This is one of the most awaited times of the two year session at MBA colleges as most of the management graduates await for their dream companies and offers. Placement season at most of the colleges has begun or is about to begin. However this year the buzz and hype of placement season is replaced by the silence and doom of the economic scenario prevailing out in the market. Most management grads who will be passing out in the year 2009 are today asking themselves this question – What will happen to my cheese? They are asking if their cheese will be sold? Will they get a fair price for their cheese?
Forget dream offers, the current economic scenario and the pink slip season is creating tremors which can crack the walls of aspirations and high fledged corporate lives that young grads aspired to live soon after passing out from MBA colleges. While most of us are taught change management and leadership in MBA courses, times like these are like those case-studies which none of us would want to attempt – since they not only do not have immediate answers but leave us amidst uncertainty.
Uncertainty is the buzzword as ‘solid economic fundamentals’ are getting replaced by ‘crashing markets’, ‘talent as the king’ is being replaced by ‘talent is no longer relevant’ and manpower once touted as the strategic advantage in knowledge economy is shown the door, as strategic advantage is no longer strategic anymore. Read and business news papers and you will find tons of analysis and research on what is causing the global markets to crash and whether it is beginning of recession or not. Whatever be the cause and effect, be assured that uncertainty will be our companion for at least few years to come.
So what should you as a fresher management graduate do to make the most out of uncertainty? You cannot obviously change the economic scenario; you can however change your approach towards it. You cannot wait for the best offers to come your way; you can certainly work to improve your chances in getting whatever best is available out there.
Here are some ideas that might work well in a scenario like this:
Realign your expectations to market realities: you might be the top performer in your college and your college also might be amongst the top ranking colleges in some xyz surveys – unrealistic expectations are most likely to remain unfulfilled especially in such uncertain times. So the earlier you realign your expectations, the better for you since there are not going to be many choices available in any case.
Get out of silo’s immediately: Most MBA grads have tendency to classify themselves as – ‘I am MBA Fin’; ‘I am HR’ and so on. While this might look attractive or easier to attach a comfort zone to your area of specialization or expertise, this is not the best go to market strategies especially when the market is so bad. Instead try to learn on areas outside your domain and explore opportunities where you can value add in different areas. Nothing is greater from an employer perspective if they get people who can multi-task and bring diverse set of skills to the table. Don’t follow any precedents: Till this year, Investment Banking was considered a rage and many people took finance only because they wanted high paying jobs in the Investment Banking sector. This however might not hold true especially with the turmoil of financial markets globally. Do not shun opportunities just because they don’t look that glamorous on the face. Explore your strengths and see what best can get from existing opportunities. Do not follow precedents that limit the number of opportunities you have.
Think differently: Well this is not just a punch line – but an actual invitation for you to think out of the box and not just wait and watch for companies to come and hire you. What are you doing to get yourself a suitable job over and above what your college placement cell is doing? Are you approaching the employer’s independently? Are you taking to your contacts that are already in the industry? Are you approaching your alumni members? What different approach are you taking to get the job you want? MBA is not just about completing a degree from Xyz College and then sail on cruise. In tough times like these it is the initiative and leadership you take which might make a difference.
Have the courage and gumption to start out something on your own: Placement cells will only land you in a job, entrepreneurship will take you much far in life. Will it not be a good idea if you can really go around implementing a good business idea? Funding might not come in easy, but then where is the need to start big. Start small (as most entrepreneurs do) and navigate your way to bigger achievements in life. And if you don’t have a business idea – start thinking and exploring the real gaps that exist in the market. You will find too many opportunities that are waiting to be tapped.
And finally – think and ponder about these points and see if they make any difference to your career. It’s always easier said then done – but then who will do it for you if not you yourself! Do post your comments!