Does the YCCE have an NCC unit

S.P Jain (SPJIMR in full or SP as it is usually referred to) is one of the most underrated business schools in the country. One of the highlights of the S.P.Jain admissions process is that applicants have to choose their specialization at the time of application. While this might be tough for freshers who do not have enough information and self-awareness to choose a specialization, it is a boon for applicants with work experience.

Specialization Matters
The biggest advantage of such a process is during placements. The placement team will ensure that for each specialization there are enough recruiters coming on board during the placements. For example, for a person with 3-4 years of work experience in the operations sector, S.P.Jain will be a much better option than maybe even the IIMs since there will be recruiters coming down specifically to hire people with such a profile. At an IIM the placements committee does not have the responsibility to specifically find 60 niche operations jobs.

The college also enjoys having a huge locational-advantage with Mumbai being the financial capital of the country as a well as the city where the most sought after Marketing recruiters such as HUL are headquartered.

Profile-based Calls & Score-Based Calls
S.P.Jain also has two different routes through which it gives out calls after you fill in the application form, the deadline for the same is 23-November.

Profile-based Call: The first is an interview call based purely on your profile — your profile should be in line with the specialization you apply for and what recruiters hiring for that specialization look for. This shortlist is out even without a test score. Once the CAT/XAT/GMAT results are out you need to meet the criteria given in the table below.

Qualifying CriteriaCAT 2018XAT 2019GMAT 01 Jan 2017 – 31 Dec 2019
Overall Qualifying Criteria85 percentile85 percentile85 percentile
Sectional Qualifying Criteria75 percentile75 percentile75 percentile

Score-based Call: This shortlist is released after the CAT scores are out and based purely on your CAT scores.

This goes on to show that if you get a profile-based call, you will need a lower percentile to get an interview call than if you get a score-based call.


How To Fill The S.P.Jain Application Form
A great profile needs to rank highly on the following parameters:

  •  Academic track record
  • Co-curricular & extra-curricular track record
  • Profile-specialization match

So a lot depends on making a good application that reflects each of these. We will look at a screenshot of how each component of the online application looks and then discuss the best way to go about filling it.


Academic Achievements

Academic achievements primarily relate to such achievements as standing in the top performers in your class at various levels, X, XII, Graduation Year or in an exam such as the NTSC or JEE or Math Olympiad.

How does one go about filling this part?

Make a list of all academic achievements. Rank order them not in chronological order but in terms of

  • Level of achievement or position you secured
  • Level of competition or perceived toughness – NTSC, Olympiads, AIEEE, JEE
  • The scale of the achievement – school, city, state, district national

In case you do not have 3 academic achievements then list co-curricular achievements such as paper-presentations, journal publications or anything that is related to your academics.

Describe in less than 50 words: Try to be as brief as possible if the achievement is something that can be easily understood. Use the remaining space to describe how this is something that you have been consistently good at. For example, you have only one top 1-5 in terms of academic achievement but you have always been driven to do well academically. Add that part in the description — throughout your education, you have stood in the top 10% (do not write 10%, calculate your position) of your class etc.

Add anything that puts your achievement into perspective — the only person from your town/village/school/institution to achieve this, the number of participants etc.


Versatility

For the versatility section please make a list of all your areas of interest that fall out of the curricular and co-curricular category.

Do not approach it from the perspective of what evaluators might find attractive but rather look at the level of interest/achievement you have in that area. For example, if dancing is your biggest passion/interest then rank it first. Do not rush to rank social-service activities first.

If you have certificates and achievements great, but even if you do not, you can still go ahead and fill up three areas as long as you have a strong interest and have done more than your peers.

For example, if reading is a major passion, you will not have any certificates to show for the same! But use the description space to present how much you like reading — favourite genres, favourite authors, reading since age so and so, read so many books a month etc. Any genre is fine as long as it has some international/intellectual significance. For example, fantasy, science-fiction, historical fiction, all are fine. Just ensure that you do not cite Chetan Bhagat :-).

The same applies to any other area of interest that does not correspond with certificates. Applicants from this part of the world (TN & AP), please do not write watching movies since everyone does it. If you watch world cinema or any specific genre of movies a lot, are knowledgeable and can hold a conversation about the same then you can go ahead and mention movies.

Since this deals with versatility ensure that you choose three different areas. If you have participated in CSR activities at your workplace or volunteered for NGOs please include that as well.

Most importantly, when it comes to extracurriculars (not to be confused with interests), please understand that it is not a case of what you have done but what you have accomplished. So participation in various events is just that participation, no points for that, did you win anything is the question.

Again this does not apply to interest such as theatre or plays. For example, I will cite theatre or dramatics as an area of interest and cite that I have played major parts in plays right from my early schooling to college and PG, the high-point being a performing XYZ play directed by ABC etc.

