Updated: Jan 28, 2021
If you're aiming for getting into IIMs or have received the offer letter already, here are 10 skills that you can acquire before joining the PGP program. These skills have been listed on the basis of their use-cases during your stay at an IIM. Hope they help you prepare yourself in advance.
MS Excel: At IIMs, you'll be taught a course in managerial computing in the first year. It covers the basics of MS Excel to equip you for the fast approaching summer internship season. However, IIMs are known for their academic rigour, so you may not get enough time to practice the Excel formulas. Hence, I'd suggest you to go through Udemy's free section for Excel and watch the lesson videos on concepts like Goal Seek, VLOOKUP, Pivot, Data Validation, etc. that are commonly used in analytics.
PPT making: This skill can not only help you during the class presentations or in getting a PPO from your summer internship firm, but also in sailing through the case study competitions in the first year. Since most people who join an IIM are not good at this skill in the beginning, those who master this skill have a great advantage at winning case study competitions. If you're someone who has never made PPTs, I'd suggest you to do one of these 7 free PPT making courses online.
E-mail drafting: A lot of people don't learn this, even when they get summer internships - they write unprofessional e-mails full of grammatical errors. To avoid such errors, the best way is to add a Grammarly extension to your browser. We're suggested to do that at the very beginning of our session at IIMs. Along with that, you can read some professional e-mail writing tips.
LinkedIn networking: If you don't have a LinkedIn profile yet, it's high time you make one. I'd recommend you to follow these tips while you're managing your profile. It's extremely crucial to have a strong LinkedIn profile by the time you get into IIMs and even more so before the summer recruiters start shortlisting the CVs. Make your profile stand out.
Reading at a stretch: Each day at an IIM, you'll be required to read and prepare 3-4 business cases. Each case stretches up to 15-20 pages. So, slow-reading won't work anymore. You'll have to develop a habit of reading more books and editorials before your joining. This will not only ensure that you can read at a stretch, it will also increase your general awareness, which is a great possession especially when you're required to do small-talk during events.
People Management: If you think you're a people person, wait till you are asked to work in groups at IIMs. There are conflicts that need to be resolved and they often arise due to some people slacking off. However, the skill to make such groups work will take you a long way. I honestly feel that's one skill our IR-1 definitely possessed, he always outperformed no matter who was in his group. I'd strongly recommend you to read the book, The Culture Code, which mentions some practical ways to learn this skill.
Punctuality: "Deadlines are sacrosanct at IIM-A", is a statement you get to hear a lot throughout your first year. We've seen students being asked to leave the class if they're even a minute late, 8:45 means 8:45 at IIM-A. There have been cases where groups were given a sub-grade i.e. one grade lower than what they would have received if they had submitted the assignment on time. So, you must make punctuality a part of your life from now itself.
Academic Concepts: Some concepts like regression, correlation, various statistic tests, distribution and financial accounting are extremely useful both during your two years at an IIM as well as after that. So, it's a good idea to go through these terms in advance and do some courses online or refer books if you haven't heard of them before. Some websites I'd recommend include Coursera, Udemy, edX and Harvard Online Learning and CFI.
CV Making: It's time to get rid of your old CV formats and learn some professional CV making hacks. At IIM-A, we used to create a Master CV, it is a word document enlisting all your achievements (including school's). The second step was to acquire the CV proofs (you need not do that right now because the verification process is different for each IIM). However, what you must try to do is to use different points of your Master CV to create 4 different variants of your CV, depending on which field are you interested in. The CV format we use is available here.
Dressing Up: There'll be multiple occasions at IIMs for which you'll have to dress-up accordingly. If you're someone who wants to get into the consulting field, then get ready for attending multiple events. Each event has a dress code, generally called - smart casuals, business casuals and business formals. It'll be useful to know what these terms mean in advance:
Smart Casuals - Men: Collared T-shirt/Collared Shirt with Jeans/Trousers and floaters/sneakers/appropriate shoes (No shorts or slippers) Women: Collared T-shirt/Collared top with Jeans/Skirt and floaters/sneakers/appropriate shoes (No shorts or slippers)
Business Casuals - Men: Shirts and trousers (half sleeves checks shirts will do) with leather shoes Women: Trousers/formal skirt and shirt or Salwar Kameez (formal)
Business Formals - Men: Full-Shirts, dark suit, a tie and black leather shoes Women: Trousers/formal skirt, Shirt with a blazer, Formal Dress
Hope this information gives you ample material to prepare for before you join an IIM. If you have any follow-ups on these points, feel free to reach out to me by messaging on the blog.
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