"It always feels impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela
Two years ago, as an engineering graduate straight out of college, I had a dream. With everyone around me going for an M.Tech or an MS, I had a different plan and had set up my mind. I wanted to be an HR. Now as I open the XLRI final offer letter in my phone repeatedly, I realise my dream is about to come true.
It had always been very clear to me. A few years of work experience and then an MBA programme. So I accepted an IT job at the first company that came on campus. I completed my graduation in May and my joining date at the company was a few months away. I had a few months at my disposal which I thought I could make use of for my MBA applications. At that time, I lived in a city that did not have many opportunities for an internship in Human Resources. I started looking for Work-from-Home internships online and finally got selected for one. This is an earnest suggestion for anyone who is planning for an MBA, try an internship in your area of interest. It will help you decide if you want to make your career in that field. I thoroughly enjoyed my internship and my interest in HR was reaffirmed.
I joined Infosys in October 2017. Infosys has a foundation programme in Mysore for all trainees that lasts for around five months. A lot of my colleagues were appearing for CAT and XAT that year but I didn't. I knew I couldn't handle training as well as MBA preparation. I feel this decision of mine helped me a lot. I am sure I wouldn't have scored much had I taken that attempt and those scores would have discouraged me from taking another attempt. Soon I completed my training and joined a project at Infosys. I was shifted to Mangalore in March 2018 and was mapped to a very demanding support project. I still had the dream to be an HR inside me but I felt like I didn't have the time to devote for preparation. I was working till late and sometimes even on weekends. The few days that I had free was spent with friends over day-outs or for catching up on sleep.
I remember it was August when I finally bought the books needed for preparation. I decided to appear for CAT which was to be held in December 2018 and XAT in January 2019. For me, these were just going to be practice attempts and I had decided that I would be giving a serious attempt the next year. Soon, I learnt that the more I started preparing, the more interesting it got. The work pressure was also increasing everyday and many a times I would end up not getting time to study. I was also not enjoying my work at Infosys. I wanted to quit as soon as possible. That is when I realised, why not give a serious attempt the first time itself. I started waking up early before office and staying up till late to study.
I knew that I was fairly good at the sections Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning. My real fear was Quants (Yes I'm an engineer who doesn't love numbers) and hence most of my study time was spent in it. I had only applied to a few colleges that had specialised programmes in HR. Then came December and the CAT exam. The Quant section was tougher than usual and was a disaster for me. I knew I had underperformed in Quant and finally ended up scoring an abysmal 79.86 percentile in Quant. Even though my overall percentile was 98.43, all the colleges I applied to, required a minimum of 80 percentile in all sections. I lost all hope and at one point even thought of calling my MBA dream quits.
I still had the XAT exam to attempt but I wasn't confident that I would make it into XLRI since XAT is known to be tougher than CAT. I still remember going into the exam centre casually since I was sure that I would mess up. I attempted the Verbal, Logical and Decision Making section with ease and then came Quant. I went through the questions in a glance and was shocked. There were a lot of Geometry and Trigonometry (my strong sections in Mathematics) questions that I could easily attempt. Also many of the Arithmetic questions were doable too. Suddenly I felt confident. I told myself that maybe I couldn't score well in CAT because XLRI had somehow chosen me. I attempted the GK section well too (thanks to all the newspapers and magazines I read in office out of boredom). I remember coming out of the exam centre extremely happy. Soon, everyday, I was anxiously refreshing the XLRI result page. Finally it came. My XAT percentile was 98.97! Some would say it isn't that great a percentile but I was more than happy that I had cleared all the sectional cutoffs and that I had an interview call from XLRI.
From that day I started preparing for the WAT-GD-PI round. I read a few interview experiences and I made my own fat notebook of anticipated interview questions and my answers to them. I left no stone unturned to reach my end goal. Before I knew it, I was in Bangalore for my XLRI interview. The interview panel seemed to want to know me as a person and were asking me a lot of behavioural questions.
Finally came the question, "Why HR"? Little did they know that this was the question which I had known the answer to for the past two years.