Spoilt for choice when it comes to management exams? Here’s how you can narrow it down-

Abundance of choice. Uncountable colleges. Career growth. Professional life. Personal life, and the list goes on. These are a few factors that can easily overwhelm an MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) aspirant who is about to embark on a journey that will allow them to hone their skills further, and make a leap in their professional life.

But there are a multitude of options available at every step, which begins with choosing the right course, the correct exam and the colleges that they can seek admission into. How should students steer clear from any confusion that may become a reason for dissuasion, holding them back from stepping into a lucrative career of manifold returns and how should a student manoeuvre through the choices that are available to them, and not get overwhelmed by it. Here is what experts opine.

“Students should always take a disciplined approach so that they will not be overwhelmed by the abundance of options,” says Dr MH Sharieff, Professor of Practice, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University), CMS Business School. To have a disciplined approach regarding what would suit best requires meticulous planning. Not only that, students must also set their priorities straight and not budge from them. Setting academic and professional goals upfront will further help the students to focus on selected alternatives and save themselves from an excess of information that might harm them rather than help them.

Also, students must be able to identify their skills, strengths and other areas of interest, and also not forget to reflect internally on what they would enjoy doing and what they are especially good at. Nirvan Gandhi, Founder of Applicant X, an MBA consulting firm, adds that this can help one choose a specialisation that aligns with their passion and talents.

When it comes to making choices in one’s career, an uninformed decision can cost students time and money as well, and it is always advised to be well-researched. “Research and look for different MBA programmes and their specialisations, also understand the curriculum, the faculty and the opportunities they offer,” said Gandhi, an ISB (Indian School of Business) graduate. He further advises students to look for programme rankings and read student reviews and testimonials to draw some insights from real-life experiences.

When it comes to awareness of different MBA specialisation programs, the CMS Business School professor says that specialised MBA degrees provide a specific set of skills that can lead to better career growth and enhanced earnings in a particular industry vertical. “Students can consider a specialised MBA in petroleum, energy, construction, innovation, aviation, fashion design, sports, luxury, and the like, both in India and abroad. These institutes have separate entrance exams that aspiring students sometimes miss due to lack of awareness.” Hence, he warns aspirants to be wary of the course they choose.

Start networking
Ignorance is not considered to be bliss when it comes to applying for MBA colleges. Sometimes it leads to students not having a clear objective and putting their efforts in the right direction, says Dr Sharieff. In addition to this, he says that students must attend orientation talks by experts and talk to current students.

Nirvan Gandhi, too, encourages students to reach out to the alumni of the institution who can provide the students with a practical understanding of what to expect. In addition to this, he also advises students to inquire about the career services provided by different programmes, which can have a significant impact on one’s post-MBA opportunities and attend MBA programme open houses, workshops, and webinars.

Organise information well
One of the most pertinent and ignored aspects of planning for a career is organisation after planning. Not only accruing information should be paid attention to, but keeping it well organised is simultaneously important. An advice that Gandhi disseminates to students is maintaining a spreadsheet with details of each programme where the application deadlines, requirements, preparation strategy and other pros and cons should be noted that later on, lets a student make a comparison of them in an objective manner.

Consider geographical location
When it comes to applying for a college, experts opine that it is always beneficial to bring into consideration the factor of geographical location and more importantly, the kind of recruiters who prefer graduates from a particular institute. One should be decisive whether they want to pursue their programme in India or abroad.

“If one is aiming to work for a major bank (investment banking/bulge bracket or boutique) post-MBA, they must not discount Chicago Booth or institutes in New York City. Similarly, major Indian and foreign banks prefer graduates from select Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and many corporates select students from Tier-II institutes.

Check your wallet
Students should consider the cost of the tuition and scholarships before applying for the programme. To have a seamless and hassle-free time while pursuing the degree, students must evaluate the cost of the programme and the availability of grants or assistantships, says the Applicant X founder. “Determine what you can afford and what will be the potential return on the monetary investment,” he emphasises.

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