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Expert Suggestions on Preparation for Computer Based CAT-09

Two Years and A Lifetime!!!
- by Shivanku Misra *

I clearly remember that it was the month of March when the last few B-schools that were affiliated to CAT were coming out with the shortlist of the candidates selected for studying at their campuses. I had converted all the calls till that time and now it was the time to see the results of the one and only IIM-A. To my disappointment, my first rejection came my way; I was wait-listed for an institute where all those who know me wanted me to be. As expected, the wait-list never moved so as to accommodate me. Then came the result of an A-category institute as we knew in TIME, and that was IMI-Delhi. I was very glad to have made it in the first list itself.  

I did study with sincere efforts while slogging for Physics and Chemistry in my graduation final year. There was great deal of pressure on me as I had been consistently in top three ranked students at my university for the previous two years. The investment for CAT was also just too much for me to show any heedlessness on that front. Then came the D-day that was 20th November 2005. All my teachers and friends had advised me to get a real good sleep before CAT, but amusingly, that was one rare night in my life (before I came to IMI) that I couldn't sleep even with all the extended efforts.

I came out of the examination hall, with an anxious self, who didn't know what the result was going to be. After carefully browsing all the solution keys, I estimated an 85-90%ile, and that was the best I expected out of myself. I don't believe in dropping a year or two, as I never did that, and so I settled for any decent B-school in India. With INR 10,000 already invested in various application forms, there were a few more forms that I thought I should fill. IMI-Delhi and ASB-Coimbatore were a few of them. I gave some other exams like XAT, SNAP and IRMA, out of which, I finally converted IRMA, but never joined there.

The results came and my entire day was soaked in tears, not because I had a very low CAT percentile but because I didn't get any percentile... My score-card never opened until I changed my date of birth as suggested by my coaching teacher. With a decent CAT Score (read much more than what I expected), I was elated and on top of the world. Name a college that I filled the form for, and I had a call from that B-school. However, the height of happiness was when I got a call from the IIM-A, and this preceded a series of seminars, few special events, and yes, even my name being published in the newspapers. I was very excited as I became a counsellor for many of my friends who appeared for a management entrance test in 2005-06.

Meanwhile, I was busy networking. There were seniors, or should I say the super seniors, from IMI who became my good friends, thanks to a management student forum and my networking skills. Must say, never expected students from a top business school to be so friendly. Then there I was at the same institute, with all the zeal and excitement, I came to attend the preparatory courses. Already acquainted with more than half of the batch, IMI never seemed a strange place for me. I became famous as a diehard fan of this institute across the forums and institutes, and I liked the 'attention'. 

I met some friends whom I already knew online. Made a few friends and with all the energy levels gave the 'intro' sessions to the seniors (also called as Personality Development sessions... aka IMI style of ragging) that were held at the amphitheatre sharp at 23:00 hours daily. The college has a very compact yet modernised campus, but the USP is the more than 300 acres of forest called as 'Sanjay Van' just by the side of the institute. We started going for jogging in the evenings, then badminton matches followed by a dinner, then 'intro' sessions. Only post-midnight was the time for studies. I met old and, trust me, really old folk here. My room partner was about 12 years elder to me, and all those I knew in the college (which was more than 90% people) were elder to me.

I started making very good friends with people who were here from all over the country. My best friend came from Kerala and he just couldn't stop praising his motherland. Must confess, that I never met a more intelligent, helpful and arrogant person like him. Another of my good friend was from Madhya Pradesh. She had been married for 7 years and came after a work experience of 3 years. A more mature and caring friend I am yet to see in my life. However, the nearest to me (of course in terms of physical distance) was my 'capitalist' neighbour who came from the traditional business family of India, the marwaris. If you were to believe him then 'there is no free lunch' and there should be no help extended to the poorer classes of our society. He was a source of amusement to us while an extreme of 'irritability' personified to many others.

