How I got into IIM Ranchi with just 79 percentile
Imagine your first day of college. A plethora of things to explore. A cavern of novel experiences. An opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. But there’s also anxiety clinging to your lungs when you are breaching into unfamiliar circumstances; when you can feel the eyes judging you; the fear of what’s to come. Even more so when you have a lower score than your peers, when more people might have fought tooth and nail to get to where you are, with a higher score in their hands; naturally, that’s how I must have felt.
But I was prepared. I was aware of the efforts I had to put, the conviction that I had held, the ambition I strived for, the choices I had to make to get to where I was. I knew arming myself up with my best abilities was the only way to thrive in a sort after institution like IIM Ranchi.
So here I am, ready to take you on a journey down memory lane, to give you the dose of confidence you yearn, to reinstate that with good choices and agility, you make into anywhere you put your mind to.
Let’s get over my background information, shall we? It is how you traditionally start your delicate answer for “Tell me about yourself”. I am from an ordinary middle-class family from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. What I do not say is that I have an extra-ordinary pair of people for parents, both of whom were the first generation graduates of their families. My mother had two post-graduate degrees from IIT Madras and IIT Kharagpur, currently working as Enterprise Agile Coach at Wipro Technologies. My father is a doctorate presently working as a Divisional Engineer in Tamil Nadu State Highways. You might have guessed where I am going with this, talk about parent-pressure. Even if it might sound like a burden, it was more of a mutual expectation I had on myself to make my parents proud of me as much as I was of them. And I was as little as ten years when I set my dream to get into an Indian Institute of Management.
So I decided to adapt my goals to overcome that hindrance and pursued a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. As much as I was interested in that domain, I certainly aimed to use those technical learnings for a management position that I have been planning to take for as long as I can remember. But as you grow up, you stumble upon a lot of opportunities that you were unaware of, that are easier than the path you have chosen for yourself. Though I was preparing for taking up CAT 2019, I had other choices too. The day I got my score, I was optimistic that I would never get any interview calls. And the day I did get some calls was even worse because the truth is I could have done better in CAT, I could have scored more than 79.9 percentile. But no one can keep living on what-ifs. Maybe the reasons were not quite right at the time, but I was more fascinated by the idea, the more I started preparing for it. I had a clear path I set for myself and goals to achieve to get to the target. I started participating in as many contests and competitions as I could get on. I build upon my verbal and written command over the language. I was excelling in classroom learning, and I put my best efforts forward in every educational process. My academic scores have helped me on numerous occasions, be it a call from IIMs or an interview process. My early efforts have helped me cultivate an environment I was comfortable with when I had to deploy them in my favour. But I had an early realisation that these efforts were not enough to secure my seat in IIMs when I took up the IPM exam to get into the integrated program.
I came to face a life-changing decision and mind you I had all my options open and ready. I could work for IBM, where I had been training for almost two months; I could get into a Technical Management course abroad. I also appeared for several government examinations. I could always reappear for CAT the following year. Moreover, I knew there was only a tiny window where I can get into. Finally, I went with why not, it’s the only achievement I ever dreamed of.
And it was time to put my strengths forward and bend them to convert an IIM. I would highly recommend using a journal throughout your life, but especially in times like these. Now I would like to share some tips and mechanics I used to prepare myself for the interviews.
WHY and HOW ladder: You can start with ‘What” you want to achieve and keep questioning yourself “Why” you want it and “How” you will achieve it. Keep building the ladder, and it gives you the clarity of the purpose, actions, and goals you set out to achieve.
Good Narrative: The aim of attending an interview is to showcase your abilities, and for that, you need the other parties to be attentive and interested. And only a good story arc or narrative that you decide you want to narrate your story can do that. It requires the clarity from the Why – How ladder.
Possible Questions: I know anybody preparing for an interview tells you this, but I would suggest before going into structuring the answers, start from the very truthful version. Later, develop on it, to get through the message of the story or the image you are trying to portray.
Practice: A lot of you must have spent horse practising quants for your CAT. But practising and preparing, your behaviour and answers for an interview are more important. Because once you get a call from an IIM, your interview performance can be the deciding factor for your chance at IIM. Practice in front of a mirror, a child, a granny, an instructor, but do the practice.
And a few other essential things that you can learn and modify before an interview are the institute’s individual needs. Check out their weightage for each aspect of your profile and build your answers to align yourself to earn you maximum points. Get to know their courses, clubs, committees and student activities and as much information as you can gather to fit them into your story.
Coming to my strengths and weaknesses, I had excellent academic accomplishment and knowledge. I was more of a writer than a speaker, so WAT played a significant role in my performance. Even though I did not get educational diversity points, I got points for gender diversity and reservation.
And then, yippee I got into the small window of opportunities and into IIM Ranchi. My journey sure doesn’t end here, now that I am where I want to be, I can set out different goals I want to achieve in the future. Many may belittle your achievements in the name of luck and advantages that you might have gained on other grounds, but always remember you, and only you fought with people with the same circumstances. Only you put in your blood, sweat and tears to get to where you are and wear it like armour.
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