Hi Sreeni Sir, hope you are doing well!
Sir, since I am doing this for the first time, please ignore anything silly! I hope that I am able to convey my thoughts and my journey within the limited spectrum of words that are out there because sometimes words are not enough to express all the emotions and experiences we experience in our life and also that it inspires other aspirants to take action to achieve what they want in life!! Here it goes,
Somewhere back in May 2018, about one year ago, I read this somewhere, “We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome”
My journey, from preparing for CAT till the interview process, is a tale of self-realization and the importance of necessity in one’s lives.
It’s been a funny year for me! I was a sad and demotivated software engineer working for an unorganized IT company where politics had more role to play than software development itself. Meanwhile, a very close friend was preparing for CAT. I remember, very clearly, I was on a midnight con call with my ‘bros’, one of them was the CAT guy, the other one was GRE guy and then there was me, unsure about my own capabilities and sad with my professional life, when they said that it’s not necessary to stick to one organization and suggested that, maybe, all I was looking for was a change!
The word ‘change’ struck me. Indeed I needed a change in my life. Now the question was, what kind of change? At that time, I never knew the answer would change my life forever.
So, as all mortals do it, I googled, How can I change myself? I found this, ‘CHANGE YOUR ACTIONS, NOT YOURSELF‘. Voila!!
Yes. I was doing a lot of things the wrong way. I needed to take charge, analyze the weak areas and work on them. And, yes, stop being unkind to myself and start loving and appreciating myself more for all the things I already had. I NEEDED A MINDSET CHANGE!
I spent the next week making a list of things that were not present in my life, or I felt needed to be worked on. The list had things from both personal and professional life. One of them was how much I sucked at managing everything and my dream of becoming a top executive one day. With my current job, level of expertise and qualification, becoming a top executive seemed like an unachievable dream. So, I starting researching about how I can make that happen. I zeroed in on MBA. CAT or GMAT? CAT, because, you know, MONEY.
Since I was working full time, I needed to manage my time well in order to make time for studying. Also, there was a need to go the quicker route as CAT was just 6 months away and all I could manage was 3 hours per day for preparation. The quickest way were mocks. Mind you, at this point I was counting on my memory, that whatever I had learnt in 10 standard hadn’t been flushed out of my head. So my prep started with giving mocks right from the beginning, then taking time out to analyze them and then just revising those topics where I was committing recurrent mistakes. For this I needed the best platform where the mocks were closest to the actual CAT exam and the analysis simple and easy to understand. I gave a number of free mocks online and Career Launcher had the best mocks to offer. So, I stuck to giving mocks on CL’s platform on a daily basis and I can’t emphasize enough how much it helped me. The post mock analyses really helped me in grasping quick problem solving skills that are of utmost importance for competitive exams especially for something like CAT. Along with mocks, I also felt the need to try questions that had been asked in CAT before. Here, my friend, who had been preparing for CAT for 2 years, suggested me a book he was using. It was topic-wise and year-wise solved papers from Career Launcher. I bought that book online and gave my heart and soul to CAT prep. I used to study from 11PM to 2AM. My prep went as follows, I divided the whole CAT syllabus into 12 topics, gave one mock from each topic, and followed it up with an analysis the next day which was followed by questions from the same topic from the book I bought. Rinse and repeat!
I would also like to admit that I kind of had a mental advantage because I was already working and didn’t have much to lose except for a few hours of sleep (BTW, Sleep is bae, so it was a lot for me).
My prep also included weekly discussion with my bros on questions that were unique in some way, or needed some help.
6 months of toiling paved the way for an excellent exam. I had exceeded my own expectations and so did my friend. The next day, or should I say midnight, I was on the con call and both of us were bragging about how good we thought we had performed and how likely it was that we would get in A,B or C. This called for celebration! Isn’t it obvious?
We planned to celebrate New Year in Goa, which then shifted to Gokarna, because you know, MONEY. We were ecstatic and obviously had a blast in Gokarna. We thought that we were the best!
Sounds really good isn’t it. A happy ending. Not really! Not yet!
Maybe, if you were paying close attention, you would realize my mistake. Somewhere between the post exam period and our trip, my confidence crossed its limits and I didn’t realize that.
It was mid-January, 2019 already, and I was under the impression that interviews would be a cake walk. I was a bit disappointed after I realized that I wouldn’t get a call from A. But, you know, my confidence was at such a level, or should I say, overconfidence, that I thought it doesn’t matter because I am gonna convert B anyway.
I was a bit reluctant initially, but on my friend’s aggressive insistence, I started searching for interview prep classes. I attended a few trial classes at various places in Connaught Place, finally zeroing in on CL. I got enrolled in the Personality Development Program Personalized at CL. I was seriously late because the classes were already in full swing (the batch starts in December and I got there in late Jan). But I was on cloud nine, and thought I was gonna rock it anyway. Idiotic me.
My first shock came in my first class itself because everybody were 99+%ilers in CL. Like everybody! And these people were freaking awesome. I was shocked. There were A, B, C call getters who had been preparing for interviews since Dec. I was no-where close to them. The kind of preparation tools CL had been giving them so far were excellent and they had made the most of it. And here I was! Lost in my own world! But I had done one good thing. I had joined CL and was put under GP sir’s mentorship. Words are not enough to tell how thankful I am to sir! My first mock was with sir. I was already late for the mock and was nervous. Sir suggested we start with the mock first and then we will do the analysis. Mock lasted for 15 minutes and I had bombed it. Now when I look back, I realize, I had it coming. I couldn’t even answer the basic questions. I remember it very clearly, after the mock, sir said, “Tumne toh puri tyaari kar rakhi hai apni calls waste karni ki, kahan the itne dino se?” I couldn’t have told sir that I was enjoying booz in Gokarna because my overconfidence took the better of me. Sir then made a complete timeline of all my life events and then he taught me a very important thing, “Each one of us has a unique story to tell and the ability to speak about it honestly and sincerely is what an interview is all about”. This advice changed everything for me. I took that sheet and started my prep. I took 20 days leave from office with a sole focus of getting to IIMB. Day in, day out, I used to stare at that sheet and make sample interview pitches. I then used to identify areas where I could be questioned, and I prepared for them. Interview after interview I kept on improving and by the time my IIMB interview was about to happen, I had knowledge of every domain that had a link to my life in some way or the other. This is what I got from CL. A strong foundation!
Now, here, I am, an IIMB convert, waiting to take on MBA with full power hoping that I am able to make my family and mentors proud. What did I learn? Never celebrate too early and remember to have an awesome mentor like GP sir! Thank you sir!
My advice to future aspirants, work hard, dream, make friends that force you to level up and most importantly never stop improving yourself. Your life is a story, make sure to make it the best one!