Part 6 : One year of Exciting Journey

One year of Exciting journey is over in college for Appu. It has been roller coaster for many  students similar to Appu. Every where there is excitement in this premier college. Everyone seems too much interested in their own world of clubs, marks, subjects, placements, networking and exploration of different opportunity. For Appu, the lifestyle in college seems very difficult to digest and impractical to manage. In one year he has learnt so many things which he hopes will be useful in real life after college.

The clubs are many, but not as many as for everyone’s satisfaction. Supply and demand. The club selection gives the glimpse of real life after MBA or show how life should be. As usual because of more demand,  Appu’s batch mates are putting their best efforts in all means to get selected. The selection in clubs gives the identity, prestige and power among the fellow students and also resume points. Who doesn’t want that kind of opportunity? The selection process some times have gone till morning and no one is worried about timings. With in short time after college start, many people seem accustomed to this night life style. Many people are interested mainly in four clubs because of the money involved, networking and experience. Others applied to different clubs for resume points. There are some societies who are not that much prominent in college, but people feel their presence on special occasions. The club selection gives a lot of confidence every aspect of life in college activities.

Marks. Haahh. It is the thing that any student wants to get as much as possible. The bell curve seems deciding many students’ future and fortune. Even a half mark can make a big difference. So rat race for marks. Nobody wants to be on left side of the bell, but someone has to be on left side.  Mostly, the position on bell curve decides the grade value. What happens to student is on left side of Bell, even after he studies hard and gets good marks and all other get more than him? Appu has been worrying about it. But some how he has felt that he won’t be last. He has heard that professor will take care and don’t give the worst grade if sufficient effort is put by student. How soothing it is! There is life beyond marks and grades!

Many subjects are just mesmerizing. Though subjects look only of common sense and too common place at the starting of the course, over a period of time Appu falls in love with some subjects. Some are really boring, he decides never to touch those subjects. The fate is different and Appu is working now on some of the subjects he never wants to study again. The work experience, plays really good hand at understanding the subjects and also fetch good marks. Though it seems improper to compare students on one common examination who are having different experiences, it is the reality. Life puts examination and then teaches lesson. The fellow students and professors are teaching life to Appu.

Placements. The fruit of hard work , intelligence and luck. Many students are well aware of the rules of the placement game except some like Appu. The summer placements are ladders for great jobs ahead and act as stepping-stones for bright future. Lot of material and gyan by senior along with enthusiasm and anxiety to perform push the students’ blood pressure high as the time of placements is approaching. Preparation of one page resume is the utmost important and tedious task in entire placement process. Once the placements are over, everyone comes to normal stage of relaxed life.

Networking i.e. socializing is one of the important things anyone can get at MBA college. Given the equal talent and credential  for people, networking paves the way for success. It seems MBA colleges  have better understood this point. So from starting on wards, students try to network with maximum number students, professors, alumni etc. Appu is surprised to know  that many of his batch mates whom he doesn’t know are sending Facebook friend’s request. Appu soon learns the importance and he too starts sending his requests!

With all the knowledge Appu has received in a year, he is too excited to face the 2nd year. He is hoping life will be more exciting as a sophomore than as a fresher.

Part 5 : Marathon Begins !

The quiet days are over their due and the marathon is about to begin. The processes for registration, hostel accommodation were quite student & parent friendly. The biggest burden Appu faced, the educational loan from one of the premium banks, become simple task of 15mins without collateral support. Appu was busy with adjusting with new circumstances where he need to spend his two invaluable years of experience. The official welcome was grand and cherishing.

Next day started the orientation program for one week gave Appu and his new batch mates the feel of two years in campus. Hardly few hours (approximately 4 hours) were left for sleeping in a day. The learning from interaction and practical exposure made Appu to feel that he was staying in campus for 7 weeks if not exaggerated 7 months. There were many innovative ways of learning like solving practical puzzle, learning through games, visiting NGOs and hearing series of lectures about ethics and college expectations. The orientation program was over with big party before the actual classes started.

