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Why so many IIT graduates end up doing an MBA

India-education-engineering
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Way to B-school.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This question originally appeared on Quora: Why do so many engineers in India go for an MBA? Answer by Srijan Sanket.

Prologue

No matter what people say, the truth is that most of the people joining the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have almost no idea what engineering would entail and even lesser idea as to what would be taught in their respective departments.

That said, a lot of people still manage to find the stuff that is taught to be absolutely amazing and “worth knowing.” Many others don’t…

Moreover, the reason why people want to come to IITs are varied. These reasons play a key role in determining the decision that an IIT grad takes regarding his/her future.

Then, there is the chunk of people who simply realise that they like other things more than engineering.

The answer

This brings us to various reasons why people from IITs may choose to go for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) after graduation. Note that the categories are not mutually exclusive, but it is rather the combination of:

  1. “The job wasn’t good enough” or “The job wasn’t something I wanted to do long term.“This category contains two types of people:
  2. Those who primarily wanted a good job (read a big pay package) but were unable to find it.
  3. Those who are not satisfied by the kind of work that was offered, and felt that roles offered after an MBA provide more freedom/better job satisfaction/more meaningful work.
    In effect, they want a “more managerial job” rather than a tech job.
  4. I cannot go for my dream job from IIT but I can after an MBA. Contrary to the hoopla about banks and other non-tech firms coming to IITs, the truth is that they mainly recruit for tech/quant roles. Many kinds of profiles (like investment banking, trading, sales and marketing, general management) are only offered to MBA grads. Then there are firms (for example, consultancies, top-tier FMCGs) that are easier to get into after MBA compared to without one.
  5. It will help me in future when I open my own venture. Depending on how you go about it, this may be a misguided view. An MBA will not teach you to open and manage your new company at the scale you envision. However, you will definitely learn things that will come in handy:
  6. Cases about various firms around the world. The problems they faced, and the particular circumstances and decisions that helped them succeed.
  7. B-plan and other competition that help you learn about the gap between an idea and its execution.
  8. Networking with your classmates and professionals who will teach you loads of stuff and help you in times of need.
  9. To lend credibility and a safety net (though your startup experience would help you much more than that).
  10. My parents/friends/seniors told me to. Though less frequent than in case of undergraduates, a few people end up coming simply because someone told them to…
  11. I am not ready to take a job but I don’t want to do an MS or a PhD. In this case, MBA is simply a way to delay your interaction with the real world when you don’t want to pursue higher education in technology/engineering.

Epilogue

This question is usually asked from the viewpoint that MBA is a waste of resources that the government invested in you during undergraduate studies. Indeed, a  similar question was put forward to me during my interview at the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta as well.

According to me, the resources invested in us are only wasted if we do not use the things we learn at IITs in our career after MBA. The mistake most people make is to assume that these things are limited to technical knowledge. We learn analytical skills and problem solving, social skills, workload management, teamwork and humility over and above the tech stuff.

My peers at IIT are some of the best people I have known and have played a  crucial role in shaping my ambitions and expanding the boundaries of my  thoughts.

So, would doing an MBA without going to an IIT have been the same as now? Definitely not. I cannot even imagine the scenario. However, as they say, we shall never know.

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