Believing is Seeing : “In life there is winning and there is losing, both happen. What is never acceptable to me is quitting”. – Beulah, IIMB entrant !

In the next part of the series, ,”Believing is Seeing”, I am going to carry a few personal stories of youngsters who have realized their immediate dream, of securing their admissions in their dream institution. I asked each one of them to write a personal note on

a. What are the key factors that contributed to their success

b. In what ways has the personalized program (PDPP) benefited them

c. What would each like to share with the youngersters who aspire to get into these institutions

Beulah is heading to IIM Bangalore, with over two years of experience in the IT industry behind her.

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JOURNEY TO THE DREAM

As they say “It’s not the destination but the journey that counts”. And now as I stop to step into one of the important landing place of my life, IIM B, I sit and reminisce the journey to this place. The ride has started 6 months prior to the CAT exam. The distance was long and the terrain difficult but the focus was clear, and the destination decided. I did hit some speed breakers and reach some road blocks, but was undeterred. The first few months were stormy as I had to battle to strike the balance between work and preparation. There were sleepless nights and stressful days. There were times when I hit low trying to explore new ways, paths beyond the boundaries and was left completely astray.But I was motivated to the core to not give up. I fueled my engine with the confidence that “I Can and I will”, no matter how many times I fall.

IMG_20160316_162825992For any journey to be successful, one needs a guide leading us in the correct path, helping through the rough and rugged times. And on my journey I did find that guide at Career launcher. The mocks were the perfect trail runs before the CAT exam. I didn’t score high and roar during the mocks. I wasn’t even the topper during any mock. But what was important was the analysis of the mocks. They gave me an idea of the amount of hard work and extra effort that is needed to reach the target. They prepared me for the unpredictable storm, and the icy winds that blow across our minds during the D day. What seemed impossible was only possible because the belief I had and the sincerity in the preparation. No matter what never give up in the middle of the Journey. Powered by the knowledge and driven by confidence I acquired through mock analysis and practice I was able to steer through the CAT Results.

But before I could rejoice and end my trip, I have just realized that the” journey had just begun”. It was not the end of the expedition but the start. The most crucial phase of the endeavor, the interviews, were on the way. To drive them was no child’s play. Myriad questions await and haunt you on the way. And the most hounding was the question why MBA? Finding an answer to this question was very important, not just because I had the impending task of impressing the Panels to reach my Spot(IIM), It was important because I had to answer myself as to why I have to leave a bread-winner, my job and pursue MBA spending lakhs. I had to discover my passion and the real reason behind me embarking on this journey.  I found myself lost in the woods finding an answer, I was not able to nail it down as to why I really want to do an MBA.

Enroute to finding an explanation I met a man who was compelling, motivating and engaging. I happen to meet him through the PDP personalized program. Through his compassionate words and engaging talks he gets the passion out of you, makes you realize your dream, makes you stand out of the herd. Sreeni Sir, an affable and empathetic teacher. He never taught me how to play safe, he taught me how to be different. And this made all the difference. I Jpegwent through one of his lectures as to how to write an SOP. Every word racked my brain and motivated every nerve to think. It was because of him that I have realized my area of interest, the solution to my question. I always wanted to enter Media industry, as I always thought of it as the real business in terms of money in and money out. There is a lot of creative control involved in it. Even though many had reservations, He encouraged me to pick this interest of mine and go forward. He propelled my engines and helped me steer through the interview. He never gave me a short route to answer, but he helped to enjoy the ride by myself. He was the charioteer leading me through the battles called “Interviews”. Filled up with the much needed Confidence I was able to crack the IIM B interview and reach the Destination. All is well that ends well, and I had a happy ending with all the support form CL team. Sreeni sir, Raj Sir and Nanda sir, I can’t pay gratitude to these people enough.

Now as I set sail into another interesting journey and plunge into a sea of challenges ahead I carry with me the words that has always invigorated me.

“In life there is Winning and there is losing and in life both happen. What is never acceptable to me is quitting”.

Always believe in yourself. It Is the repetition of affirmations that’s leads to belief and it’s the belief in you that leads to SUCCESS.

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Issues of relevance for every citizen: Be abreast for your own good!

