Say you always approached cooking with awe and trepidation, and never bothered risking a stint in the kitchen and have since hired a cook. Yet you are invited by the chef of a popularrestaurant and asked to give your inputs on a new continental cuisine he’s alchemizing. Fancy that!
The author had a humbling experience this past weekend, akin to the incredible supposition of the invite you would receive. For someone whose MBA hasn’t come to mean a lot more than its respectable initials, a call from his alma mater to help out in recruiting for the class of 2013-15 was more-than-adequately mystifying. Ordinary academic credentials, a two-year stay in the middling realm of anonymity, consistently safely maintained distance with the faculty — these traits were how you could best describe the author with. That he was as popular with the ladies as Kumar Sanu would be with Carnatic aficionados didn’t help matters either. When he received the call from the incumbent administrative officer, the author couldn’t simply make sense of the apparent insanity. To be sure, he caught the admin officer on the phone again in ten minutes hence, and asked extremely articulately if his name was picked at random, or had the latter conducted some sort of research on the author’s current occupation. He even tried gleaning some vague idea from their conversation, but it seemed like the gentleman from the college had deliberately become guarded. All that the author could download was that he wasn’t the first one to be called, and that the other alumni were mostly unavailable on phone. Now, if this wouldn’t exemplify destiny, what else would?
So, it was real that he was going to be part of a panel of interviewers in whose hands lay the future of several young ‘uns. What was real and hard was that the ‘event’ was scheduled for the very next morning. With little to show as prior experience in any meaningful recruitment, and being unbelieving in the Internet as a perennial refuge for any sort of preparation, the author decided that he would simply let things take their course and ‘live’ the experience-to-come. And some experience it was!
The specifics of how the day went by would well entertain all the author’s faithful on a different day, different place. But rest assured that it was a most amusing outing, right from teething logistical snags to generously idiosyncratic co-panelists to transmission delays news channel style to the abounding eagerness of the hopefuls, in all their intensity and excitement. Ah yes, their eagerness! It is the very eagerness that told the author of several vistas. Of the candidates, of the co-panelists, of the world outside, and of himself.
The kids came from across the sub-continent. Some of them just out of college, some of them still finishing, and a few of them with some work experience. Be it the extempore they delivered, the questions they attempted answering or the ones they threw at the panel, eagerness was writ large on their faces. Picture this. A girl who appears timid, who brings her eyebrows on closed eyes together when asked a question from one of her study topics in undergrad college, borders on desperation in convincing the panel that she can deliver the goods if given a chance. Her objective in pursuing an MBA is something she parrots, from what one of the coaching institutes (like the one the author occasionally visits) has likely made her memorize. She is duly reminded to present her original thoughts, which she readily agrees to and bares her heart. A few candidates later, appears a young man looking extremely confident and sports a genial smile all through. He knows his stuff and can tackle any question thrown at him. But he has an air of jubilation for every correct reply he gives. And he follows it up with smart one-liners, which after a couple of instances start wearing themselves out. He is probably thinking that adding effects is a cool way of getting himself heard above the noise. He’s equally but eager to book a seat in the college for the coming term.
It will ultimately be a select bunch of enthusiastic and dreamy eyed boys and girls making it to the batch starting June. All their eagerness is just waiting to be channelized from the blatant aspirations of an assured campus placement their faces betray. If they believe they can make great management graduates, they can very well be made to believe that they make great entrepreneurs, or educationists. It is the vistas that they need to be shown. All the competition is such a raw energy bank, after all.
The author’s co-panelists were respected names in their areas of interest. It was a weekend and yet they had arrived at the venue in time. If their job is to teach and do research, it will be a safe guess that they would feel absolutely at home doing just that. What egged them on to take up this activity which is naturally preliminary to the whole institution of academia? Many of us would say it is the obvious eagerness to interact with young minds and identify the future spark. Absolutely, but is that it? It certainly wasn’t all energizing as the day wore on. The professor to the author’s left was a woman from a neighboring institute, and was decidedly impatient two hours into the interviews. The first time she gave clear indications about her gradual disorientation was when she asked the same question twice to a candidate, and got busy with text messages the moment her turn to ask was up. Well, let’s not discount the fact that her family needed her home early that day. Despite this, would the author agree to counter-suggestions that she had just come down to honor a commitment, or simply to make some extra money while she could? Nope. The faculties were in attendance probably to see what perspective they could derive from these kids. For their academic pursuits. In the ecosystem of education and academia, the different roles certainly are not sandboxed, and there is a collaborative spirit waiting to be ignited. Lofty as the words may seem, it is indeed a synchronous world out there we are seeing.
As for the author, like he mentioned earlier on, it was all experiential. He arrived at the venue with the wonder of an eight year old. He discovered that his world is not very different from the one he entered then. And, one is as far from academics as he wants to be. It’s his eagerness that got the author empanelled and talking academics. Probably something that got him writing!