'But you're a dentist, why would you want to pursue MBA?'
This question dutifully followed me around, as I explained my career choice to my friends, family, fellow MBA aspirants, interview panelists and everyone in between. I did expect that question and I was prepared to take my stand but I would be lying if I said it never led me to question my choice.
As I entered my 3rd year, and was exposed to patient work in the departments, I became fascinated with the way the entire hospital was managed! While my fellows were drawn purely to the clinical aspect of our field, my mind also wanted to explore another side to it. This curiosity led me to explore management as a field itself and making the choice that brought me where I am today.
When I started, I hadn't touched numbers in over 7 years. To say my quantitative skills were a little rusty would be an understatement of gigantic proportions! However, I wasn't one of those students who'd opted for medical out of a fear of 'maths'. I was equally good at both of them, my interest and inclincation determining my final choice. This really helped me mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of quant that was to come my way.
I prepared for CAT 2019 and several other competitive exams, right alongside my final year and internship. While one day I would struggle to finish making the dentures I'd promised the patient, the other day I would be solving APs and GPs in class! It was a tough ride, to say the least. However, the strategy that ultimately helped me the most was giving mock tests without fail. There were days when all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book and just SLEEP. Those were the days I made it a point to attempt the mock, no matter what, and analyze it the next day. Truly, those mock attempts and rigorous analysis is what helped me the most in the end. For I realized, I didn't HAVE to solve all the tough questions. This was an exam that demanded your presence of mind and strategy more than anything else. I discovered where my strengths lay, and didn't waste too much time attempting something I knew was beyond my reach.
I was cautiously optimistic, hesitantly hopeful, and based on my mock analysis, expected to score a decent percentile and make it to one of the better colleges in India. However, this might be the one occasion where I grossly underestimated my capabilities, and the results were a surprise for me more than anyone else! 98.14 in CAT, 99.06 in XAT, 99.6 in SNAP...
As much as I was elated, I was also highly unprepared for the barrage of GDs and PIs that were to come my way. The next few months were a blur of memorizing random GK snippets, taking mock PIs, thinking up an answer clever/interesting enough to answer the dreaded, 'Tell me about yourself' question. My mental strength was challenged to the max during this time, as I faced one interview panel after the other and justified my career change to each of them. During the process, I realized that there are not many things under our control, and PIs are definitely not one of them! One random question from the panelist and out goes flying your entire strategy! But in the end, I believe it is about convincing them, that you are a candidate they should invest in, should trust in, and that's what I did.
It wasn't all roses and the rejections were aplenty, but in the end, I also had the satisfaction of knowing that I had given it my all. I will soon be entering the hallowed gates of one of the most prestigious institutions in India, XLRI Jamshedpur, taking up their flagship HR program! More than anything, I'm excited to push the boundaries of what I THOUGHT I could do, and end up surprising myself!
To anyone feeling unsure of themselves,
"I have a feeling that inside you somewhere, there's somebody nobody knows about."
Alfred Hitchcock Wilder
Hold onto these words and just believe in yourself.