Should You Leave Your Job For Full-time CAT Preparation?

In 2015, as a working CAT aspirant, I always had these questions on my mind: “Should I leave my IT job to concentrate on the CAT 2015 preparation.”
I didn’t leave my job because I could somehow manage my time and had taken CAT twice before. But not everyone has a job which gives them some time to prepare. Aspirant working in core sectors or the field jobs have a 6-day week and rotational shifts that makes streamlined preparation very difficult. Even many people in IT or desk jobs, who haven’t prepped for CAT before and don’t have time for joining any coaching, would face this question.

So taking into consideration the above factors, let me first walk you through future situations where your work-ex is crucial and where it isn’t.

  • If you are planning to make your career in consulting, work-ex of more than 2 years is preferable. If companies look to hire consultants in IT domain, then people with previous IT work-ex are preferred and the pay is variable with years of prior work-ex. So it is highly recommended that you complete 2+ years if you are currently around the same bracket and aspire for consulting.
  • If you are looking to make a career for yourselves in FMCG/FMCD marketing or sales, prior work-ex of fewer than 24 months is preferred by the recruiting companies. These companies also prefer people with field work-ex. There is a logic behind this so you would get to know this when you join.
  • I don’t have much knowledge about Operations. But with my limited knowledge, I have observed that people with core industry work-ex are preferred in OPS roles.
  • Finance folks; If you have graduation in commerce/economics stream and relevant work-ex, you are the go-to person for any firm visiting. GEMS without any finance certification, your work-ex won’t be of much worth to financial firms, so be ready to get into the rat race once you join.

Now that you know the above facts, let me give you some tough scenarios. Answer them yourself:

  • Do you have any clarity on why do you want to do MBA? Do you know your interests really well? Can you clearly think of any of the above options as your career choice ahead?
  • If you leave your job, would you be able to dedicate yourself to CAT prep completely?
  • Do you have any backup option, if the CAT doesn’t go well? Does your skill set and experience have enough jobs opportunities?

Once you are done with the above questions, here are my 2 cents:

  • If you really want to go ahead with MBA but unable to prepare well for the CAT due to a hectic job, then leave your job ASAP. 5 years down the line, you would be cursing yourself that I couldn’t take that important decision and I’m stuck with the work for life.
  • If you are someone who can make time for your work, but still couldn’t concentrate; you won’t be able to do so without a job as well. It is about dedication and priorities.
  • Don’t give up with the thought that you can do executive MBA later. 2-years MBA can give you a chance to change the sector while executive MBA would provide seniors positions in the same industry as yours. Executive MBA is still many years for you; you never know if you can pursue that later in life.

In case you want to prepare for a full-time job, here’s an article that I wrote about Managing Work with CAT Prep.

Note: The assumptions that I’ve made above with respect to various specializations and job roles are based on my experiences in MBA. These are generalizations and may not be completely true. Take any decision after doing your own research well.

Good luck, Bell the CAT!

Sachin Mandot

Sachin Mandot is an IMT-G Alum (Batch of 2018). With an aim to help MBA aspirants, he has been writing on InsideIIM platform since March 2017.

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