I keep abreast with the happenings around the world, through every day reading. It is a passion; you may even call it addiction. Even during my days at IIM Bangalore, when the whole class was busy with accumulating grades, I use to gorge on magazines that dished out exciting stories and happenings, including from business world.

This is the crunch time of the year for every B-School aspirant. Most of those who landed with IIM and other B-School calls, have woken up to the fact that they will be questioned are asked to write about issues that are relevant and current. To make their life a little easy, I am collating the resources of Information, Analysis and Features that I usually go through. Hope this compendium will be of value for each to prepare for Interviews, Written Ability Test, Analytical Writing, Group Discussions etc.

At the inaugural session of TYE 2013 @ IIT Delhi

Blogs and Websites of significance

a. social issues

  1. https://socialissuesindia.wordpress.com
  2. http://www.insightsonindia.com/social-issues/

b. Economic Issues

  1. https://mostlyeconomics.wordpress.com/
  2. http://www.insightsonindia.com/economy-issues/
  3. World economic issues, detailed analysis and research https://rwer.wordpress.com/
  4. World Economic Forum, reshaping the world World Economic Forum
  5. Old blog not updated since 2011. Still very good http://indianeconomy.org/

c. Environment Issues

  1. GRIST
  2. Greenpeace International
  3. National Geographic – Environment
  4. Nature Magazine
  5. Not updated since Feb 2015 http://www.globalissues.org/

Here is the list of OUSTANDING MAGAZINES and NEWSPAPERs that featured a variety of issues of relevance. You can access the archives of past fifty years and beyond in most of these cases.

A. Frontline

  1. For Current Issue : FRONTLINE
  2. For Archives with outstanding cover issues : FRONTLINE Archives

B. Business Standard’s Take-TWO : Archives TAKE-TWO

C. Caravan

  1. For the Current Issue : caravanmagazine
  2. For Archives, to go through interesting issues Caravan Archives

D. Economic and Political Weekly

  1. For the current Issue : EPW
  2. For the Archives : EPW Archives

I shall add a few more, as I keep exploring….

Albert Einstein

My Advisory to all

Kindly brows the twitter for accounts that cover your area of interest and follow. Check your twitter stream for updates, a few times every day. You will be surprised to find very interesting articles. I do it all the time.

I advise each one of you to buy a ream of A4 sheets (500 pack), file it in a box file, assign a few pages for every issue of relevance – say

a. Indian Economy,
b. World Economy
c. Indian Industry,
d. Business Houses,
e. Financial Markets
f. CEOs
g. Technology
h. NDA’s various schemes unveiled etc.
i. Indo-Pak Relationship
j. Indo-China
k. Judicial Activism – Indian Issues of significance
l. Politics
m. ….
n. ….
o. My Area of Interest

  1. Operations
  2. Finance
  3. HR
  4. Marketing
  5. Systems
  6. ….

As you read, make sure that you pick the salient points and quickly scribble in the corresponding section of this file. In a couple of weeks this will become invaluable source that you can refer to before every selection process.

If this article is of value to you, kindly share with friends who will also get benefited. Let us be good humans first.

Thanks

Why you should look at GMAT too, especially if you are a serious CAT taker (all the more if you have work-ex!)

Many a CAT-taker usually thinks that doing an MBA from overseas is prohibitively expensive. A few do think about a second MBA from an IVY League institution after a few years of experience post MBA in India. Having observed the management education space since 1991, and having mentored MBA aspirants who aimed at B-Schools in India and also those who only wanted to study abroad, I thought I should write a brief note to help every aspirant of MBA.

IWSB PG12 Convocation 2012 and farewell

In Indian context, any entrance exam is competition intensive. Of course, the one who is purposeful, determined and disciplined does manage to compel the IIMs to send across the call letter by virtue of his or her performance in CAT and Interview stage. Still there are many who are very good, but make do with an MBA from not so good an institution. From that perspective, every CAT taker should look at GMAT seriously.

Why study abroad? Does it make any sense? YES, IT DOES…

• Choice of Courses – The best of the universities abroad offer such a varied choice of flexible programmes wherein you can pick and choose courses / electives not limited to the courses that B-School offers. One can pick courses from varied departments of the university based on your interests.

