Saturday, June 6, 2009

M.S. or M.Tech. or MBA for a good career?

I have seen many people ask this question when they are at crossroads where they have to choose a further course of action (study) especially when they are pursuing their B.E. or B.Tech. I am giving my perspective about this conundrum based on my own personal experiences.

I know it is difficult to choose among the different options available because I was in a similar situation in that phase. So based on my personal experience, I would say, it would be good that you choose something that you want to do rather than pick something based on someone else's suggestion. I can give a few hints though.

With regard to MBA, it is always better to take up the course after obtaining some work experience (say 2-3 years). B-Schools prefer people with work experience and also work experience helps you to appreciate the coursework better. MBA for a fresher (until and unless if it is done from one of the top 10 B-Schools) might not be of much use. I am currently pursuing my MBA after working for some years and I must say that the concepts make better sense now. I am sure that I wouldn't have been able to do so if I had joined MBA immediately after my undergraduate studies. But with supply exceeding the demand these days, an MBA grad is finding it difficult to get a good break. So one has to be real careful and will have to think twice before taking up an MBA from an average ranked B-School.

An M.Tech might not affect your career in a great way but will definitely help if in case you are going for further research. Many companies in India give little or no importance to M.Tech when it comes to fixing your salary and so there will be very nominal difference between an B.Tech and an M.Tech grad's paycheck. Some people get into good Universities like IITs through GATE after passing out from a lower-ranked engineering college because IITs will present better career opportunities.

MS will help you in a different sort of way as it will expose you to a totally different study system, culture and environment. It will also open up career avenues for you in that country. But without funding from Universities, it is difficult to bear the expenses. However, student loans are easily available nowadays and this helps in reducing the pressure of investing in MS from personal funds.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Someone's listening

Found out today that IMT-CDL has cut down the number of questions for the assignments. As I had mentioned in my previous post, the assignments were really really long with 10 questions in the essay type assignments, 20 questions for the short answer type plus a case study. Thankfully, now, there are just 5 questions now per each assignment and a case study. This should definitely ease up things.

Monday, January 19, 2009

PG/MBA courses at IMT-CDL: My experience: Pros and Cons

**IMPORTANT: This post was written in 2009. Since then several people have posted their experiences and overall there has been quite an improvement in the program. Please also read the comments and feedback left by other people on this post.

I am posting this article so that it will help those who are opting for a distance learning course or any other course with IMT-CDL. When I was doing my search, I hardly found any useful website or blog or forum to help me choose a good distance learning institute. This post just expresses my opinion and has nothing to do whatsoever with IMT-CDL.

I joined the PGDFM programme of IMT-CDL (Institute of Management Technology College of Distance Learning) in July 2008. The reason for my joining the Financial Management course was to gain financial insights that would help me in my current job. Before joining, I had considered other institutes like IGNOU, IIM PGBM (1 year full-time on campus Executive PG course in Management with Hughes network), Global MBA at TAPMI and XIM (1 year executive MBA). Since my main intention was not a career or job change and was more to do with learning, I felt that IMT-CDL was a good option.

Though I got what I wanted, in hindsight, I feel the following about the course. Before I continue, let me tell you, that I have never taken a distance learning course before. So I had no idea what I was getting into. I chose IMT CDL (IMT Ghaziabad has a good reputation as being one of the good B-Schools in India) for its name. I had no idea about its distance learning college (CDL) the sister organization of IMT. Just to add, I got to know about IMT-CDL through a magazine ad.

