Rakesh Kumar, a dynamic personality, cool head and fun-loving dude is how he could be described. He completed his PGDM from IIM-Ahmedabad. He is a 2010 passout of Computer Science and Engineering branch from VSSUT, Burla. He holds the unique distinction of being able to pass in the Golden Jubilee batch of both VSSUT and IIM-Ahmedabad.
Q1. What are you doing these days?
Ans: Currently working at Icreon Tech, New York, USA as Engagement Manager after completing my graduation from IIM, Ahmedabad (2013-15). Prior to this I have worked with Infosys Limited for 34 months (2010-13). Like you all I am also equally proud to be a part of UCE Burla (2006-10 CSE).
Q2. What motivated you to go for an MBA?
Ans: There were ample incidences which never let me down while aspiring to be a management student. There are 2 key people who gave a direction to my life. Of course there are lots of names behind my journey and I have equal gratitude for all of them-
- Jyoti Prakash Mishra (UCE + IIM-A): When I was in 2nd year, he once came to the campus to give a speech on why you should prepare for higher education and how you should approach. I was one in the crowd to see how an IIM-A student look like! Believe me that prior to this I only knew people from IIM-A like Chetan Bhagat (by reading 5point some1) and Harsha Bhogle (from ESPN).
- Abinash Subudhi (UCE + IIM-K): Always guided me throughout my stay at UCE and during my preparation for CAT. We tried to crack CAT together in final year but failed miserably. Later he joined IIM-K in 2012 and that moment was inspiring enough to make me feel that getting into IIM for a student from UCE is achievable.
One thing I want to clear that I never hated my work at Infosys; neither had I felt that getting a degree from a b-school will push me up in the corporate ladder. I did it only because of my eagerness to explore more opportunities in life.
Q3. Did you take coaching? Do you think coaching is necessary for acing CAT?
Ans. Yes. I joined T.I.M.E. institute for regular classes (duration of 6 months) and Career launcher for the separate test series. Both located at Bhubaneswar. I personally do not think that coaching is mandatory to clear the CAT exam. However, it gives you a flow for sure.
Q4. How did you prepare for CAT while doing job at Infosys? How did you manage your time?
Ans: Even though I joined T.I.M.E., I couldn’t manage attending classes daily as I was a full time employee at Infosys. I guess I might have attended less than 20 classes in 6 months. However, I never missed a test series from T.I.M.E. and Career Launcher. In addition to this I used to solve the questions from the T.I.M.E. materials (20 questions /day is a decent number). At Infosys my day used to start at 2pm and end around 11pm (2nd shift). The morning hours were helpful for my preparation.
Q5. What were your weak areas and how did you tackle them?
Ans: ENGLISH! I know many of you might also be having similar bottleneck. Read English newspapers daily. I used to read The Hindu (hardcopy) in the morning and e-newspaper in the evening at office (when I do not have any work). Do not try to mug up the words from the clue cards given by coaching centers. While reading newspapers you will get exposure to millions of new words daily. And reading the same article again will give you a recap.
After you read an article try to write it up in your own words. Initially take your time. But gradually make it time bound like 20/10/5 min. This will improve your written ability. Ask your friends to review it if possible.
Q6. What was your CAT %tile?
Ans. Setting a target is not my intension here. Believe me CAT score is only a component of your evaluation. Curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular activities along with your work-ex carry decent points. And this evaluation criterion gets changed each year. Try to make things balanced. So if I say 99%tile is a good CAT score that doesn’t ensure your admission in top b-schools. I have seen students having 99.9%tile during interviews but not making it to IIM-A.
Q7. How did you prepare for the WAT/PI round?
Ans. I joined Toastmasters club in Infosys which helped me in preparing extempore. T.I.M.E.’s GD and interview sessions were really good. Apart from that I learned a lot of things by doing mistakes. I remember my IIM Shillong and Kozhikode interviews were really pathetic. I totally screwed them. In both the cases the interviewers literally raped me. (I was begging, “Bhai maaf kar de, nei kar ni MBA”).
So never give up…learn from your mistakes, keep faith in yourself and stand up again to fight. Not all days are the same!
Q8. How important is one’s profile in order to get an admit from a top B-School in India? How can a student build his/her profile if he/she doesn’t have any work experience?
Ans: Profile is very important for the top b-school selections like IIM A, B and C. Profile doesn’t mean work-ex only. It’s the reflection of your life so far. Make sure to have proofs of everything you are planning to mention/tell in the interview. One suggestion I can give, try to associate with some NGOs or non-profit organizations in your free time. It really adds value and makes a good impression of yours.
Q9. How was your life at IIM A?
Ans. ‘A’ stands for Awesomeness. I can’t express my life at IIM-A in words. If you join IIM-A then make sure that you are ready for night outs, surprise quizzes, 100% attendance, cold calls by professors in classes, no food and breathing space. But believe me for this experience you will die for. One the other hand, it’s not true that students indulge with studies all the time. I enjoyed lot of parties, participated in competitions and won real money (Big amounts), played lot of games in campus, went to Europe on exchange trip etc. Gujarat is a dry state but you will get no trouble inside the campus. One thing is for sure….if you sleep at IIM Ahmedabad then it’s your own loss.
Q10. What memories of VSSUT, Burla do you cherish?
Ans: Honestly, there can’t be one single answer to this question. Burla taught me a lot in my life. It was the first time ever staying in hostel. My 1st year was full of shit. Rather shit-max. I always regret that I spoiled my 1st year reading too much in the room and scoring nothing. I remember I used to walk on the corridors of South Hostel with a book in my hand and mugging down everything so that I can vomit in the exam. Gradually I realized these things don’t matter here. This true knowledge made my remaining 3 years at Burla a real treasure of my life. These 3 years transformed my life entirely and made me more social, expressive and truthful to others. This is simply a place for making friends for lifetime and this made me cry on my last day at UCE.
Q11. What would be your advice to the students of VSSUT,Burla who are preparing for CAT and GMAT?
Ans: Each year thousands of students like you qualify for premier institutes for higher studies. CAT/GMAT is a very small thing in life. So I would rather advice you something which I learned from my life, which is beyond clearing an exam.
- Never give up in your life! Keep fighting till you are alive. If you don’t know how to win, that’s absolutely fine. Accept failure with a smiling face. Learn from mistakes and stand up to fight again. A day will come for sure when you will get your goal. Nobody in the world is a born winner. EARN it with dignity.
- Keep yourself far from Ego. Respect other’s knowledge. From everyone there is something to learn. Believe me without strong friendship I couldn’t have achieved anything.
- Each day help at least someone. No matter in which way. But try it; you will get a peaceful sleep at night.
- Power of people is more than power of money. I know, tomorrow each of you are going to earn good amount money. But never let the money overtake you. Try to network each and every step of yours. Do not leave your friends or parents behind.
- Return it back to the society. If you feel that others have helped you in your success then make yourself available for others.
Keep in touch guys. I never before shared so many things with anyone so far. Stay connected with me in LinkedIn/Gmail. Let’s meet at UCE someday soon. Till then have fun.