Even before starting our CAT journey, many of us get worried if we don’t have a perfect profile – an above-average academic score, no gap in education, a decent work experience, and some outstanding achievement in some extra-curricular activity.
And then, I found a guy who did not have an above-average academics, completed his 4-year B.tech in 6 years, came through distasteful remarks because of his background, and struggled for a job. He eventually got a good job but that didn’t satisfy him for long. The hunger within him galvanized him to try for a second attempt at CAT even when he scored an abysmally low score of 30 percentile in his first attempt. I feel his story is less about the academic background and more about courage and determination. His story is more about the mental strength that we all possess, but fail to realize.
When I heard about Rohit’s story for the first time, all I felt was goosebumps. I was very much inspired by his determination and never-say-die attitude. I am in awe of him because not many of us dare to reveal our vulnerability. He is mentally tough yet one happy-go-lucky guy who cherishes his life every day. His positivity, helping nature, and an ever-smiling face are some reasons why everyone on campus loves him.
Of late, many CAT aspirants have asked me questions about their profile, and I feel they are way too worried because they feel it is not a perfect one. So even before starting their preparation, they give up mentally. So, I requested Rohit to share his story on “The CAT Talk.” And as usual, he promptly came forward to help without thinking twice about anything. I feel this story could inspire many because it is less about the talent and more about the intent. And that is what is more important in the CAT journey.
So, let’s listen to Rohit’s story in his own words.
Let me start with a little introduction about myself. I did my schooling from Sainik School, Kazhakootam, Kerala, which is a boarding school. I did my graduation from NIT Calicut in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
Sainik School is known to make its students future-ready to join the armed forces. So by default, my aim initially was to join the forces. But God had other plans. I did not clear the NDA exam, and after my 12th, I didn’t have a backup plan.
My parents once told me, “Son, we don’t have a doctor in our family.” After listening to these words, my next aim was to crack the MBBS exam. I failed miserably in that exam also. Finally, I managed to secure a seat in NIT Calicut through AIEEE. I thought it would be a cakewalk from there on, but it took me six years to complete a four-year degree.
Some of the new people whom I meet usually ask why six years. I would say the main reason is my background. Back in school days, I was an average student scoring in the 70s, and my school focussed on the overall development of the students. So if you were the topper or the best cricket player, you would get the same respect. Only after coming to college, I realized how heavily our system is inclined towards academics.
At NIT Calicut, the constant distasteful comments from people around would pull me down. They might have passed those comments jokingly, but somewhere it did hit me. By the time I realized these things shouldn’t hinder me, it was too late. I already had many backlogs. And to be honest, when you take six years to complete your B. tech, it does take a toll on your confidence and mental strength.
In 2013, when I was in my fourth year, I wrote CAT for the first time and scored 30 percentile. I felt ashamed of myself and decided never to write CAT again. Then I tried SSC CGL exam prep for a while. That also didn’t go as per the plans.
Finally, in 2015 December, I was sitting in my college canteen and speaking to this man ‘Vijayettan’ as he is fondly called by the alums of my college. He had been running our college canteen for more than 50 years. He was a great listener and always had time for students like me. We used to discuss everything from cinema to life.
That day, seeing me worried, he asked me what the problem was. I told him that all my friends were either working or doing their higher studies, and I was still sitting there in college, not knowing what future holds for me. He immediately took out his phone, called a person, and said, “Da this guy has studied Electrical Engineering. See if you can recruit him to your company.”
Initially, I thought he just joked, but within a few hours, I received a call from Suvire Electric Pvt. Ltd. asking me to come for an interview in Chennai. The alumni network indeed works wonders. Vijayettan had a friend from the 1979 batch pass out Mr. K Vijayaraj (MD of Suvire Electric Pvt Ltd). That’s when I understood the power of relationships.
After working for almost 1.5 years, I got a government job in 2017 in Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, through a written exam. I thought my life was set. I had a safe job, my engagement with the girl I love was about to happen, and everything was going right. But somewhere deep down, I was not happy with what I was doing. I didn’t know what to do. I had no motivation to work. To be frank, working in a Naval environment as Junior Engineer with superiors being either your juniors or batch mates from Sainik School did hurt my ego.
After contemplating for a few days, I decided to try for CAT for the one last time. So, while working in Mumbai, I started preparing for CAT. Life in Mumbai is truly hectic. I used to start at around 6.30 in the morning and would be back by around 8.30 PM. Then for around two hours, I used to solve questions.
In my preparation, I mainly focussed on solving previous year question papers and mock papers. I used 2IIM, a mobile app, as well as the website for my preparation. Mr. Rajesh, who is the founder, was really helpful. 2IIM would send me personal emails to keep me motivated. Whenever I used to travel in Mumbai local, I would brush up my Verbal with the help of the app.
On weekends, I used to take two mock tests. In my opinion, mocks analysis is more important than the mock tests. I secured 86 percentile in CAT 2018 and got calls from IIM Lucknow (PGPSM), IIM Shillong, and all new IIMs. I converted all IIMs except IIM Shillong. Finally, I secured admission in IIM Trichy and currently, I am about to start my second year of MBA.
People often ask me if I did not have any apprehensions in my mind before starting the CAT preparation. To be very honest, this journey was not that easy for me. I had many apprehensions before starting this journey because of my profile. But then, my life partner, whom I had met in 2009 and got married in 2017, inspired me by her pep-talks. She has been a constant companion throughout my journey. Not only did she inspire me, but she also worked hard and converted IIM Kozhikode in 2018. She has just completed her MBA now. And I earnestly owe a great deal of my success to her.
Advice to the CAT aspirants:
You must be very clear about why you are going to pursue an MBA, then everything will fall into place. What kept me going throughout my CAT journey was persistence and not settling for small wins. There will be times when you feel hopeless and lost, but turning negative things to positive is the key.
Thank you so much, Rohit, for sharing such an inspirational CAT journey with us. I thank you on behalf of all the CAT aspirants who look for such real-life inspirational stories.
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