The academic work is started and Appu is busy in coping up with classes. Apart from academics, there are the lot of options for participation in huge number of clubs and sports etc. It looks like 24 hours is not sufficient. Let us see how Appu is going to proceed.

Part 4 : Lull before the storm

Once all the difficult stumbling blocks which were in the form of battles of CAT examination, GD & PIs  are over, only small clashes are left which have to be fought with self. Appu also felt some other important aspects of common sense are very important as he was victim for some of them like sending application before deadline, reaching venue before time and having all the documents ready in proper format in correct time etc.  Appu was startled to hear that one his batch-mates in the CAT training institute lost her chance to attend interview with top IIM because she was 10 minutes late for the process. Missing the deadline for sending application for battle-2 didn’t hurt him much because he had many options, but this batch-mate had only couple of battles!

The first clash is to select the college suitable to him among his archived ones. This is a tough task because if anyone misses the opportunity, he will regret the choice through out his life. Here comes the allies in the clash in the form of introspection, self evaluation, own interests like specialization, city choice, friends advice who made into IIM and as well as others. Ultimately, one has to decide with his own discretion. Even though all the allies are available at his disposal it took two weeks for Appu to decide.

The second clash is as with the case of many people, about financing for education. Thanks to fame of IIMs, Banks themselves are coming forward to offer educational loans for all candidates with no collateral (there is always some security bank requires). Appu is waiting for approval from selected Bank and financial aid from institute itself. In fact in the workshop for GD & PI preparation in CAT training institute, one famous bank’s representative gave presentation about the educational loan facilities they are offering IIM students.

Once person comes to B-school, there required lot of socializing ! It started straight away with Google groups and Facebook platforms where new joinies (PGP1s) were given gyan by immediate seniors(PGP2s) and information is share among PGP1s. This platform helped newbies from filling application form to new laptop deals. The initiative taken by PGP2s was awesome in conducting Freshers’ meet in different cities and it cleared many doubts in Appu’s mind.

Only few days are remaining before joining college, the days are heavy with lot of expectations and future challenges. The formalities with office are going on its own way with Appu. He planned to meet his close companions, friends, mentors and family members in very short time. Any way Appu has to manage the things in short time going to be manager somewhere after couple of years. He won’t be  pure techie any more. Appu is spending time in Lull before storm of MBA course work at IIM.

Part 3 : Enter the Dragon

The wild-goose chase is about to start. Appu is preparing for the battle of final frontiers in MBA admission process. He bought a formal suit the evening before one day of the start of first battle.

Battle -1:

He didn’t know how to put a knot for Tie and he was running here and there to to put knot even before  half an hour of  the scheduled GD & PI process. Some how or other he reached in last-minute to the venue with tie is proper shape and just got relief that program not yet started.

The GD the topic was case study about Drug addiction and its effects. Appu could able to speak three times in the discussion. But he observed none of patcipants except one guy is trying to come to conclusion and everyone is busy trying to come up with new points of their opinion.Over all , Appu’s participation in the discussion was decent and healthy.

In the interview, there were three personalities : one young guy , one middle-aged person and one elder professor like personality. The welcome was warm and pleasantries were exchanged as a formality. The professor asked some questions about the subjects about electricity the subject which seems he is interested. Nobody asked Appu about his work experience aside! The young chap and middle-aged person started grilling Appu on some non technical  behavioral  questions and some Engineering subjects related to Management. One particular question that stumped Appu is what will he do to save either of his mother or wife when they are in difficulty ? God only knows whether they were satisfied or not, but Appu’s confidence was boosted after whole process.

Battle -2:

It was pathetic experience. Appu failed to submit the application form before deadline as he was confused about deadline to say more specifically he goofed up his good prospects.

Battle -3:

Here the last minute venue finding made life difficult initially for Appu. The GD was OK and nothing much to speak about. Interview went just asking basic stuff, work experience and its utility in Management. Over all the the experience was good.

