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NIFT to IIM Trichy - Niharika's design to business journey

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

In our quest to show how varied one can be but still go for an MBA we have got various people on board. From a Cabin crew to an Indian Airforce officer and many CAs. Today we bring to you a graduate from NIFT who has bared CAT to land herself in an IIM.

Niharika Pipariya is a Communication Design Graduate from NIFT Bengaluru. An incoming PGP student at IIM Trichy, she has interned with various organisations during her undergrad days, including Allen Solly for her summer internship. Her main fields of work are branding, marketing, and content creation.

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“When we repeat history, we waste our own story” - An over-enthusiastic B school newbie

We read about the lives of successful people. We’re made to learn from their experiences and follow their ‘daily morning routines’ (where did ‘eat an almond every day’ come from again?).

We imbibe their morals and hard work ethics, and inculcate them to our lives, hoping that we too someday, will grow up to be like them. Amidst this plethora of winners’ tried and tested ideas lies our individuality- decisions that we must make to understand who we are as people. What makes each one of us unique?

I look at degrees as a creative recipe for one’s life. You decide what subjects and courses you want on your plate and voila, you have a gourmet career. You either mix the right quantity of majors and minors to get the role you want, or you end up as a highly qualified yet bad tasting dish.

There’s something about being an academically straight-A student in our society that convinces us that art is not our cup of tea. The art of being creative and designing is limited to the tag of a hobby- something you do to RELAX. And when you come from a family of 17 doctors with your father being an IIM Ahmedabad alum and your mother, a designer from NID, believe me, it’s a wild chance to even consider adding it to your recipe!

I have been blessed immensely with parents who stood by my decision and supported me when I told them I wanted to pursue Fashion Communication from the most prestigious fashion institute in India, National Institute of Fashion Technology. At the time, I didn’t know how much value this degree would add to my MBA aspiration.

Much like its name, Fashion Communication in its simplest form is a course that deals with the usage of design in the field of communication. I learned the skill to build brands from scratch - beginning from a simple mind map to an actual packaged product. I was taught to understand target audiences and design effective marketing strategies to appeal to them. I’ve made posters, websites, brand collaterals, product packaging, and brand guide manuals.

And during this journey of learning design, it was important to keep in touch with what’s happening in the industry. While we are at college studying the defined syllabus, the industry is constantly going through massive changes and trend forecasts that we would not have even heard of! The need to stay updated pushed me to take up my many internships. Also, a bit of FOMO anxiety, I must admit.

College is the best time to explore your many interests and take your shot at the hit and trial trick to figure out what excites you. Since I was aware of my inclination towards creative writing, I started off as a content writing intern. I then moved on to social media marketing followed by visual merchandising. With each experience, be it a month, the opportunity to meet new people helped me understand the perspectives of different companies and how unique each of their goals are. Reverie Language Technologies helped me in time management to complete the daily office work whilst handling college assignments and submissions. Simbus Technologies showed me how important it was to research a topic- to live, eat, and breathe your thesis. My social media marketing skills began with Edumonk and Wooplr.

In the pre-final year of college, something hits us. What next? There are some who say they’re not interested in studying further, MOST who say ‘work for a year and then masters’ and those who are already planning their wedding.

I was selected by Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd. (ABFRL) to do my Summer Internship with Allen Solly. Further, I was offered to work on my final year design project in collaboration with ABFRL. The ‘on field’ thrill of working on live projects with the excitement to prove yourself is exhilarating. It is enough to push oneself to their maximum potential. The best kinds are those internships that make you go through hell leaving you awestruck by your own final outcome.

But the hustle didn’t end there. It had hardly begun. The question “What next?” echoed in my head often.

The unsettling feeling of an uncertain future is what made me set my mind on preparing for CAT. It gave me a direction, a purpose, and a goal to look forward to; a new reason to wake up every day. There’s something about life throwing us into the deep end that makes us emerge stronger. I had lost touch with math and I knew Quant would be the death of me (Read here for Quant tips). I would study every day after college and solve mock papers simultaneously. English, fortunately, has always been my strong point owing to the rigorous convent school education. Thank god for ICSE!

Preparing for CAT was an internal battle- I knew if I slacked, there would be no one to blame but myself. Also, let’s admit it, the lavish-looking campuses of IIMs are quite a sight to dream for.

When I received THE email that I was shortlisted for the interview round, I was overwhelmed! I couldn’t believe I was this close to getting into an IIM. But that also came with the anxiety of having to stand out amongst people who had years of work experience. My mother told me- Just be clear, believe in your vision, and act as you belong. Fake it till you make it!

I walked in with a big smile and an even bigger design portfolio with a dozen certificates for fashion styling and animal care- how peculiar it must’ve been even for the panel to see. I was asked questions about the future of fashion retail, the sustainability aspect of the industry (second largest polluting industry in the world) and they even gave me a chance to present my projects.

It was a wonderful interactive session wherein at no point did they question me “why MBA after fashion?”. They saw my vision, they knew the importance of having knowledge in the design field and its significant role in the industry’s future. Fate has it, I converted 8 IIMs and chose to accept IIM Trichy. Oh, the relief amidst a global pandemic was a sweet escape.

Looking ahead on my goal to specialize in marketing, I have observed that all sales come down to presentability. What looks good, sells the goods. It’s what differentiates a brand’s individuality- of course, the product itself must have substance to gain the consumers’ loyalty- but to be given that chance it needs to appeal to the target market. I’m thrilled- if I’m allowed to say even overly excited- to be a part of the IIM Trichy family. Moreover, I’m really looking forward to studying at the beautiful campus as soon as this virus goes away!


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Interested in learning about how to approach the CAT? Check out our Strategise the CAT series here!

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