There is a book by Ernest Hemingway, of a similar name, in which a man past his prime, chases a dream, only to lose it all in the end.
I find myself in the shoes of the old man- I gave interviews of B-schools I could only dream of getting calls from and I may not make it to even one of them, after months of preparation, mock interviews and uncertainty.
The proverbial "sea" represents the vastness of opportunities which lie ahead for me, which I can't see yet, but am hooked on to. I am letting these opportunities drive me farther away from my shore of comfort and I cannot let go off the "big fish" on my hook. Now, coming to a difficult question-
"What if I do not convert even a single call?"
This is a question which haunts each and every single MBA aspirant who has received interview calls. As the interview season is almost over and shortlists/wait-lists are around the corner, I found myself thinking about the same. I do have a "back-up" to fall back on if nothing works out at all, but what would it feel like to have zero converts out of calls from 4 top B-schools?
Whatever the feeling would be, it would definitely not be one of failure, dejection or heartbreak. At the same time, it would definitely pinch for quite a few months, or even years.
Let me put this straight right away- I would try my best not to sound preachy or sermonising in any manner. This post is an outlet for me so that I can read it whenever I feel lost or overthink about what can happen and what could have happened. It will also remind me to pick up the Hemingway classic and finish it again in one sitting ( grab it if you can; the best 130-odd pages you will ever read ).
I will merely list out the positives I can take from the last 4-5 months ( since I received interview calls ) and I hope the reader can also take something from this.
1. I became more self-aware - While preparing for questions which the interviewers might ask me about myself, I introspected deep, I truly searched within, to find out what and who I really am. No, nothing philosophical, but it was really enlightening to look for certain qualities of my personality, which let me look at myself in the mirror with a little bit of less disdain every morning.
2. I started knowing a little bit more - Exactly 6 months ago, I would not have been able to talk much about a lot of things going on in our country or around the world. Yes, even about the "burning topics". I would find myself silent and clueless in family discussions, not having anything to contribute. Not anymore.
3. I learnt about marketing - I am not talking about any videos or courses one can go through to learn about marketing management. I am talking about how I tried to make myself more marketable, more "sellable", to "potential buyers". Some P's of the 7 P's of marketing were present in every interview - I was the "product", the interview room was the "place", my 10th, 12th, graduation marks and CAT score were the "promotion", my well-pressed suit was the "packaging" and the interviewers were the "people". ( Help me out in describing the other 2 P's as per the analogy ). I tried hard to sell myself, put up the best possible show I could on the day and came back without even knowing whether the customers were interested in buying the product at all.
4. I became more self-confident - The increase in self-confidence was a by-product of the intense marketing activity during the interviews. I am an introvert and take a lot of time in talking comfortably to absolute strangers ( Not a great quality for a manager, I know ). But, after these interview experiences I found that I become an entirely different person- a confident "extrovert", who can talk sensibly and hold conversations with strangers- strangers who would decide what I would do for the next 2 years of my life.
5. I saw the competition and did not lose calm - For the first time since the results for CAT 2018 were declared, I saw the many people who wanted to tread upon the same narrow path as me. It was a humbling experience; it made me realise how small I was in the big picture and how I was "another brick in the wall" ( again, not trying to be philosophical ). It did not make me nervous at all; seeing 60 more people wanting be where I want to be, gave me the boost I needed to enter the interview room with a real smile.
This list is not exhaustive at all; I have so much more to learn in the coming few months, waiting for results patiently, dealing with rejection stoically and watching the wait-lists move hopefully.
This is the "Panch-tantra" I would keep in mind when being tossed around by fate and fortune in the sea of uncertainty, full of fish of hope.