Transitioning From College to the Corporate World: Challenges and Approaches

The Real Learning Is Outside the Classroom

Management professionals usually attend engineering and business schools as part of their education and progression into the corporate world. while engineering and business schools prepare them for the real world where challenges abound and where the day to day working life is very different from what they have learned, there are some obvious gaps that such professionals must overcome if they are to succeed in the corporate world.

Indeed, as the saying goes, Real Education is Outside of the Classroom, and hence, any aspiring professional could do with some approaches that would stand them in good stead, given the challenges.

To start with, management professionals must understand that textbook knowledge is fine to an extent only and hence, they must be prepared to face the world head on when they start their careers.

Textbook Knowledge, Practical Learning, and Bridging the Gap

Of course, this is not to say that theoretical knowledge is useless. Just that they must learn to supplement and complement their didactic learning with the lived experience.

For instance, in our experience, we found that there is much to be gained from classic standard management books by authors such as Philip Kotler on Marketing since many FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) firms often use many of the strategies as described in Kotler’s book on marketing.

What more, one can also find many similarities between the case studies in the books and the real world challenges and hence, management students should well do by paying close attention to such challenges during their education.

Becoming a Generalist - Specialist or Specialist - Generalist

Having said that, it is also the case that not all bookish knowledge is useful. Moreover, business schools usually start offering specialized courses on niches areas well into the Second Year and hence, aspiring management professionals should be cognizant of the need to specialize as early as possible.

The point here is that in times when specialists are more in demand than generalists since the industry is becoming highly niche focused, it is important to delve into the nuts and bolts of the specialization as soon as possible.

For instance, many business schools offer dedicated courses on IT (Information Technology), Finance, and Marketing and hence, if you are planning to be a specialist, then it makes sense to opt for such specialized courses.

On the other hand, management consultancies often recruit generalists who have the knack and the insight to tackle complex management problems in a holistic manner and this is where management students should decide whether they would like to be Generalist-Specialist or Specialist- Generalist.

In other words, the decision as to whether one must focus on comprehensive skills along with specialization in a particular niche or whether one must focus completely on a specific niche with generalized skills thrown in for good measure.

Jargon, Case Studies, and Simulations: The True Value of a Business School Education

Apart from this, the real value of a business school education lies in acclimatizing students to simulations of how the real world works.

Indeed, world over, business schools are increasingly moving towards a Case Study Approach as well as Simulated Exercises which mimic real world situations and encourage the students to think of problem solving approaches.

Further, it would help the students if they pick up the Management Jargon early on since most corporates and consultancies are often Jargon Heavy in their daily communications.

On the other hand, there is no use of simply reeling out concepts and terms if they are not backed up with a real understanding of how the real world works.

This is the reason why many management students often take up additional internships apart from their regular summer internships. Indeed, even in India, many business schools are moving towards a Pedagogic Model where case studies, simulations, role plays, and presentations are replacing the Textbook Didactic Approach as well as testing the Students on Theory alone.

Transitioning From Education to Career

Making the transition from a business school to the corporate world might be tough initially, but if the management students focus on Getting Their Hands Dirty by delving and diving deep into the real world approaches, they can easily adjust to the new circumstances.

Further, a Hand on Approach is something that many leading corporates do when they push them into the field and make them come face to face with real world situations.

One of the most important points for management students to know and realize is that the real world is unlike what has been taught in their business schools despite the best attempts and the most well designed courses.

This is because most real world management problems are usually those which arise from the human to human interactions and hence, people skills are a must for any management professional.

In our experience, we have known peers who were the toppers and yet, could not make it big due to the lack of soft skills such as Language Proficiency, Communication Skills, and not being Presentable enough.


Lastly, business schools are like the rivers that merge with oceans and seas which are the real world and hence, to navigate the tricky waters of the latter, it is important to first know how to sail down the former.

In other words, we are not discounting the importance of a business school education. On the other hand, we are also not downplaying the need for real world skills which are absolutely necessary for success as a management professional.

To conclude, it is better to be an expert swimmer before launching into the sea than being thrown into the ocean and flail around.

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