• Highly ranked Universities – Most of the universities that you hear about, or will aspire to be in and where many Indian students regularly get admitted to are definitely ranked far higher than any of the Indian Institutions in the global rankings.

• Exposure to global business environment – Most of these universities are trend-setters in management education – approach and pedagogy; many faculty are bolstered by the sharp intellect that have contributed immensely to paradigm shifts in doing business. The institution-industry engagement hence is of very high standard, there by offering exposure to world class business environment.

• All round development – Most of the programmes attract students from varied countries, cultures and work experiences; the opportunity such an intense and engaging programme offers is beyond compare from the perspective of personal development.

• Home to the Best Companies – The best of the business schools are in the vicinity of largest business centres of the world that is home for the best of the Companies. Actually many of these universities have been the craddle for many of these world class companies when they were conceived and nurtured to the extent of the universities even having stakes in these companies.

• Global Citizen – Most of the graduates, if keen, are gobbled by the corporates to be posted in countries across the world. A few years in any of these corporate makes you a global citizen, looking at every challenge in so many perspectives.

• Higher Return on Investment – Though the fees that you pay for these programmes are multiple of what you invest for programmes in India, including IIMs, the kind of salaries that are offered to the graduates from these institutions are so huge that a graduate from an Indian institution will take a decade or so to match the salaries offered even at the campus placements of the overseas schools. Your returns are in the range of 3 to 4 multiples of your investment of the programme.

Here is a dekko of Global MBA, Fees Vs Avg Salary– (2014)

B.School Intake Fees Avg Salary Duration (mths)
Harvard, US Sept/Jan/April USD 53500 USD 187223 24
Stanford, US Oct/Jan/April USD 57300 USD 194645 24
LBS, UK Oct/Jan/April GBP 57500 GBP 160988 15-21
INSEAD, Fr Oct/Dec/March Euro 59500 Euro 153992 10

Kindly check the WHYGMAT.ppt on the SIS for greater details on fees at top B-schools of the world and the average salary offered at the placements of these institutions.

Why should you take GMAT anyways?

B-Schools across the globe look for GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) scores for admission for their programmes. When you are preparing for CAT, anyways you have more or less prepared for everything that GMAT tests you on. As your GMAT score is valid for 5 years (the best of the colleges prefer score within last three years) it makes sense to prepare and take GMAT as you take CAT. You may use the scores now or in 3-4 years time if you look towards global career!

Also scoring 720+ in GMAT is easier for any hardworking CAT-Taker than scoring a 95%ile in CAT. This score is good enough to open the doors of the best of the world class business schools; Of course many of the top Indian business schools also accept GMAT scores for admissions. So GMAT offers an alternate route to enter even a few of the Indian B-Schools.

Which are the Indian B-Schools that accept GMAT scores?

As per the information published on mba.com on 10th Dec, 2014, the following are a few of the top B-schools in India worth mentioning that accept GMAT scores. For more schools, visit mba.com of GMAC that is the conducting body of GMAT.
Apart from IIMs – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Ranchi, Rohtak, Shillong, Trichy, Udaipur, Raipur
• XLRI, Jamshedpur
• FMS, Delhi
• IIT-DMS, Delhi, Kanpur, Bombay, Madras, Roorkee & Kharagpur
• ISB, Hyderabad and Mohali
• IIFT, Delhi & Kolkata
• S.P Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai
• Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai
• IMT, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Dubai
• MDI, Gurgaon
• School of Management, NMIMS, Mumbai
• K.J.Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai
• TAPMI, Manipal
• XIM, Bhubaneswar
• Goa Institute of Management, Goa
• MICA, Ahmedabad
• TISS, Mumbai
• IMI, New Delhi, Bhubaneswar and Kolkata
• NIFT, Delhi
• Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Gujarat

For more details kindly visit the website of the B-school you are keen on.

What more you should know about GMAT?

– GMAT exam can be given more than once. However it is not recommended more than 2 times.
– Eligibility – Working Professionals, Graduates and undergraduates.
– The test is conducted throughout the year, except on Sundays and National Holidays.
– Passport is mandatory to take GMAT exam.
– Ideal time to take GMAT is minimum one year prior to intake dates (if you are looking at MBA overseas); If you are looking at admissions in Indian B-Schools then take it by December of the previous year (look for more details on the website of the relevant B-School)
– Score –
a) GMAT score is on 800. (Max)
b) Minimum score – 200.
– Scoring Pattern – The score happens on 10 point increment
– GMAT good scores considered to be 680 +
– Average CL student scores – 715; Many have scored 750+ too.

