Switching From non-management to management

“You should learn to be a voracious reader”, he said so perfectly; our teacher of Business Environment in Nepal.  And it touched me deeply!

Pursuing an MBA had always been my dream. Right after my bachelor’s in Engineering, I ran searching for MBA colleges in Nepal, luckily I got an admission to one of the top Universities, Kathmandu University School of Management after going through the rigorous entrance, interview, and selection procedures.

Before I joined MBA, it was a subject that would keep me awake the whole night in my fantasy. I couldn’t stop thinking about myself walking out of a chartered jet in my black miniskirt, holding a small briefcase, PAs by my side, and people waiting for me to chair their conferences and meetings. The seer idea of standing tall in my heels in front of a big elite group, presenting my views, and convincing parties always excited me. I couldn’t stop fantasizing about myself walking as a great businesswoman of the century and my family being so proud of me. I wanted to study MBA with all my love, all my heart. 

With the same dream, I joined MBA. Although I came from a non-management background, I had this strong belief in myself that I will easily breeze through it. I had thought an MBA would be a little of reading and more of fun. We will be doing presentations, a lot of talking and goofing like in tea shops. Studying MBA in my imagination was all about me going to a wonderland, exploring many new things, and getting things easily without much effort. I hadn’t even left my full-time job when I joined MBA. I was a super confident girl who thought I would rock the University when I get in. 

So, why am I writing this piece of the blog now? Well, let me tell you. Life is not what we imagine, but how much effort we put into it to create exactly like the one we have imagined. I learned this in these few months of my MBA journey.  

The very first mistake I had made was underestimating my MBA. I know many of my friends of the non-management background still do it.  I had this same view which got turned upside down after I joined KUSOM. A super confident girl, on her very first day of orientation, lost a big share of her confidence after the college directly started distributing case studies and told us to analyze them. I never remembered doing any case analysis stuff back in my entire bachelor’s journey. I was overwhelmed. I looked into the case…..like it was around 10 pages printed on both sides and the vocab, don’t ask, everything was so scary. I didn’t even know what was expected from us. We were then and there divided into groups and told to participate. We were handed around a 5-page long instruction sheet printed on both sides regarding case analysis. My brain was all stressed out. I couldn’t process it nicely. I started getting a big headache and it triggered a migraine. 

After going back home, we had a group meeting from 9 PM until late at night. I was studying the whole night. I can’t explain, my imagination of MBA had seen a trailer of upcoming days and I was totally overwhelmed. 

The next day was the same. Not just the case study discussion, but we even had impromptu presentations and stuff. Please don’t forget that I am talking about Orientation Day, the classes were yet to start. 

So, after the small trailer in orientation, the first day of my college was not filled with enthusiasm, it was filled with terror of being interrogated in class ….” What if some teacher asks me a question and I can’t speak?” ……“What if people judge me?”…..” What if they considered me as a no-nothing?”….” What if teachers wonder about my selection in college?”. I was all filled with insecurities and vulnerabilities. I went to college on my first day with a very very heavy heart. 

I sat somewhere in a corner, where no one could notice. Most of my classmates seemed to have made friends and I was the only one so occupied with insecurities that I didn’t make efforts to make one. Before joining MBA I had promised myself that I would push myself no matter what! Even if people laugh at me. I had this thing in my mind all the time. But I hadn’t been able to figure out HOW!

I had read somewhere, opportunity knocks the prepared mind. I don’t what kind of “preparation” that prepared stands for in that line but I was mentally prepared to not let go of any opportunities that would be very scary but at the same time push be against my boundaries. That opportunity entered the door of our classroom as “Sunanda” mam, our MBA coordinator at KUSOM. It was a time for CR selection. After all the scary orientation we had been through, I know most of us had already estimated the hassles a class CR would have to go through. So, our MBA coordinator called for participation, and guess what, none of us raised hands. That was expected. I don’t know, an inner voice started shouting at me, “raise your hand girl, raise it”. And I did. 

So, with no other competitors, I got elected as the CR. New to college, new to management, new to friends, and new to faculties, I was so overwhelmed at the situation but I was determined to do my part as honestly as possible. Being CR to date has taught me two things, one about how to adapt yourself in non-comfort zones and another is you can’t please everyone. The latter one is very important in my life because I think all my life I have been a people pleaser. It was definitely one of the most challenging parts but I had to learn it the harder way and I am learning it.

Now let’s go to the normal classes. We have 6 courses in the first semester and all of them were new to me. Now imagine, you are a  toddler, you don’t know what A, B, C, D….is and you are suddenly thrown in grade 1. I would love to mention this analogy to compare my present situation. I am a strong person and wouldn’t break down so easily. But as the day passed, I started losing all my self-confidence. I couldn’t participate in class discussions since I had almost no knowledge of anything. The courses were like some running vehicles and I was trying to catch up running on foot. One day I make a routine to start and it doesn’t fit my time. I allocate 2 hours to complete a chapter and it takes me a whole day to learn the basics. I would at times give up and just sleep but of course, it only aided to create more and more gaps. Exams started, I had prepared for them, assignments started, I had no clue how to do them. I was rushing and running without thinking about what I actually was doing. At times I started getting ambitious and used to read the whole day and at times I used to totally give up on myself. There was always this disbalance. 

But at times like this, I prefer to put myself together. I have at least realized, being a master’s in Business Administration is not a joke. It’s not the degree or the grades, it’s what to become after 2 years, it’s how much you gain, it’s about how you shape your mentality. If we give a closer look, the subjects aren’t just subjects. They are something that provokes us to think, that triggers our mind to give attention to the facts we have been ignoring for ages. Even the pressure is worth bearing. The courses could have been stretched up to 4 years very easily, teachers could be less merciless regarding evaluation criteria but there’s the other side we have not been able to see and that is, all these are teaching to handle a situation when we will actually be thrown in the market! The situation will be real, more critical, and impact real lives! What if we aren’t well prepared by then? 

Another thing for my non-management friends and myself, there’s another side of a coin we have forgotten to toss. I know we haven’t been able to catch up as well as management students, but wait! Why are you comparing yourself to them? They did not even exist a few months ago in your life and they never impacted you, why should they now? Don’t we all have our own race? The real competition is with yourself. Look back and see how many new words you have learned after joining MBA, how has the level of thinking changed? How has the analytical perspective grown? How well a researcher has you become and above all how have you been fighting to date and trying to prove yourself? Haven’t you learned all these in just a few months? Imagine how much you are going to learn in these 2 years! 

Don’t just give up! Keep thriving and never doubt yourself. If you have dared to master in something you never had a clue about, it’s definitely necessary that you start with a positive mindset and a learning attitude. Stop running after grades and competitions, share knowledge, share your perspective, learn from others, be an observer, present your arguments with strong bases, and focus on growing yourself. And yes, don’t forget to consume knowledge voraciously, because without really putting in the effort, you are not reaching anywhere! Just don’t forget to repeat this to yourself…..You can do it!

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