Battle -4:

The same venue same as in the case of Battle -3 and the GD went smooth. The tough part was PI which forced Appu to accept that he didn’t give due consideration before preparing for Management. Interviewers asked difficult questions about return on investment due to gap of two years for MBA after considerable work experience. Except these difficult questions over all the battle went in right direction.

Battle -5:

Once again the venue is same. This had an Writing Analysis and Group discussion on the same topic ” Tattoos and Culture”. Appu made decent essay and spoke three times in the discussion. At the end of the discussion, every one was asked to summarize the discussion. Hearing what others are saying is also very important !

The interview was really cool. Just it went almost like dream interview contrary to the speculation of his friend who is studying at that college. Appu explained about his business ideas and failures of its implementation etc. He was stumbled at the question why he didn’t try for incubation facilities from his engineering college ? He accepted his lack of research in that direction. Some times it better to accept our shortcomings or mistakes ! Over all it was the best interview he had ever given in his life.

Battle -6:

The venue is the college itself. Everything is exceptional about the environment and culture there. No Group discussion , only writing analysis was there and topic was again one of his favorites – Scientific mindedness and faith don’t go hand in hand. The essay was one of the best essays Appu wrote in his life until then. He thought it is going to dream encounter in battle.

But everything became topsy turvy in the interview session with three faculty members. First person in course of interview was pulling Appu’s leg and stopping himself before exceeding certain threshold. The second person was having big smile through out the interview asking questions and helping to get out the answers. The third person who was very serious in checking certificates and in between giving stern glances and cutting the unreasonable answers Appu made. To undergo interview with him will be nightmare for anyone. After interview Appu felt that their behavior might be their strategy to select their students. The interview covered many topics – Corruption, marketing, finance,  entrepreneurship, general topics. After interview Appu felt this battle is lost and no way of entering into this college as MBA student.

Battle -7:

The same venue as last to last battle. Appu was more relaxed that got spoiled when he learnt that he didn’t get all the certificate photocopies.It was early morning no photocopying shops not opened. After mustering courage Appu told the checking authority about the issue. He felt insulted when that person told him that Appu need to do this at least before interview. Some how, he didn’t speak any thing and politely apologized. He and some others similar to Appu were given time get the photocopies.

The topic for Writing Analysis was again his favorite topic about philosophy and gave his best in content and moderate in grammar. To his surprise Appu found the same person whom he thought of speaking seriously was in interview panel. Thank god he didn’t speak anything and tolerance paid for him! The interviewers asked some general knowledge question, work experience question and made fun of Appu when ever they got chance. There were some mathematical questions, logical questions etc. Finally Appu understood the interview what he underwent is stress interview! He felt good about keeping his smile and tolerance. Over all the battle is very good.

During the battles with dragon, Appu had one more war going at his work place with project of stiff deadlines. He felt very grateful to his colleague friend who shielded Appu so that he can face the above battles successfully. After all the battles are over, Appu jumped into the war where he was shielded for sometime. In the course of time, Appu totally forgot about the results of battles he faced.One day in the mid of the project meeting Appu got message “IIM results are released”. He couldn’t leave the meeting as Appu was the speaker and couldn’t check the results in his laptop which is connected to projector where everyone is staring. Here also there is waiting about one hour ! what a destiny !

As expected Battle -6 is lost and Battle -5 is won. Results for other battles are going to be released in couple of days. It doesn’t matter for Appu as he decided to join in colleges though Battle-5 or Battle -6. He was somewhat disappointed of not winning Battle -6. But to his surprise, one day after results announced he got mail from college congratulating him in Battle – 6. He couldn’t believe his eyes  and checked the results once again in web site by entering mail id and CAT registration number. It is saying sorry you are not selected. When he checked deeply, he realized that in the registration number instead of entering capital letter ‘SR’, he is entering small letters. After entering proper SR number, the web site too congratulated him for winning the Battle -6. There are no bounds for his happiness as one day  pain due to feeling of failure made him to relish success better !

Part 2: The Sprint about to start !