What are the programmes overseas that one can apply after taking GMAT?

• MIM (Masters In Management) : Work-ex 0-2 yrs – mostly in Europe, though a few B.Schools in the US also have started
• Global MBA : Work-ex 2-7 yrs
• EMBA (executive MBA) / Sloan Program : Work-ed >8 yrs
Programmes that offer Pre-final college students a guaranteed seat in a future class
• ISB – Young Leaders Program
• HBS – 2+2 program
• YALE – Silver Scholars Program
• STANFORD GSB – College Seniors program
• IESE Spain – Young Talent Program

What does a serious CAT taker need to work on to crack GMAT?

Most of the serious CAT takers will crack the GMAT quant section. The areas a serious CAT taker needs to work on are –

a. Verbal section – orientation towards GMAT slant to English – mostly the topics covered in RC, critical reasoning  and Verbal reasoning are American or international issues. Hence a little bit of practice will help you in reorienting yourself.

b. Integrated reasoning – wherein combination of 3-4 different data sets / forms become part of sets, reflecting the real business / economic situations

c. AWA – Analyzing or presenting arguments in a cogent way for a given theme, topic or argument.

Realistically speaking, a serious CAT taker would need about 3-4 weeks to be ready to take GMAT and crack it. Scoring 720+ is an easy possibility for any CAT Taker. Quite a few this year have already scored 750+. Take the leap. Do not wait.

I shall wind up this article by simply advising every CAT taker, unless you are in the 98%ile bracket in mocks, to look at GMAT also as a potential route to get into your dream B-School. Those with work-ex, you should take GMAT and even target the overseas B-schools.

Kindly check the WHYGMAT.ppt in your SIS that has greater details. Get in touch with the counselor at your Career Launcher centre to know about all details of the GMAT Bridge and GRE Bridge programmes for CL CAT Takers. Write to sreeni@careerlauncher.com for more information.

Conquer self, conquer the world.

Best Wishes,
Sreeni

Placements after MBA/Management education – Q&A addressed for a leading daily of INDIA

From Students’ Point of view:

  • How does an MBA degree/PGDM bridge the gap between where a student is and where he/she wants to be in future?

Most aspirants look at an MBA/PGDM program as another degree that has greater possibility of landing them in a lucrative job. It is far from truth.

The critical question to ask oneself is – What is going to be my arena of excellence? What is my goal in the next 3-5 years? If an individual has a great deal of clarity and specific goals in mind, then most of the job is done.

An MBA / PGDM program is only a means to achieve that goal. If you have a compelling goal in mind, then greater is the possibility of you getting into an institution of repute, as you know that such an environment can make a huge difference in realizing your potential and your goal.

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB

What does a good institution provide –

  1. An inspiring learning infrastructure and environment that is vibrant and thriving 24X7, through the year.
  2. Faculty of immense calibre and repute who are respected and connected in the industry
  3. A competitive eco-system where you come across groups of eager learners who explore immense possibilities. They are always on look out for opportunities. They keep pushing their own boundaries, while compelling fellow travelers to push theirs.
  4. There are too many instances to share wherein not only many a batch-mate but also faculty who have become co-travelers for life, starting companies and endeavours together, realizing the immense potential each one of us has within.

Look at the current entrepreneurial eco-system and the inspiringly successful stories that you read; most of them germinated in a campus, with co-learners as co-promoters.

It is not about a degree, it is about a space or a programme that initiates you into a journey of excellence, lifelong.

  • From the industry perspective, which out of these is better, a regular MBA/ PGDM, Executive MBA or Distance Learning?

The effectiveness and efficacy of a business management programme lies in its ingredients and structure – higher inter-disciplinary courses, intense interactions between the learners and a hands-on approach to business. This can happen only when the program is a regular one, where you are on a campus for an intense period of a year or two.

The choice between a regular MBA and an Executive MBA is purely based on the candidate’s present situation. A candidate with 3-4 years of work experience can go for an executive MBA and the industry is extremely welcoming to the products of both, regular and executive MBA. The B-school should be chosen wisely though.