There were subjects I really loved, few of them being Organizational Behaviour, MSM (Mathematics & Statistics for Management), while a few like Accounting were never my cup of tea. As already told by my seniors, this life of two years is not complete only with books and notes, and one should live every moment of this. I started brewing my B-school life by winning the Cultural Secretary Association elections. But there was much more that I wanted to do. To an institute that did not believed much in the media exposure, there was a need for some action. It was very evident by what the professors and the industry said - IMI's loss had been the gain of a Gurgaon-based business school, as that particular institute was continuously into an aggressive media planning. Hence, I founded what is known as 'Interface' or the Media Cell of IMI.

With all my initial efforts towards increasing the awareness about IMI, I was all set to work even harder toward both the offices that I held when a sweet surprise my way. The Director of the institute, Prof. C. S. Venkataratnam, gifted me a book as a token of appreciation towards what I did for the college immediately after my joining. Thus began my journey, as I started being in touch with various media people around, as well as the cultural secretaries from all the top business schools of India.  

I guess it was not enough; maybe that's why I started working on a live project with a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India, the National Housing Bank. With the highly increased levels of pressure, my life became even more interesting. Every other month we had a grand party, of which I was a part as an organizing member. With all the people around entrusting me with onuses of support of varied levels, I was an important person in IMI; at least that's what I always felt.

Then started the summer placement season and I was placed with a company with which any marketing student would be interested to be associated. Asian Paints Limited picked me up as the only summer intern from IMI. I wanted to make an impression over the company so that they do not feel that students from our institute are in any way inferior from any other top business schools of India. From searching an accommodation in Pune to commuting to both the company godowns on a regular basis, I gradually made friends with the people from all walks of life. Finally, all my hard efforts bore the fruits; I received a pre-placement offer from Asian Paints Limited, accepting which I became the first student to be placed at IMI from my batch.

Post-placement, life lost the pace. However, to add up to the 'comfort' factor, nearly all my projects started moving around the same company and that was Asian Paints. It was amusing when one of the batch-mates asked me the number of projects I did with Asian Paints. I was placed almost four months before the season started, hence, I got what I loved the most, the 'limelight'. However, as the final placements happened, there were more smiles on the faces and I got to hear "IMI Rocks..." slogans from souls that never imagined IMI as a top B-school, and always cursed their joining this institute. Kudos to our Placement Committee, all the other major clubs, and yes, to the Media Cell, that everyone will now walk out of IMI with his/her dream offer in pocket. However, there were certain moments I felt quite lonely, as I missed the excitement and adrenalin rushes of the placement days.

I was asked questions if I was regretting the acceptance of the PPO with a meagre sum, while I could have made it to the top companies and could have easily bagged an offer of at least a couple of more lakhs. These situations made me ponder to the core, and out of the frenzy, I did try out my sources to shift to some other company to a better profile and package. Towards the end, I did realize that the offer I received was one of its kind, and using the same properly, I can chart a much better career. I would like to confess that I had a few other offers with slightly more moolah, but then a wiser decision is what I have taken.  

It was a month left towards the end of the two-year-old saga and everyone was turning into a nostalgic soul and trying to spend most of the time with each other. I also was part of a few 'traditional trips'. However, I preferred being as much together with my family as I could, because I was going to start my job a month after my college, and as per the policy of my company, there were a limited number of casual leaves allowed. At 22, my family felt I was too young to start a career, though I felt I was growing at a rapid pace, and there was so much more to do in my life. To make an honest confession, I wanted to be an IAS officer, a forest officer, a Bio Technologist, a Marketing Manager, a Social Entrepreneur, a Movie Director, a Novelist, a Politician, an Ad Maker, a Sales guy and a married well-settled family man, all at the same time. It was really nice the way I planned my life and that is the fun of life - to live in as many fantasies as possible for the two years at the B-school. I still remember how we commented over Mercedes S-Class and BMW 700 series, and wanted to own a Bentley, to finally talking about a Santro i-10 as our first car...

I lived a complete life for two years. I enjoyed many moments, I didn't enjoy as much many other moments, and I hated certain moments. For a turning point in my life is what I had at IMI; two years and a lifetime... Ahead!!!


* Contributed by -
Shivanku Misra (Campus Associate), is the final year student of PGP 2006-08 Programme at International Management Institute, New Delhi. He has been the Cultural Secretary & President of the Media Cell at IMI.

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