A: My maternal grandfather who was from 9 Para Field & a gallantry award winner was the first influence in my life that made me admire the Armed Forces. During my 12th standard, I’d cleared the NDA&NA exam, got recommended from an SSB & even cleared my Pilot Aptitude Battery Test but still could not make it through. I enrolled at Delhi University for the sole purpose of joining NCC. During my NCC tenure, I developed a taste for adventurous activities, did certifications from Indian Mountaineering Federation, participated in National Integration camps and reached India Nationals in the sport of shooting. During my final year of college, I cleared the CDSE for Indian Military Academy with an AIR 21. It was during my training days at IMA when I had an accident during a horse-riding session. This accident caused a spinal injury and doctors had to deem me unfit for combat and service.
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Q2. How did you handle your withdrawal from IMA? What inspired you to appear for CAT? Tell us about your CAT preparation, strategy and the interview experience?
A: After IMA I had spent months in a hospital bed and was in and out of hospitals for around 2 years. That is a phase where I had no life goals, I had lost my dream job and had no further course of action. Getting an MBA was actually my mother’s idea who has had a strong academic background and career. Honestly, my preparation for CAT started around one month before the exam. I solved 2/3 sample papers every day and by the last week I had figured out which topics were my stronghold. My strategy was to target questions from the topics I was well prepared for. This brought down my negative marks to minimal.
I had calls from IIML, IIMK and a few other IIMs under CAP. My IIMK & IIML interviews revolved extensively around my military background and my ability to adjust into the civilian setup. The questions asked were a mix of technical questions & questions on my journey. I answered whatever I could and humbly accepted whatever I did not know. On the other hand, I realized CAP interviews were poorly framed and even today I have no idea what they were looking for when they discussed the Mughal dynasty with me for 20 minutes in a half an hour interview. I cleared all the interviews I appeared for and IIML became my alma mater.
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Q3. How would you compare your life at IMA with life at IIML? What are the differences between the institutions?
A: In my opinion both the institutions need not be compared, and are both quintessences to their respective fields. Life at IMA is extremely rigorous. Your daily schedule will start at around 4 in the morning and go on till midnight and sometimes even till late hours. IMA’s training focuses on enhancing an individual’s Leadership traits, Decision-making abilities under stressful conditions, combat skills, weapon handling, manpower deployment, task prioritization and assignment, human resource management and Analytical skills. I, individually, might not find IIM as rigorous as people make it seem, but one significant similarity between both institutions is the astounding level of camaraderie between people. I found so many inspiring people at IIM, it is like everyone here can teach you something new. On a lighter note, coming from IMA, one thing I found amusing was the amount of cribbing that the majority of people did here.
Q4. Things/opinions about IIML where you do not agree with the general masses.
A: First, I do not believe this place should be addressed as HELL. Second, there are concerns raised on social media platforms about the administration and the PCom. I have personally witnessed the campus administration handle the onboarding of the batch on campus during a pandemic, organizing non-academic activities & maintaining a strong safety bubble. About the PCom, I have the utmost respect for these people. They are the most hardworking chaps I have come across on campus. Even after getting dragged through the mud here and there on social platforms, these people work tirelessly to get everyone an opportunity. Irrespective of what the world says about them being biased, I have never witnessed any favouritism.
Q5. Where did you intern and How was your internship experience?
A: I interned with Amazon. I knew a lot of retired officers who were working for Amazon, who had only high praise for their workplace. The leadership principles of the company are extremely in sync with my previous organization and I witnessed the same during my internship phase. I felt welcomed and even as an intern my opinion was always heard. I believe a lot of your internship experience is decided by the Manager or your Mentor, and in my case, even when this was my first corporate stint, my Manager and mentor both not only mentored me remarkably well but also made every task seem achievable.
Q6. What advice will you give to current interns for their internships?
A: First, being home and in your comfort zone, do not become indolent towards your work. Second, this being a virtual internship for most, it is extremely critical to get in sync with your Manager. Please do not get hyper about creating an impression, stay calm and composed and try to understand in depth what your deliverable is. Be vocal about your ideas and opinions, so that your manager can guide you better, for every idea you come up with, there is a scope of improvement.
Q7. Any Life Lessons for the incoming batch at IIML.
A: To the incoming batch, I would say, learn life skills and not just the academic paraphernalia thrown at you. Meet people, learn from them. In one of the conversations I had at IIM, a close friend taught me how in his previous organization they installed Oil Rigs in the deep sea. You will come across a very diverse crowd here, some really calm people, some over-enthusiastic ones and there is so much for you to learn from both the strata. Also, do not let your CGPA at IIM regulate your confidence in yourself. Learn what you came here to learn, make friends, and do not stress unnecessarily.