My office had become very hectic. I had been plotted on a client which made me travel 5 hours a day and work for 9 hours. Studies were as erratic as can be. But the fire hadn’t died.
With time I knew that I would have to leave the company to pursue my ‘I’ dream. And I wouldn’t be able to deliver my 100% if I didn’t. And I never saw myself without an ‘I’ tag anymore. I believed taking another job would be a compromise.
I was scared to quit. I needed some courage so I went to talk to an old mentor of mine. He told me to do it. He said we’ll achieve it together and I’ll help you do it. And he’s been a guiding light and my life coach.
And around that time I saw a clip from a batman movie, Bruce is trying to jump out of the well. And he fails every time with the safety harness attached. A wise man says these words to him
Make the climb as the child did, without the rope
It was time to bid adieu to Bangalore and move on to prepare.
I said goodbye to the many amazing people I met there. Some managers that I truly respect.
And the hardest goodbye to my girlfriend. I would have to break up. It was time to focus on my career.
A new city. A new time table. A new energy.
I joined a coaching class knowing very well that I may not get great teachers, but I will have a solid support system and that is what I needed. And I found some amazing friends in Shubham and Bose here. I eventually prepared solely on my own. But I am grateful to CL for their support in strategizing, mock taking and GDPI prep.
I lived in a room with everything required for a student. But studied only at Barista (a coffee shop next to my place).
I woke up every day for the next 4 months at 8 am sharp.
Headed to the Barista nearby, bought the same Cappuccino with Hazelnut Add-on for 247 bucks (It is a scam). Read the newspaper. Added new words to my vocabulary diary. Re-read the previous day’s work.
I studied whatever was planned. Ate the Rajma Chawal. Studied some more. Chatted with the regulars at Barista and went home at 8 pm. Ate my tiffin dinner. Washed the dishes. And prepared for the next day. This continued and got more intense as the exams approached. And more dishes were left unwashed.
Mocks were underscored in. Tears were shed. I hated myself for quitting my job. Missed my friends. Thought about the future that might be.
Most days were bad.
Living in isolation can play a number on your mind. I thought I would go crazy.
If it weren’t for Shubham and Bose, I would be in an asylum somewhere.
Mocks ranged from 85 to 99. I felt bad seeing other consistent 99ers everywhere but I had no intention of stopping my routine. However difficult it got.
My mentor gave me nuggets of wisdom from time to time. And they are some things that an aspirant should know.
#1 Jogging is necessary.
#2 If you get complacent. You lose.
#3 The last stretch is the most difficult.
#4 Only the D-day matters.
After having followed the schedule for almost 4 months.
D-day was nearby.
And I knew one thing that would let me live peacefully however the result went.
I had done whatever I could do to be ready for this day. I had given my soul to this exam for the past few months. And I had no regrets.
D-Day: My center was particularly far away from my home so I took a hotel nearby. My parents accompanied me into the center.
I had arrived pretty early. It was a cold day. I had taken appropriate precautions. Just the right amount of clothing to not make me feel too hot or cold. They allowed us to wear our socks and that was great. I diligently wrote the tables, list of prime numbers and other things on my rough pad that could prove useful.
And soon it began:
VARC: My mind was functioning well. I was picking up answers with ease. Wasted some time on a summary question. I felt I knew the answer to some questions I left out. But the strategy was to play safe. Good section. Finished with 2 minutes to spare.
LRDI: The behemoth for me. The strategy was clear: Solve 4 sets with 100% accuracy. Picked the first set correctly. Finished it. Incorrect choice of the second set. Wasted time. 3rd set couldn’t solve. 4th set solved. 5th set solved. Went back to the ones I wasted time on. Marked one TITA. Decent section. A set less for a 98. But I’m happy.
QA: My strength. The strategy was to hit 25 correct. I was in for a shock. The paper was difficult. Immediately needed to re-think my strategy within 10 minutes. Do less. Do correctly. My nerves got the better of me. I missed a few sitters. Only 21 attempts.
I remember telling my dad.
“Lagta hai QA duba dega”
By the night, it was confirmed that QA was tough. Said to be the toughest of the decade. CAT authorities released the questions and key soon. I knew I had a chance. The next few weeks were spent on predictors and asking “gurus” what I would get as a percentile.
A month hence we heard that the results had been leaked. I was curious like any other. Checked the source code leak:
Not average but something spectacular.
I had not researched much about the calls I would receive at this percentile. I was in for a rude shock when I did not receive calls from ABC. But such is the norm for a General Engineering Male (GEM), and I accepted this as the way things are. In fact I laughed at my own luck for getting a K call.
The college I had written off as a pipe dream was the only one which gave me a chance.
My dream college had shifted from Ranchi to Kozhikode. It’s amazing how a few months of rigor show you what you are capable of. And it was settled in my mind. Either I’m going to K or NITIE. (and later on, MDI as it is a classy college too).
Interview preparation was over in a rush. I had the first day first slot for most of my interviews.
IIM Shillong was the very first b-school interview of my life.
I was absolutely slaughtered in my S interview. I regretted not appearing for some real interviews in 2017. I felt like going away and not coming back. I always believed that interviews and GDs have been my forte and I felt otherwise after S. (Ironically, I would get a direct convert to IIM S; which taught me that perceptions differ from what you think)
But I didn’t give up. I knew K was next. And I studied like a madman. As much as humanly possible for K. And the best part about this day was that I felt the same as I felt before CAT.
I had done whatever I could do to be ready for this day. I had given my soul to prepare for this interview. And I had no regrets.
The interview went fine. But not perfect. I was extremely hard on myself for not understanding the interviewer’s question. I hated myself for messing up a simple question like the CM of Telangana. I repeated the interview in my head a million times hoping that, he would forgive me.
And after this day, I left Kozhikode out of my thoughts. For my own sanity.
For desire also brings the greatest grief.
25th April 2019
K’s result was due anytime. I had been frantically refreshing Pagalguy to see the post of RESULTS OUT! I logged in.
“Congratulations RISHABH SINGH, CAT Registration Number xxxxxx. You have been selected for admission to the Post Graduate Programme 2019-21 of IIM Kozhikode”
Not average but something spectacular
I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe that the moment I had wanted since the start was there in front of me. All these months of hardwork had led up to this moment. It made me proud. I called up my Dad and shared the news. I hopped onto the train next day and delivered the news to my mom in person. It was a happy time.
It may not be the same for many. But for me,
CAT required sacrifices of love, work, friendship and my sanity.
But all’s well, that ends well.
I received a direct convert from IIM Ranchi as well. A lesser dream fell into place because of larger dream. It’s true what they say “Nothing succeeds like success.”
A word of advice: The journey is meant to be tough. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It will take something more than an average effort to crack. But for whatever you sacrifice, it becomes worth a few times more.
Oh also my “Above average but nothing spectacular” profile for analysis
Work Experience – 13 months in Risk Consulting
General Engineering Male (GEM) Tier 2
And the newest topping to the cake
IIM Kozhikode – Batch of 2021 :’)