Overall Versatility Rating: Rate yourself based on the diversity of things you have participated in and the level of interest across areas.


Responsibility Shouldered

The two sections, personal and professional are clearly demarcated.

In the personal section, include any activity where you took or were given the responsibility. They can be

  • on-going or long-duration responsibilities such as helping you brother/sister in his/her education or guiding him/her throughout, taking up some household responsibility owing to a family situation (working parents), or
  • specific short-duration responsibilities such as arranging the wedding of a sibling or family member etc or having to help out your parent in a specific task etc.

In the professional section include responsibilities that you undertook that were not part of your KRAs or job description. They can be can be

  • handling responsibilities higher than your designation due to the absence of manpower
  • special projects/initiatives that you undertook or were given to you
  • organizing events at your workplace

In both cases use the description to put in perspective

  • the scale/importance of responsibility,
  • the role you played and
  • the quality of the outcome

Programme Details

This is possibly one of the most important aspects of applying to S.P.Jain — choosing the right specialization.

How does one go about this? The first question is whether you are applying with work experience or applying as a fresher.

Work-experience candidates should apply to the area in with the reason “relevant work-experience”. This has to be the first preference.

If you are applying with IT work-experience, unless you can really connect the nature of your work with another specialization, choose Information Management (IM). In previous years, applicants whose profiles did not match with the specialization they applied to have been reassigned to a different specialization! DO NOT make your first preference based on “special interest in this area”, make that your second preference.

In many cases, you might not find your profile relevant to any other area apart from the one in which you have work-ex. In this case, choose any of the areas as a second preference citing special interest in this area.

Freshers should apply only to Marketing or Finance.

Operations and IM both attract recruiters who are looking at people with relevant work-ex. The batches of both streams usually have an average work-ex of at least 2 years.

If your job profile involves being part of the design, procurement, production, quality control, maintenance, or logistics — anything that is part of the entire process of manufacturing and delivering a product or service (not IT products or services) — you can apply to Operations.

Mechanical engineering freshers also do not stand a chance of getting an Operations shortlist since management roles in Operations cannot be given to a fresher, recruiters look for candidates with hard-core ops work-ex.

The same thing applies to CSE/IT freshers applying to IM. Post an IM  degree you will be handling business roles in IT and there is no way you can take these roles up without having been part of a software product/services projects.

Non-engineering freshers such as Commerce, Economics or BBA graduates can apply to Finance. You can choose a second area as Marketing based on “done specialized courses in this area” or “special interest in this area”.

The reverse holds true for Engineering freshers, Marketing first and Finance next.

Please note that for Finance you will be competing with people who have “graduated in related area” such as the backgrounds mentioned above and CA. So do not mention it as your first preference unless you are really serious about it and are sure that despite your profile not being relevant you will get a shortlist through a stellar CAT score.

A safer option is to apply to Marketing (since recruiters in this sector look for freshers) based on  “special interest in this area” and Operations/Finance as a second preference under “done specialized courses in this area” or “special interest in this area”, whichever is relevant.

If you are mentioning Special Area Of Interest, you have to provide an explanation in 50 words.

Use this space to mention

  • why you like this specialization and how your skills or traits are aligned to the same and
  • the things you have done informally that demonstrate your special interest in this area.

You might have done a lot of things for which you have no certificates to show —

  • say organizing events in your college and firm or working unpaid for an event management for Marketing
  • following stock-markets or investing on your own keenly for finance
  • in both fields, you can mention the books that you have read to improve your knowledge of the same

The last part of the form is the work-experience details, the filling up of which should be pretty straightforward.

Also, freshers — internships DO NOT COUNT as work experience, whether it is done before or after college; work-experience needs to be full-time, paid, work. Start-ups can be counted as work-experience provided you have registered the firm and have proof of the same. Work experience in the family business also needs to be supported by salary slips.


Will I get a call from S.P.Jain?

If you look at the comments thread for this post you will see that there is a deluge of queries.

It is understandable. Everyone would be jumping at the chance to get a call at 85 and they just want to know if they can get a call.

Here is a simple way to figure out if you will get a call.

First Milestone — Profile-Specialization Alignment

Please understand that profiles are not evaluated independently of the specialization you have applied to.

Most aspirants think that profile-based calls evaluate the quality of your academics, extracurriculars, and work-ex in isolation. Wrong.

The question is never — do you have a good profile.

It is always — do you have a good profile for Marketing, Finance, Operations or IM.

So if you are planning to apply to specializations without following the guidelines above then you are taking a risk and you can rest assured that in all likelihood you will not get a call.

Second Milestone — Academics

If you have more than one — X, XII or Graduation — less than 80 then a profile-based call is well-nigh ruled out.

Please understand that since they are giving out calls at 85 percentile, they will expect you to have the academic capability to handle a rigorous 2-year MBA program. The only way for them to check this is your past Acads.

