Taming The Beast Called 'CAT'
Engineering is a religion they say. My family is a great practitioner of the same. Right from my grandfather to my mother, each one has learned technical education in some capacity or the other. My engineering journey has been non-conventional. I did a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and later completed my B.Tech from College of Engineering, Pune.
In August 2016, I started working in an automotive OEM in its core manufacturing division. I was fortunate enough to work directly with the CEO of the company. The discussions I had with people in the higher management convinced me to try for an MBA. I knew from the start what I was getting into, being weak in maths and logical reasoning didn't help either. I gave CAT 2017 and ended up scoring a meagre 80% tile. Seeing the results, I was convinced that cracking CAT wasn't my cup of tea and almost gave up on my dream. But looking at my friends who had already converted big colleges was a source of motivation.
I decided to appear for CAT '18 and scored 95.65 %tile. I knew it wasn't great considering how many people score 99+ %tile but on a personal level, it was a great achievement for me considering how poorly I had scored last time. With a good academic background and decent overall profile that I had, I received calls from BLIK, SPJIMR, NITIE, SJMSOM, New IIMs.
Every CAT aspirant will tell you the importance of WAT/PI process in converting the calls. I had a profile based call for S.P. Jain and had an interview scheduled on 17th Jan. The group interview was horrible and I was eliminated in the first round itself. I understood the kind of competition out there. While preparing for CAT we aspirants tend to build a cocoon around ourselves under the guise of distractions. Sometimes , we are so self-occupied that we lose the grip of competition around us.
That interview was an eye-opener for me. The dates of the next interviews weren't announced yet and I was diligently preparing for them hoping that they will be scheduled in the month of February going by the trends of last year. I was in for a rude shock when on 27th, I received a mail saying that Lucknow has scheduled its interview on 31st Jan.
I was in a panic mode for the next few days. The WAT went well but the interview was a stress interview. The panel kept on questioning each of my answers and almost laughed at some of my answers. I knew I had blown the chance and started preparing for the next interviews. New IIMs interview was very good and had a healthy discussion with the panellists.
Next came the IIM-B interview, I couldn't sleep the previous night due to anxiety. The panellists were very receptive to my thoughts which gave me the confidence to tackle even some of the tricky questions. The discussion lasted for 20-25 mins and revolved around my work profile, hobbies, and government policies. Stepping out of the room I knew, I had done my best. I knew given my low percentile the chances of making it to IIM Bangalore were slim but I had hope.
“Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
The confidence post the interview helped me perform well in SJMSOM and NITIE interviews.
(I will write the detail interview experience of each college here or in my personal blog. Whenever I do so I will post the link here.)
IIM Ahmedabad had announced its results on 5th April and going by last year trends, IIM Bangalore too was expected to announce results in the first week of April. It was 8th April, I was watching a series on my laptop and checking out the admission portal on the side for updates. Suddenly a mail pop-ups in my notifications and I couldn't believe my eyes. It was an offer letter from IIM Bangalore. All the anxious days, sleepless nights and efforts I had put in finally paid off.
To my surprise, I had converted IIM I, L, K, NITIE, and SJMSOM as well.
1. You are not alone in this. Every aspirant goes through ups and down in his/her journey and you must not give up until you have made it to your dream college
2. Having said that we need to be pragmatic and honest with ourselves while preparing.
3. It's imperial for all aspirants to write an SOP for themselves even if the college doesn't ask so. It brings in a lot of thinking and understanding of ourselves when we introspect.
4. Interact with people while preparing for CAT and interviews. It helps to bring in outside perspectives and learn from people's journey.
(Note- I belonged to NC-OBC category)