How it Began
Like all good stories, this also begins with a small boy from a small city aiming to punch above his weight.
As is the case with most of the Indian middle-class families, mine is also of the view that the best way to rise above mediocrity is through meritocracy. I am not sure how the uber-rich or the remarkably poor manage wealth (or the lack of it). But, the remaining people consider the education of the children as the safest bet for a better future.
My sister was pursuing her MBA from a private b-school when I was in class IX. It was then that I was introduced to the world of Marketing, Finance, IIMs, CAT and all the other jargons which feature extensively on portals such as this. I made up my mind that irrespective of the kind and quality of my graduation, I would do an MBA come what may!
Class XI, XII & a Drop Year
I strongly feel that there should be one more year between class X and XI for the Science students. I was fairly good at Maths & Science till Class X but somehow, I failed to keep up with the sudden change in the gear of the two subjects in Class XI. My marks dropped and so did my interest.
Poor preparations reflected in the first attempt of the entrance tests and I chose to take a year drop. In the second attempt, the results weren’t as bad, but they weren’t notable either. Somehow, through CCB (AIEEE Counselling) I received an admission offer from a little-known central university of Chattisgarh.
Did I have a choice to prepare again? Yes. But did I want to? No. I had realized by then that in order to score well you need to enjoy a subject – and frankly, yours truly didn't!
I joined the college and thought of making the most of whatever I had. Also, the dream which I had seen back in class IX was still intact. I knew that I had to prepare for CAT, score good and get into a top Business school of the country. How else would a middle-class boy with all his values in place redeem himself!
CAT Preparation and CAT 2013
So I began my preparations for CAT while in the 3rd year of B.Tech. Most of my preparation revolved around mock tests, analysis and tutorial videos available online.
I took CAT 2013 and tried giving my best but wasn’t confident of crossing the 95th percentile. I scored 97.11. I was relieved that the score would fetch me some decent calls. Unfortunately, I was unaware (read, less bothered) of the weightage b-schools have for profiles, GDs and PIs. I missed my chance of converting any good call that I had.
Job and CAT 2015
I joined a major IT services company as do a lot of disillusioned fresh engineers of the country. I began fixing bugs, raising issues and maintaining softwares which bore little significance to my life or the people I interacted with every-day.
I knew that I was not doing justice to my potential and therefore, my anxiety began to grow.
For CAT 2015, I did not prepare much other than brushing up the old concepts through video lectures. I scored 90.93. With the score and better awareness, I was able to convert some decent calls but the aim to study in a top business school was still unfulfilled.
One afternoon, after all the results of the season were out, I was contemplating my options and future career path. While standing in the break-out area of my workplace and drinking another cup of diabetes-inducing coffee, I made up my mind – one final shot.
This was going to be my third attempt and I had started over-hearing jokes and banters from my colleagues. But all this did not deter me as I knew that the task at hand was worth all the struggle, ignominy and minor upsets.
For CAT 2016, I joined weekend classes of a coaching. For a working professional, CAT preparation is an entirely different experience because you’ve to manage your time well, skip office parties on the weekends to attend workshops or seminars, rush back home after work to solve the pending worksheets and lie to your seniors about your growth plans with the company while booking slot for the next mock test.
The third attempt turned out to be more adventurous than I had anticipated (Check my Quora answer on this, here.) I scored 97.67. I was pleased with the score cause by this time I had developed enough confidence in myself to crack the best calls. For GD-PIs, I attended multiple mock PIs and GDs to hone my skills and build my knowledge.
After all the hard work, patience and determination, I started receiving final admits from all the b-schools which had either rejected or not shortlisted me in my first two attempts.
I managed to convert all the new IIMs and some other top management institutes. However, I chose NITIE over other colleges primarily because of my profile and aspirations. I am sure I would have done equally well with the other choices but this college was always among my most preferred due to strong placements, amazing ROI, diverse job profiles, and the city of Mumbai.
How do I feel now?
All the failures taught me a lot. Those failures have made or unmade me what I am today. Had there been no XI/XII debacle probably I would have lost the urge to prepare for CAT. Had I made it to a top b-school in the first attempt itself, I won’t have understood the importance of hustle and success which eventually follows.
Here at NITIE, when I hang out with some of the best brains of the country, I realise that I have taken a leap.
The now grown-up boy from the small city still has a long way to go from here. However, he feels he has taken one right step towards building his career and making his parents proud.