Distance learning MBA programs / Exec MBA with a few contact-weeks could be of value if one has worked for a significant number of years. The conceptual learning added with intense contact-weeks where in you discuss and debate the possibilities, can act as a great cauldron to initiate a few ideas within the experienced, who can explore and experiment in their respective organizations. The process and outcomes can be of immense value.

Industry still seems to be skeptical about the Distance Learning MBA programs, especially if the takers are not experienced. With the advent of new e-Learning and m-Learning technologies, Distance Learning MBA programmes will gain more credibility in the future, especially in the context of experienced candidates.

  • What are the resources that students can expect from their college and faculty during the placements and their preparation for the same?

A good institution runs like a well-oiled machinery. The processes, both academic and non-academic, take care of building the vision and confidence in most candidates to chase their career and life dreams. It provides immense opportunities to explore and experience, through various live projects and internships. It also enables them to take failure in their stride; see them as a learning experience. Guidance, mentoring and support from the institution, faculty and even co-learners help them win through every challenge they face, placements are just one such. Of course a learning institution is always finding new ways to facilitate.

 

  • What are the short comings, if any, that the B-schools need to address, in terms of discrepancy in the talent pool of students & the skill-set required by the industry?

Most of the top b-schools are already aware of the skill-talent gap and are trying to match the industry requirements by way of having practical case studies, presentations into the course curriculum. Also the summer internship projects take care of the same.

Of course, every institution can create –

  1. Practices in the institution that can facilitate every student to be confident in the real world. Ability to introspect, being observant of oneself, taking initiative, eagerness to learn and ability to communicate are very significant factors for one to excel in career and life.
  2. Opportunities to dirty ones hands to explore, experience and learn the business dynamics. Entrepreneurial endeavours needs to be integral to the learning process.

 

  • What is the role of students in the placement committee? Ideally how should it be?

 

Students usually form part of the placement committee and interface with industry at the stage of inviting them to the campus and overall coordination at the placement time.

I keep wondering how many of these institutions really foster an entrepreneurial eco-system. That is the key to the future. Can we enable the students to create job opportunities than looking for an opportunity to find a job?

 

  • What are the things that the students must keep in mind during the interview process? (Pointers)
  1. Clarity of thought and goal – what do you really want to do in life? And then apply only to those companies that would take you towards realizing their goals.
  2. Enthusiasm – An extremely important factor that enlivens the interview process
  3. Honesty – At no point of time during the interview you should lie, brag or exaggerate.
  4. Presence of Mind – Mental agility is one thing that can make or break the interviews. Being able to comprehend and think quickly, certainly goes a long way. With good presence of mind, difficult situations can be turned into favorable ones.
  5. Sound concepts and logic – Especially for the technical interviews, it is extremely important to have your basic concepts in place.

 

  • Is there a way through which the candidates can make the recruiters overlook their academic records?

A bright future can light-up a dull past. Students should show exuberance and the promise of heading towards an exceptional future. This can only be done by having a solid and steady present. A student’s performance in the B-school is the only shroud that can blanket the dim academic records of the past. Clarity about your future goal, the path that you see and solid performance in the B-school can give enough indicators for the recruiters to look ahead than dig into your past.

  • Should the students consider an industry’s growth while applying or opting for a particular job profile?

This is a point of great debate whether the industry performance should be secondary to personal interests or not. Certainly, industry growth does matter. The saturation of an industry is usually a sign of less scope of innovation. But, it is also time for Industry to look for exceptional talent who can replace even multiple role-holders. When Industry is in bad shape, exceptional talents rise fast!  A student must be really good in what he does and be judicious in choosing the right job profile for him that more or less falls in line with his aspirations. If a student is from a top B-school, chances are less that he would succumb to the situation.

  • Which sector is hiring MBAs the most and what would be the future hiring trend?

One sector which has grabbed everybody’s attention is the e-commerce sector. The likes of Flipkart and Amazon have indulged in aggressive recruiting in the last one or two years. Lately, these enterprises have come across as major recruiters from the top B-schools. The colossal billion dollar valuations of these companies make them appear as an untamed animal on the prowl.

