As I have been extensively helping first-year MBA students with mock interviews, there are several common (
issues) themes of where they could improve. Initially, my hypothesis was that these themes were more common with international students – I am one of them and can totally empathize. Yet, as I have increasingly spoken to many domestic students, in addition to internationals, I see how each one of them demonstrates essentially the same set of themes! Poor students, I don’t hold them accountable for it. It is the system that drives them to this point and that is my biggest pet peeve in an MBA school! Over the last few months of constant observation and reflection, I have built out a model called CASE to coach students on the themes I referred to earlier. Let me walk you through it.
CASE Stands for:
We will talk about Confidence in this article:
Before they step into the program, they are the awesome, confident and ready-to-conquer-the-world kind of people. They have immense faith in themselves. They come to an MBA school, and they are soon crushed under the belief that they are a nobody! They are constantly bombarded with paradoxical statements such as:
Not only that, students are blatantly shown statistics of how many of them have not yet been placed, often with names on the presentations. What a humiliation! If Career Services thinks this can lead to motivation, I really want to question the science behind it! I remember how in one of these career sessions, I had seen my name put up on the presentation. In front of scores of my classmates, some with offers, my name was bolded out under a list of people who didn’t have a job! And can you guess how much time had elapsed before this (un)eventful day arrived? Barely two months! Yes, it was barely two months into the program when I was still figuring out time and complexity management in an entirely new education system and filtering through the very few on-campus company visits that actually interested me.
Now this is another interesting discussion because for Career Services “interest” is not even a word – “You don’t have a job yet and you want to choose which company you want to work for?” Yes, I do want to dictate my future and find where my interests and skills meet market opportunities. And YES, I don’t want to merely be a statistic in an annual placement report! AND YES, I don’t want to be a victim of depression either. The possibility of earning a six-figure salary but feeling miserable at heart is not my cup of tea and shouldn’t be for anyone on earth!
Anyway, going back to the beginning… if you are a student reading this, how can you possibly keep up your confidence in such a hostile environment?
The answer is simple:
You MUST train your mind to filter out what it tells you and feed in ONLY what your gut (aka true beliefs) tells you!
How can you do it?
It is easier said than done. It requires constant practice – similar to your practices with interview prep. If we want a job, we are willing to quit everything else and just go right after it, right? Why? Because what if we are left behind in the race? What if our families begin to feel the pressure of joblessness? What if our distant relatives ridicule us? In the end, we think: “Oh, I just might not be worth this. I am so average. I shouldn’t have quit my last job to pursue an MBA. I was much better there.” But were you really better off in your last circumstance? If you were, why did you choose to pursue an MBA in the first place? And yes, if felt comfortable, then it was time for you to get out of there anyways. Remember…
So, whenever you are in an uneasy situation, catch yourself and ask, “is this my mind telling me or my gut?” It will ALWAYS be the mind and will immediately bring you back to reality and actually make you feel good that it wasn’t real! Believe me – give it a shot! When you do that repeatedly, you are leaving impressions on your mind that it will remember. Consequentially, in any uneasy situation, you will be able to train your mind to see the opportunity in every challenge! Next time, instead of asking, “why did this happen to me?”, ask, “what is this trying to teach me?” You will see how your mindset immediately shifts from problems to solutions, grief to hope, and eventually gives you an innate confidence to go conquer the world!
Through my blogs, I will share a lot more about why your mind is absolutely everything! If you can’t be the boss of your mind, that mind of yours WILL boss you around. Take it from me.
In the next post, we will move to the A of CASE. Please stay tuned and leave your comments and questions below.