year back, there were a bunch of desi folks who were going through the same situation as you are in currently. They were excited, and yet stressed, and they definitely understand what you are going through. So, make it a point to stay connected to them. Please note that with every email exchange that you have with an alumni, they will be drawing impressions about you ("Ladder of Inference"). So, watch out for what you say or do. If you have made genuine attempts to stay connected to them, as soon as they see a job posting somewhere in their company, they will get in touch with you.

Understand the basics of Hockey/Base Ball: If Cricket is a religion in India, Baseball is US, and Hockey in Canada is passion for the folks there. So, it is not a bad idea to sit for half an hour with one of your classmates and understand the basics of the sport. Follow the newspapers to see how the teams are faring. You are bound to get into a group conversation where the sport will be discussed, and instead of diverting the topic, you’ll get some brownie points if you can add a point or two. Remember, it is all about “getting native”, after all you will be working there!

With the US economy slowing down, B-School grads this year are expected to experience a tough time. Consulting and Finance jobs are likely to be hit. So, stay cool, and keep your enthusiasm up.

BTW, the world is full of advice, and you’ll get many “words of wisdom” from people all over the world. So, listen to yourself, and figure out what works best. With experience, you’ll get better!

And remember what Confucius once said that "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

Good Luck!!



At 8:48 AM, Blogger aliya seen said...

The sentence generator from words online is quite important in writing sattements and essays. We must think on it and work on it.


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