Believing is seeing: “Success is a Journey, not a destination” – Amrita Mitra, SPJAIN Class of 2023!

This is the first in the series, “Believing is Seeing 2021”, of success stories of youngsters who believed in themselves, more importantly worked steadfast to realize their immediate goals on their journey of making their vision of life, come true. Here is Amrita Mitra! Read in her own words, the trials and tribulations, the hurrays and hosannas!

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Hello Sreeni Sir,

Hope you are doing well! I wanted to share my CAT journey with you. This is going to be slightly long, so sorry for that, but it still cannot hold all the things that I felt during this process!

Deciding to go for an MBA was one of the best decisions and I’m sure it’ll be a great journey ahead as I’m about to join SPJIMR this year!

First of all, I would like to thank you for all the motivating posts on the channel and though I haven’t interacted with you directly, all the posts helped me stay motivated and updated a lot throughout the interview processes. Thank you for always being there for us! You are an amazing mentor!

Now, to start my story, I’d like to say that I believe in, “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”

I am a NIFT graduate of 2019, always wanted to work in the fashion industry and after graduation I got a job offer in the merchandising department of India’s largest apparel export house, Shahi Exports, the company was of my choice, the role was not as I had imagined. 

I liked dealing with the buyers, completing projects, but after the successful shipment of a few orders, I felt stuck. It seemed as if I was doing the same things again and again and if I did not do something about it, I would remain there for my whole life.

And this was not what I had imagined. I talked to lots of people and found out that a masters would be an easy way for me to diversify my field and gain the kind of knowledge about business I was looking for. 

As I write this, I’m still not sure where I’ll end up, it’s not that I don’t have any plan, the problem is that I have lots, a part of me wants to become a professor, another wants to be a consultant who would help businesses to become sustainable and build a more enlightened business paradigm. Then there is another part of me which wants to study in an IVY League for which I would have to become more mature and build up a very strong profile.

One day I heard the convocation speech of Harvard University by Dr. Nitin Noharia and there was this line he said, ” As MBA graduates, it is your responsibility to restore the faith of society in businesses” and that stayed with me. In the current world, where profit seems to be the priority for businesses, I wanted to be able to balance profit with a purpose. So, one of the reasons for me doing an MBA would be the ability to get a platform, from where I’d be able to steer the change I want to see.

So, returning to the story, as to how I decided to do an MBA; I had a hectic job, almost 9 to 9, so, after coming back I used to research the options of Masters I had, both in India and abroad. I listed all the options and cancelled all the abroad options because a part of me did not want to leave India, leave my parents here and go to some other country. So, the most convenient alternative for me was the degree of MBA, because along with following my passion, I wanted security on monetary terms. It was in January 2020, that I told my parents that I want to do an MBA, and as always, they were supportive.

But even after deciding, I could not start the preparation because of office hours. I knew it would be difficult for me, after 4 years at NIFT, I had lost touch with all the basics of quant and after joining the job, I just couldn’t imagine myself going back to the books.

Before setting out on the preparation, as I had no idea about MBA, I decided to know the exam thoroughly, the B schools, the cut offs, and the selection criteria. I could devote very less time for this, so this took a month for me.

I was in a dilemma as to how I would juggle studies with work; a part of me wanted to quit the job and devote full time to studies, but there was another under-confident part which was extremely scared to lose something I had, for something unpredictable. I had become comfortable with what I already had, and I was extremely scared to take the risk. I was scared of the change, of the failure, of the rejections I would have to face if I failed in this journey.

On 24th March,2020 when there was a Sunday curfew, I read a book, “Who Moved my Cheese” and this book taught me that we should not be scared of change, rather embrace it in order to not become extinct and I decided to start my preparation thinking that the fear I’m building up in my mind is worse than situation that could actually exist.

I’m the happiest when I’m traveling, especially a trip to the mountains would always be my perfect escapade! 🙂

I decided to take coaching and enrolled myself for Career Launcher’s Night Classes, which started in April. But due to my office hours, I couldn’t attend the classes diligently, sometimes I missed the classes, sometimes I dozed off in between the classes. I still remember, our initial classes was on percentages and GP sir would explain things so nicely, but I still couldn’t catch up and when I saw my fellow classmates answer the questions when I couldn’t even understand the basics, it shook my confidence. I remember messaging GP sir that I couldn’t understand the topic and if I should leave it, he only said, just keep practicing, you’ll get a hang of it, these were simple words but were enough for me to try again.

Two months passed and I still couldn’t start my serious preparations, but then, in June, I took leave from the office and came back home. This was when my actual preparation started. I sat down with the basics of Quant and found myself crying every day when I couldn’t solve even the basic sums of arithmetic. I used to love Mathematics in School and now I was in a state where I felt so helpless. There were innumerable times when I felt this was not my cup of tea and I should give up. This is where CL proved to be of extreme help, if it were not for the motivating lectures of Arkss sir, Gejo Sir, GB Sir, Gp Sir, I would have definitely given up. In every lecture, there would be something I picked up and it stayed with me for a long time! 

I connected with other people through the CL telegram group, fellow aspirants and it was motivating and was a healthy competition, this was helpful to drive me. 

So, moving through these sleepless nights, disappointing mock scores, moments of feeling extremely stupid and moments of being scared to death, the D day arrived.  I was in Slot 1 and was extremely clueless about the pattern, I walked in and tried to keep my calm. It was all okay, but as soon as the VARC part came in front of me, I don’t know what happened, I was blank, anxiety set in. VARC was my strong area, it had always pulled up my mock scores, but on this day, I read an entire passage and could not understand a thing and I made the mistake of reading the passage twice, losing a lot of time on a single passage. At that moment, I had already said to myself that my CAT2020 was over because this was the section I was banking on and I had wasted so much time already.