The CAT results and subsequent promotion to next level process brought Appu into the sprint arena of ambition for MBA degree from premier Institutes. The days seem to be tough as uphill task is very steep with active and energetic competitors in sprint arena. He couldn’t savor the success of cracking CAT for little time as one more hurdle is awaiting him.

The first and best thing he did was that he contacted his coaching institute’s manager to know what next ? This guy is damn good in understanding Appu’s concerns and explained what he need to do for the second leap. He gave the time table sheet and details about the seminars and workshops that the institute is going to conduct viz Group Discussion (GD), Personal Interview(PI) and  Writing Assessment (WA). Even though all were equally frightening to Appu, the Group discussion created the terror in his heart. Apart from these frightening trio, there is one more monster in the form of Statement of Purpose (SOP) and other documents that need to filled to each and every college. Appu was  further told to give a hard push for this preparation keeping GMAT preparation aside. If he gets IIM through CAT it is very good or else it will give good exposure which will be useful for GMAT preparation or for that matter it will be useful in life.

The first day class in second phase of preparation was about Group Discussion and its participation.Even though there were many new faces, some look they are familiar. The faculty was at his best in explaining the topics. Appu’s mind was bombarded with so many tips and tricks of GD- advantages & disadvantages of initiating the topics and  concluding the topics. Many more tips like the nuances and structure to be followed, tactfully dealing with seemingly irritating irrational people, hearing about what other people are taking etc were taught. Now the scariest part is awaiting for its turn which is mock group discussion. Appu had difficulty in putting forward his arguments – by the time he came up with some points already other people spoke about it, some times people neglected his points, some times he didn’t get (understand) pause to pick the topic from others etc. After participating in GD on Appu’s favorite topic where he failed miserably, he understood the mode in which he had to be for participation in GD. The talk should be balanced and only arguments before conclusion have to be discussed. Even though topic is familiar, simply presenting the conclusion without arguments on both sides make person feel like narrow minded.

The second level of grilling started with ‘Achieiver’s workshop’ which is a two day program filled with Mock group discussions, mock interviews and general inputs about common subject matters that every graduate expected to be aware of. Appu had almost six GDs with many enthusiastic prospective achievers  along with achievers as evaluators. In the course of workshop he went through normal PI and later through stressful unstructured PI. The systematic point by point evaluation and feedback showed Appu that there is lot of homework need to be done to achieve his distant ambitious goal. The general awareness sessions about logical thinking, general knowledge and economics though seemed bit heavy, he had no option except listening as people speaking about them are achievers! The workshop even though not boosted the confidence in fact it de-motivated,  but showed the reality his standing with respect to his dream.

The concern which was not addressed sufficiently in the second phase was his ability to write grammatically decent correct sentences in cohesive manner to make a decent essay. The time is not sufficient and appropriate to learn all required exercises. But it is better late than never. One wonderful idea came to him at that time was to start a blog and practice writing. Writing blog even though took lot of time, but it structured his thought process and eventually that practice made him comfortable in writing decent essays.

The tedious process of submitting application for colleges was the next hurdle in his sprint. The SOP took sufficient percentage of groundwork in the application fill-up as it captures whole purpose of doing MBA. As usual since it was an essay, it seemed extremely impossible task to write along with lot of self introspection. He was suggested by his friends better to get it written by some professional as it will improve the possibility of impressing the faculty at college. Appu thought it will be better to brain storm to put his thoughts and this process will make him understand what he wants and what he is. The SOP with his original thoughts after suggestions from colleagues, friends and coaching institute become decent. After brain storming for SOP, every other aspect looked Lilliput.

Time traveled very fast in the second phase and only couple of days were left before Appu for his GD (WA) & PI. He just arranged all the required documents, certificates in proper format to face the battle.

Part I: Judgement day !!!