You might have a 90 or 10 CGPA in your X, a 75 or 7.5 in your Grad, both of which are great, but if your XII marks are less than 80 due to your IIT attempt, then there is no way that with two 70s you can get a call unless you some insane spike in your work-ex or extracurriculars.

Third Milestone — Extracurriculars

Extracurriculars kick in only after you have cleared the other two milestones. Given India’s population, you know that there would be enough people who clear the first two. This is where a good extracurriculars or versatility comes into the picture.

A good extra-curricular profile can be one that has a major achievement in one area — state/national-level sports, concert-level musician/dancer or any other achievement that clearly puts you in the top percentiles in that area — and one more interest which can be minor.

Another kind of profile can be one that has a lot of width — sports, music, social work, leadership — average achievements in one or two areas and minor in others.

I have had the odd student — an engineer with good academics and a big brand work-ex — who got a call for Finance but have not seen a single case where they eventually cleared even the first Group Interview. They themselves felt that the peer group they were sitting with was in a different league as far their knowledge and profile-match for Finance went. The same students made it to IIM-B and other big schools but could not clear the first Group Interview of SPJIMR.

So before commenting and asking me whether your profile is good, please do a sanity check above.

If you clear all the milestones your profile will be competitive.

But does it guarantee a call, it depends on the quality of the other applications.

For Finance, for example, you will be competing with candidates with two 90s and an 80 and a big brand Commerce college plus a CA/CPT/IPCC plus big brand work-ex plus social work and other extracurriculars.


SPJIMR Current Batch Profile

SPJIMR puts out the summary profiles of all the candidates who are part of the current batch. We took an exhaustive look at it and this is what we found:

MARKETING: 25 percent freshers, mixed educational background

FINANCE: 25 percent freshers, only 1 engineer

OPERATIONS: Only 1 fresher (city-topper in graduation), average work-ex of 2.5 years, 50% mechanical engineers

IM: No Freshers, only 2 students with less than 24 months of work-ex, all candidates had IT/Tech work-ex


What if I  DO NOT want to apply to the specialization my profile is aligned to?

Well very often, especially for those with IT work-ex, the whole point of an MBA is to escape IT and rediscovering one’s real passion:

  • Marketing — owing to an extroverted personality that puts people at ease or above-average exceptional communication skills or something that tells you that you will be great at making ads
  • Operations —  Mechanical Engineers, usually
  • Finance  —  it is either straightforward – the money and glamour associated with Finance as projected through Wall Street and Wolf of Wall Street, a fascination with stock markets knowing a thing or two about it and maybe having invested your own or someone else’s buck or two, a fascination with stock markets knowing nothing about it or a reason that is still inscrutable like the nature of God

So whatever your reason, if you want to change your domain — do not apply to SPJIMR. Both recruitments and admissions are aligned to profiles.

Does this mean that your MBA dreams are sealed?

Not really.

All other b-schools give you more leeway in that you are not asked about your choice of specializations in the application and in the interviews but only your reasons for an MBA in general.


What sort of profiles get calls

The whole idea of a profile-based call is to give calls out to exceptional profiles even if the CAT percentile is quite low.

From past data, it is very clear that they look at exceptional academic profiles first and then they look at other aspects of the profile. This is but understandable since the MBA is an academically rigorous course, so if they are letting you are a much lower level of CAT score, you need to have a much higher level of academic profiles. 

Think of it this way, they have a certain weight for X, XII, Grad, and CAT Score. If your X, II, Grad are so good that you will get very high marks for those, a lower CAT Score will suffice.

A 90/90/80 is par for a SPJIMR profile-based call. It is pretty tough to get a profile-based call with lower marks than these, unless you have some crazy national level achievements or a professional degree such as a CA or CFA that is very relevant for a Finance specialization.

Do not take my comments about whether you will get a profile-based call or not as a referendum on the quality of your profile for MBA applications in general and become despondent!

Also, do not take rejection from SPJIMR for a profile-based call as a rejection of your profile. SPJIMR will give you a score-based call, even after rejecting you for a profile-based call if you score above 96-97 percentile!

Another thing, I do not blog for a living, I am the Chief Learning Officer for IMS and do this out of my interest over and above my daily responsibilities. Why am telling you this? So that you don’t get jittery if you do not receive an immediate reply and post — Sir, please reply sir comments 🙂 You will usually get a reply anywhere within a minute to 36 hours depending on my schedule.

This has already been a super-long post. Hope I have covered most of the stuff needed to fill the form and give you a fair idea of whether you will get a call.

In the comments section, you will have seen that I have personally replied to individual requests for profile assessments. I would like you to post a comment only if you feel that you have a query that the post does not answer. I can easily make out if someone has only skimmed through the post and dumped their profile in the comments looking for a quick-fix 🙂

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