God helps those who help themselves – Sarthak, IIMB class of 2023

Hello sir,

Hope you are in the pink of health. I am really grateful to you for bestowing me with the opportunity of sharing my journey to my dream B-school, IIMB – ‘The place to be’. I am sure my story would be of immense help to future aspirants.

Let me start by introducing myself. I was born and brought up in Cuttack, Odisha. Right from my school days, I have actively been involved in sports especially cricket and chess. I am also an able video gamer, a cinephile and a paranormal expert as well.  I passed my higher secondary and senior secondary with flying colors scoring 95.00 and 95.20% respectively. Right from my childhood until very recently, I was never sure about my dreams or the career that I would pursue. So I went on to do what a normal person with decent acads and zero interest in biology does, i.e. ‘ENGINEERING’.

During my 4th year as a metallurgical engineer at NIT Rourkela, I cleared aptitude rounds for all companies that I sat for and also helped my friends in this regard. I attempted CAT for the first time in 2018, where I failed miserably and managed to secure a mere 88.68 percentile. Although I was strong theoretically, I was unable to solve a major chunk of questions on the D-day. I was shattered but eventually, I got busy with my final year tasks and responsibilities. Finally, I graduated from NIT Rourkela with a CGPA of 9.03, post which I went on to work at Vedanta Aluminium Limited as an assistant manager.

Being a metallurgical engineer, I had to spend most of my day on the shop floor where temperature would reach a whopping 65 degrees during summers. My dedication towards my job role earned me sweet rewards but drained me of the will and energy I needed to crack CAT. Adding fire to the fuel, were the odd shift timings and the burden of responsibilities that I was shouldered upon at work. That year I couldn’t prepare to the fullest for the CAT exam and scored just 89.1 percentile. I went into a state of shock but it was my mother who showed faith and believed in me when no one else did. Right at that moment, I decided to get up with all the strength that I had and use it to bell the CAT.

Right from March 2020, I started giving mocks after brushing up my theoretical knowledge a bit. Initially, my mock scores were mediocre and remained staggering around 80 percentile. I tried different strategies but I could barely reach 85 percentile sometimes. Back then I was constantly viewing motivational and strategic videos posted on youtube by CL gurus. That one formula by Gautam Puri sir was epic which stated, “When in doubt, leave the thing” and there I realized the blunder I was committing while giving mocks. It was my ego that wasn’t allowing me to let go of even those questions that had a 50-50 chance of getting solved by me. Once I knew my lacuna, there was no looking back. I gave 3-4 mocks a week and spent an ample amount of time analyzing them question by question. I had a knack for number crunching right from my childhood which helped me ace the quant and DILR sections. I realized for the DILR section, it was all about set selection. I gradually improved my passage-solving skills by reading 5-6 articles a day from a website called Aeon. By October, my mock scores remained constant in and around 97 percentile which boosted my confidence.

Right when the CAT exam ended, I knew I had given my best. So without wasting time I enrolled for the CL PDPP program and it proved to be my best investment. I was fascinated by the amount of efforts that Sreeni sir and other mentors took in enriching us. Meanwhile, I got my CAT results and I was elated to see 99.47 (98.57-verbal, 96.59-DILR, 98.99-quant) percentile flashing on my report card. Then, I took a leap of faith when I left my job in February in order to give the upcoming MBA interviews my best shot. As it’s rightly said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

But the most intimidating question that every b-school professor asks, ‘Why MBA?’ was something I wasn’t sure about. I contacted Sreeni sir to seek some sample answers for this question. But to my utter surprise that one conversation left me spell-bound and helped me find my ‘IKIGAI’ – the purpose of my life and my vision 2030. Right after realizing my ikigai ; SOPs and other intellectual questions asked by different b-schools became just a cakewalk for me. For my interviews, I went through ‘The Hindu’ and  ‘The Mint’ newspapers on a daily basis. I selected 3-4 key hobbies/topics that I had a grasp upon and ensured to roll my interview along the lines of those topics. My IIMB interview was centered around topics related to the Indian economy, middle-east war crisis, privatization of public industries, etc. and to be honest, it was quite thought-provoking.

Last but not the least, I believe the knowledge that a person withholds is worth rags if it’s not aided by efforts made in order to achieve milestones. A wise man once said, “God helps those who help themselves”.

Sarthak Siva Mishra, Class of 2023, IIMB

CAT –  99.47 percentile (98.57-VARC, 96.59-DILR, 98.99-QA)
(10th / 12th / B.Tech)- (95.00 / 95.20 / 90.30)

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