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IIMs are among the oldest B-schools in the country and have put India on the map for producing the best and brightest management professionals. Did you know? The first IIM is one of the oldest B-schools in India, it was established almost 60 years ago. Since then, many IIM’s have popped up in the country, with IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore even beating IIM-C in the national rankings. It’s a dream come true for every Indian MBA aspirant to be associated with one of these age-old brands. The traditional way in is through CAT where the competition is fierce, but the good news is that almost all top IIMs accept GMAT scores too.

So, while your academics and work experience might help you get on the shortlist, the interview is what seals your admission. And how do you ace the interview? One word- extracurriculars!

Everybody on the list already has great academics, so the question is, “what else do you bring to the table?” IIMs look for capable students who can add to their long-standing legacy, and just having top scores doesn’t really convince the panel that you are worthy. The interview is a chance to prove to them that you care about more than just textbooks. Here are three reasons why extracurriculars are the key.

  1. Enhances your application: If your academics are a cake, notable extracurricular activities are the cherry on top. It puts you ahead of the competition, even if only by a slight factor. Remember, everyone else has academics, and some have even more. So, how are you going to be better than those applicants?
  2. Jack of many trades: Good extracurricular activities portray you as a person beyond books. The idea of an interview is to find out the kind of person you are and your underlying soft skills. Having other interests can make you seem all-rounded and more interesting to the panel.
  3. Shows persistence: The fact that you could do justice to your interests and be among the top scorers of over 200,000 applicants demonstrates your determination and persistency. Business schools and businesses in general, want individuals who are proactive and dedicated.

The IIMs are looking for depth rather than breadth. What this means is that even if you have a ton of extracurriculars, they are really of no value unless you’ve spent enough time on them and achieved something. So, saying that you sing, dance, paint and take photos isn’t as good as saying that you have multiple certifications in Hindustani music and have performed on stage at important events, or saying that you’ve pursued photography for 5 years and a notable magazine published your pictures. So, make sure you have a depth to your passions and are able to justify them. Here are some other extracurricular activities that can get you brownie points in an IIM interview. And if you feel like you haven’t done anything noteworthy, it’s never too late to start.

  1. Student council – This is a way to develop your leadership skills. It shows the IIM panel that you are responsible, motivated and a person who can influence others positively.
  2. NGOs – Quite a few students who apply to IIMs have some sort of voluntary work on their resumes. Choose a field that you are interested in and consider volunteering, as it will give depth to your profile and experience too. Say you are passionate about animal rights, join an NGO that provides shelter and food to stray animals.
  3. Work experience – Experience is a great profile booster in any form. You could work on individual projects, work part-time, do an internship or even have years of full-time work experience. It shows the panel that you are capable and that you have industry knowledge.
  4. Sports – Sports teach you a lot of things like teamwork, strategy and competition, moreover, they help in physical fitness. If you’ve led or captained a team before, even better. It helps to demonstrate your leadership abilities and can-do attitude.
  5. Academic clubs – These could be in the form of debate clubs, writing clubs, case solving groups or anything else that gives you an edge over just academics. Debating teaches you negotiation, writing teaches you persuasion, and case-solving teaches you structured thinking. IIMs are B-schools foremost, and having any business skills gives you bonus points.
  6. Culture clubs – Whether you are into event management, creating awareness for social issues or promoting culture and diversity. Being part of cultural clubs develops your personality in numerous ways. And business schools are greatly appreciative of such passions.

Your interests define you, so choose what makes you happy. And if you need a hand in figuring out how to build your profile to be more than about academics, talk to our counsellors. They have helped thousands of students actualize their careers, and you could very well be next!

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