At midnight when the tick of wall clock showing 12:00, Appu who was doing as usual office work came to into external reality  all of a sudden. Some strange kind of anxiety filled expectation filled fringes of his mind. He checked for his mobile  and some documents which seemed very important at that point of time. In his hurry to find out those in next room where his room-mate was sleeping in sound , he didn’t realize the disturbance he created to him. At last after spending considerable time, he found the Mobile and Admit card of his CAT registration form. He just entered his mail id and CAT reg Number in mobile with shaking hands to know the results. It was more paining to wait in anxiety than utter failure was his thought at that moment while waiting for result. When not only all other room mates, bu also whole city was busy with their dreams, Appu started to reflect upon his journey so far waiting for his result.

As usual it was the dilemma to decide whether to join in CAT coaching classes or if at all he has to join then next question is  ‘where’ ? After little bit of deliberation, inquiry from friends and internet search with google(Guru), only two options seemed plausible The two institutes near by his staying. There was no further confusion to choose an Institute. He was not satisfied with response bout timings of classes from Institute A and he was bit taken back by their attitude of pushing student to enroll as early as possible. Later he realized that it was the same push existing everywhere in all institutes. Anyway he decided not to join any institute and wanted to prepare for CAT with their last year’s material from his friend. Meanwhile , when he was searching for CAT info, Guru gave many valuable inputs about educational sites, free CAT material and Test plans. As per Guru’s advice, he went to Institute B for to write mock test series. As pushy as the institutes are, here the lady receptionist convinced him to join CAT  and GMAT training program. Appu finally landed into institute B as if driven by some force.

Nothing was downloaded at 1:00am and there were no traces of downloading as the web page just stood before his anxiety filled eyes like stone statue standing for eons. He hesitantly called  his former batch-mate in college who was studying  in IIMA  to know the results. To Appu’s surprise his friend was busy with assignments. His friend also checked the site, but he was unsuccessful and Appu was told that he would call him to tell the results as site is taking enormous time. Appu again started his wait and went back into his flash back.

That was the first introductory class on Sunday in Institute B. Appu was really impressed by  the presentation of  a big guy who was former student of IIMA and thought the classes are going to be worth of his money. He was particularly impressed by the idea of CAT approach to crack CAT test. That CAT approach convinced him, if he follow exactly the same approach, CAT ought be cracked. Little did he know at that juncture that it was difficult for him to cope with the CAT classes on weekends, Mock Tests that are there now and then, so many take home assignments,  Institute’s online resources and community, and finally online communities. He stood aghast at the idea of taking mock tests from multiple institutes and old papers when he couldn’t find time to prepare and attempt mock tests of institute due to hectic work schedule at office. When ever he didn’t practice, his scores in Mock Tests were going down and so much syllabus was left to complete or cram. He decided to stop giving all the mock Tests and prepare fully for the exam. ‘The day’ was fast approaching to decide the destiny of couple of lacks of students like Appu.

Disturbing his thinking, Appu’s mobile ranged and his heart throbbed when he saw the call from his IIMA friend. With trembling hands and shivering voice he answered the call and was relieved to know that he too couldn’t get the result. Appu was further told he had to wait till 10:00am! It was already 2:30am and there  no option left except going to bed. He couldn’t get nap easily as his mind was busy with thoughts of CAT results and gradually went into his dreams.

When Appu felt the holidays before his exam was killing him literally, he went to his home town to get relaxed and  came back just one day before ‘The day’. He set out to his exam center which is about 20KM on a chilly drizzling day’s morning. All the formalities were done casually but the exam tension was tough. He was ultra careful in the final exam for marking answer as negative markings can decide his future unlike in mock tests. The exam was the best test he had given for CAT, but felt many things could have improved  had he prepared little more and exam was not as difficult as it was hyped. He felt last few day’s preparation could be much helpful!

In the morning when he got up from the bed, the clock was ticking at 7:15am and same expectation which didn’t haunt much in sleep all of a sudden attacked him. He was relieved from that anxiety when he could see the exam result from his room-mate’s mobile. After checking the result, He felt he could have prepared well in last few days before exam and that might have improved his score. Anyway he had to check individual IIM sites for his next round filtering. His fingers were crossed until he get the calls from IIMs.