Question the Why ?

In this materialistic world where teens are using iPads, school kids are talking all night on their  mobile phones and where college students are the only ones playing Counter Strike and FIFA; the questions How ? Where? What? ; are all being answered with success. But the fundamental question which every Engineer should ask at every point in his life is not being asked by many or rather any. The question is Why? Why do things work as they do? Why does the teacher not explain everything? Why do we not have enough facilities? Why should we pursue higher studies? 

These questions and more like them are asked by few and those few are the ones who know How to answer the Why using What and Where

During my last semester, while I was taking mock interviews of a few of my juniors, I used to ask one question always and 80% of the time that I asked it the conversation went as follows:

Me: Are you planning for higher studies?
He/She: Yes Sir.
Me: What do you want to pursue?
He/She : I want to do MBA.
Me: Great (Although no HR from any consulting company will say this!). WHY?
He/She : I want to become rich and doing an MBA would get me a job with a much higher salary. 

Believe me when I say this, 80% said this answer. Some even said “I don’t know, but since everyone is doing it I will too“. And there’s always the cliched, “My parents want me to do an MBA.

The fact that so many want to pursue an MBA after engineering and not a M. Tech/MS is another issue for another day. But even if you want to do an MBA, you must first ask yourself Why MBA? And if you don’t believe me that’s the question which your interview panel will ask, no matter wherever you go for an interview. And there in front of an esteemed panel, if you are not convinced yourself why you want to do an MBA, you will have a hard time convincing them to award you with a seat at their prestigious college.

Always, always, always question the why. Everyone knows MBAs get paid well, they get awesome jobs right out of college, but that should not be the only reason why you should do something. Also just because you are good in Quants (which most engineers are anyway), you shouldn’t go only for MBA. Cracking CAT/XAT/GMAT is only half the battle. Even if you get an admit, that’s only the beginning. If you do not have a reason, if you do not have a goal, if you do not have any motivation, you will become just an average MBA. Dig deep into yourself before choosing your career path. Play to your strengths, assess your weaknesses and then practice hard in the right path. Check how you intuitively react to various circumstances. See how well you lead a group. See if you have any inclination towards marketing/HR/Finance. Just don’t get into any field because everyone is in it. That’s only because we have been genetically programmed to follow the herd. That would have been a good advice in the Ice Age, but not now. Not in the 21st Century. 

MBA is slowly becoming what engineering was a couple decades back. The lure of a good job, settled life and lifelong happiness is what everyone sees before entering engineering. But most colleges churn out mediocre engineers with very little practical skills. This has led to degradation in overall quality and brand image of engineers. What was once a prestigious profession has become a job title found in every household in India. Earlier, people used to proudly write Er. in front of their names, but  no one does so now. MBA is slowly going through that path. Everyone wants it and colleges are plenty who give degrees. But these degrees are not worth the paper they are printed on. 

I would also like to add that some people want to do their MS just for the sake of going to a foreign country to study so that they have something to show off on their Facebook accounts and Instagram handles. But the grill of an MS student typically leaves no time for WhatsApp let alone FB. The standard of graduate education is very high in foreign countries and the amount of hard work required to successfully navigate through the curriculum and get a job or PhD admit in the end is something which our generation of last-night-study people can’t even fathom. Please go for the knowledge, go for the opportunities or go for the quality jobs and research. Do not think it’s going to be a vacation there.

I am someone with absolutely no experience regarding MBA/MS as I haven’t done anything yet. I am just recent alum. I have interviewed many alumni who have done their higher education from top universities. And the thing which was common in all of them was they were always sure why they were pursuing it and it was never just money. But I have always tried to question the Why, regarding my career which has left me confused , depressed and aimless at times, But I feel that someday I will get the answer to anyone of the Why’s and that day I will look back at this time and say, “That was time, well spent”

PS: I have no hard feelings for those aspiring to do MBA/MS. I am an aspirant myself. This is just a piece of advice which you may choose to follow or ignore. As young alum it’s my privilege to advise you and that’s all I am doing.

4 thoughts on “Question the Why ?

  1. Dear Abhijit, congrats for the nice write-up. It is indeed interesting that a meticulous, exam-ridden, pedagogically heavy course like the MBA today lures the young and intelligent. It is to my mind no more than a training in mindset to be chained to a ‘boring’ and ‘borrowed’ lifestyle. All intelligent students should be ready to take on life with a ‘purpose’ which drives them. The profession they chose can be just a vehicle. Deep within, it is never the MBA which does this, it is the purposeful individual who dies it. So seek your purpose!

    1. Money should not be the only motivation to study. Because with more money comes more responsibilities. Unless you are internally motivated with a purpose you will do everything for money. Doing everything with only money in mind might lead you to compromise on your ethics or beliefs. Also you should be in charge of the money you earn not the other way around. MBA is not the only way to earn more money.

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