Also in demand would be the ever green profiles of – Technology and especially mobility which is playing a big role; Analytics is gaining importance.

In India, the entrepreneurial eco-system is just warming up. Instead of asking, “what is in demand, what is the salary”, one needs to ask, “Am I chasing what I really want to do?; Am I an eager learner?; Do I dirty my hands?; Do I have the same enthusiasm at the end of the day, every day?” These will be critical in entrepreneurial organizations.

  • What should the current and prospective MBA students do to increase their job prospects?

Being a keen learner in whatever space he is in, being abreast with the world, keep working on his people and leadership skills along with having courage to think out of the box in solution-centric approach..

Good soft skills are almost a must these days. Doing your work diligently needs to be complemented with effective communication of the same. That makes a complete professional who is ready to bear the responsibility of taking an organization ahead.

From Industry’s Point of view:

  • Do the recruiters have any preference in terms of a specialization?

 

Every business needs people from various backgrounds. Every specialization is in demand. It is the vision one has and the passion one demonstrates begets the positions. Have you ever heard of a Chief Belief Officer (CBO) in corporate world? This position was created for a deserving person in the FUTURE GROUP, find out!

Recruiters always specify their preferences in terms of specialization before the interview process begins. A BFSI sector company would most probably be going for Finance graduates. A consulting firm may be looking forward to take marketing or systems graduates.

Having said that, if you really want to be in a company, work on polishing the skills that is of immense value to that company and just go after the company. In today’s networked world, you will surely find an opening.

 

  • Are there any attributes which are specific to a specialization or an industry which the recruiters consider while recruiting? E.g. one must be comfortable with number crunching when it comes to Finance.

 

Certainly, the industry expects people who are good with numbers for the finance profiles and people who are more creative and crafty to look after the marketing in their organizations. However, in today’s world, an MBA of any stream should be proficient in multiple skillsets. For example, even Marketing is a game of numbers. The industry expects a Marketing manager to have a good level of comprehension of numbers and data.

 

  • How much weightage is given to the academic performance of a candidate by the companies?

 

For finance and consulting profiles, consistency in the academic performance is considered and valued. For marketing and systems profiles, this consistency may not be that important as some other attributes of the candidates may cover-up for any deficiency in the academic record.

 

  • A lot of MBA professionals are going for start-ups instead of big firms. Is it good or bad? What is the reason for this trend?

 

Young MBA professionals going for a start-up shows a great deal about their risk-taking instinct.  Not just initiating a start-up but also joining a nascent one is a sign of courage. There is no job security, a start-up may fail. It certainly is a good thing and even those who have failed ventures are regarded and appreciated by the industry.

My heuristics suggest that the reason for this trend, this exodus of students from the promising final placement sessions of their B-schools, is the hunger for innovation. This is fueled by the various possibilities, resources and the upcoming technologies.

What are the factors to be considered while choosing a B-school?

Choosing a B-school can be broadly done by judging 3-4 factors given below:

  1. Learning environment – How innovative and facilitating is the environment? What is the methodology, pedagogy of learning?. How hands-on is the program? Does it keep pace with the changing trends in the economy?
  1. Industry Reputation & Placements – understanding about how is the industry response during the summer placements and final placements. Finding what companies from which sectors are dominant in hiring from that B-school.This factor majorly determines how smooth a student’s entry into the industry would be.
  1. Courses and Specializations – finding the best courses and specializations of the B-school. Assessing whether they are in-line with the candidate’s aspirations or not.
  1. ROI – The Return on Investment evaluation should go beyond the monetary aspects. One must also see what the other are takeaways from that particular B-school.
  1. Location – This affects the kind of companies that hire and also the opportunities of summer internships.

What are the factors to be considered while choosing a specialization

If passion can become profession, nothing else is needed. The greatest challenge for every aspirant is to discover his passion and excel in that space pushing ones boundaries. You need to be special, specializations really do not matter!

Having said that, I must say that, students get a great chance of understanding what their calling is during the first year which has common subjects. For the self-driven and self-motivated this much time is enough to identify their specialization.

Apart from this, being factually aware of the type of job profiles offered to students of that specialization at that B-school is one factor that should be kept in mind. Students need to keep abreast with the current trends and the future prospects of the industry of their interest.

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