  • Very good online library: The digital online library to which you get access is really useful. It contains a lot of books which you can refer to. However, it is a pain to search for the right book if you don't know what you are looking for. But you will hardly find time to refer to the material here.
  • Reasonable tuition fees: The course fees is not very high. I think this is the best price you can get if you take IGNOU and other government Distance Education Universities out of the equation. I went through several other institutes' distance learning programs before zeroing on this.
  • Good quality courseware: The quality of courseware is good. It is very comprehensive and thorough.
  • All material available online: All the requisite material such as assignments and previous year's question papers are available online.
  • Recognized by Distance Education Council which is the body that is equivalent to AICTE when it comes to Distance learning.
  • You are on your own: It was made clear to me early on that everything will be based on self-study. Despite this warning, I enrolled myself with the intention of learning the subject. The kind of subjects require some background in Finance and so it was an uphill struggle.
  • Note: Someone recently left a comment that the classes in IMT-CDL HQ were very good. I hope they implement the same level of quality in other study centers. But as I mentioned, I was told upfront by the study center head that depending on classes would not serve the purpose and I will be on my own.
  • Too fast too furious: Though the first semester is supposed to start in July, the classes started only in late September. But the exams were conducted on time in December. Since Finance is not my core subject, I had certain key expectations from the classes. However, the classes were of no use. I had to work on everything on my own. So, in summary, the weekend classes that are conducted are not enough or thorough. In fact, it would be unreal to expect the same kind of learning you would get from regular classes. So, one can safely assume that the weekend classes are just an eyewash. I think this is to ensure that IMT CDL has a faster turnover.
  • Courseware: The course material is very comprehensive and thorough (around 300-400 pages in small print). The exam covers all the aspects covered in the courseware. For this reason, completing the syllabus on your own is very difficult, especially in 3-4 months. So you get a stinking feeling that you are ill-prepared for the exam. I list this in cons because you don't get enough time to go through the entire contents courseware. But it can be used as a good reference material later on.
  • Assignments: There are 4 sets of assignments for each subject. The fourth assignment is usually a case study that for a guy without any Finance background would be Greek and Latin. You need to spend a lot of time to even understand what is being asked (at least this happened in my case).
  • Note: In the 2nd semester, IMT-CDL shortened its assignments from 20 objective/10 subjective to 5 questions/assignment irrespective of the type of assignment.
  • Assignments II: Questions out of the courseware: The assignments also have several questions that are not covered in the courseware. You have to refer to different standard textbooks and other reference material to complete the assignments.
  • Assignments III: Tedious: You HAVE to spend time on the assignments. Another thing about the assignments. They are loooong and take a lot of time to complete. One hint I got from the study center head was that most of the exam questions would come from the assignments. This was true to an extent.
  • No communication: Despite the email ids given in the website, you will never get a response from any of the persons listed. Your only contact will be the study center head and the coordinator.
  • Nothing to do with IMT Ghaziabad: Not meant for people who feel that this will be useful to sell themselves with IMT tag. IMT Ghaziabad is a reputed institution. IMT-CDL is a sister college which basically piggybacks on IMT's reputation. So don't expect a job with an IMT tag. The certificate or diploma you will get will be from IMT-CDL and not IMT. Distance learning is for furthering your knowledge and it doesn't help in improving your job or career prospects as an educational qualification until and unless it is tied up with a corporate body (IMT-CDL is tied up with Genpact. Genpact's employees can avail some special courses at IMT-CDL. I am not aware of the special benefits though).
  • Exams: The exam model is that of a typical university. There are two sections (one with 7 questions out of which you need to answer any 4 and the 2nd section is compulsory case study). Needless to say, you need to be thorough with the material. You will have to memorize as many concepts as possible. If you are coming back to studies after a long time (like me), I guess its going to be difficult to adapt to this pattern.
  • Job Scenario: I am not aware of the job scenario after completion because my intention to take up the course was not to switch or change careers. Many counsellors and experts point out that distance learning MBA or PG courses are not take seriously in the job market. Only a full time MBA is considered for job and career changes.
In summary, I would like to say that it was too much in too short a time. But looking back it is a good start if you just for knowledge. At the same time, I also recommend that you weigh your options and definitely look at other colleges before deciding on IMT-CDL.

Hope this helps. You are welcome to mention your experiences too.