I somehow completed the section and moved to DILR, this was the section I was most scared of, I had a target of 2 sets, and ended up solving 3 sets and 3 more questions, to be honest, I was pretty impressed! 😉 This somehow restored a little bit of belief and I moved to Quant, I could not even realize when the 40 minutes of quant passed, and I could not even remember how many questions I solved. I walked out of the exam hall thinking all of it has been a waste.

I came back home and to divert my mind, I binged on Mirzapur. I scrolled through Telegram and found that the fellow aspirants were as disappointed as me. But disappointment is subjective, I was never among the top scorers in mocks, I did not have a target of 99 percentile, I wanted a decent percentile only which could fetch me at least some decent calls.

I had a habit of underestimating myself since forever and this time it was the same, I never thought I could score even 90 percentile, let alone get into one of the top B schools of the country. Extreme self-esteem issues even after having a good academic background.

So, coming back, after a few days, the CAT response sheet was released and I could not bring myself to check it, I had to prepare for XAT and I couldn’t demotivate myself more than I already was. I thought I would wait for the percentile, which came out a day before XAT, I had scored a 94.xx percentile which was not very good to fetch calls, I knew that, but it was better than what I had expected, so, it was okay, I told myself better luck next time and I gave up on CAT2020 and I went for XAT. That exam was decent, and I was hoping it would be better than CAT.

Next, I started preparing for IIFT without brooding over what was done. Undoubtedly, I was sad over what had happened, and I felt I had disappointed everyone who had expectations from me. I faced a lot of existential crises and was not sure what I would do if none of the B-schools happened, but I just kept this in mind that if not this, then something else, this was not the end, it never would be. I always believed that I could later connect the dots even if things did not make sense right now. I looked at how my life shaped after I decided to join NIFT and everything fell into place eventually and I believed it would be the same this time as well.

Finally, the IIM calls started to roll in and to my extreme surprise, I had calls from IIM A, K, I, S, SPJain and CAP. Being a G(NE)F with good acads (94/96/91) came as a huge advantage for me, which I had no idea of, I knew I would require less percentile than a GEM but had no idea it could be this less. To be honest, I could not be very happy about this when my friends with much higher percentiles could not receive the calls due to past acads or because of just being a GEM/GEF. I understand the B-schools look for consistency and diversity which is totally understandable, but it was heartbreaking to see some people who worked extremely hard, could not get through. That’s where we realise that these MBA admissions are extremely random and unpredictable and not getting a call from top institutes does not mean you doubt your potential. 

After receiving the calls, I started my interview preparation and I loved the process, I started reading up about current affairs, other opinionated topics. During CAT prep, I started reading about philosophy, psychology, sociology and loved these. That’s why, I always say that I loved my prep process, before I started this, I only knew about my work and was completely cut off from the world, because of the prep I came to know about so many things and within few months I became a lot wiser, patient, aware and it just made me a better individual in so many ways. So, after undergoing the interviewers, some were good, I screwed up some, I was still unsure I could get into any good college, self-esteem issues again!

Finally, my first convert of the season came, which was SPJIMR, and this was extremely shocking as I felt that this interview was the toughest and the call to convert ratio was also less. But this made me extremely happy, and it came as a relief to me as now I knew that I’ll be able to do my MBA in 2021. And SPJIMR was one of my dream colleges, the curriculum, the social initiatives, everything has my heart!

Soon, all the interviews came to an end and I was waiting for all the results. Then came the rejection from IIM Ahmedabad and as always rejections are hard, I did feel disappointed, but I was extremely grateful to have even received the call. I saw the result, closed my eyes and just thanked everyone for the journey, and I realized what went wrong in the interview and I definitely learnt a lot from that.

After this I did receive converts from IIM Kozhikode, Shillong, new IIMs, IIT Madras and all of this made me even more grateful. For a girl who had decided to write CAT 2021 on 29th November 2020, all of this was unbelievable.

So, finally, SPJ it is and even though I still have my insecurities, as to how I will fare in a batch of extremely talented students but nonetheless, I am extremely excited for this journey.

Every day, I see lots of posts on LinkedIn of the people who convert their dream colleges and this makes me extremely happy because I understand the level of effort it takes to get there and how excited they would be! And for all those, who put in lots of efforts but couldn’t convert their dream colleges, I’d just say, hang in there, identify your mistakes and I’m sure, good things are in store for all, we just need to believe in ourselves, I know it becomes extremely tough in times like these to go but you are only person who can pick yourself up, so go for it!

I have been extremely lucky in this entire journey that I could do this with 5 months of preparation, and it was more of luck than hard work for me! I never invested a lot of time analyzing the process and I never believed I’ll be able to do it. If I would’ve, I know I could have fared much better, but that is done now. I can only be grateful and hope to do the best I can in the further journey! 

I worked harder for the interviews because, I knew the Non Engineer factor could get me a call at a lower percentile but converting at a lower percentile is even more tough, so the luck with little bit of hard work helped me to finally be at a place I wanted to be and I’m thankful to everyone I met on this journey, be it my mentors at CL, especially Abhishek Sir, who helped me with the Interview prep, fellow aspirants, looking at whom I stayed motivated and all the Inside IIM  and other forum’s posts.

More than being at a B school, I have become a more matured person and I can feel the difference in me. I never thought I could change so much in a year, from feeling stuck at a workplace to now seeing new dreams and wanting to bring about changes. I have realized that the journey is definitely more important than the destination. And living in the moment, taking baby steps proved to be more fruitful than trying to brood over long-term plans. There have been times in my life, where I felt disappointed, where I felt like giving up, but now when I look back, I see everything that happened led me to this place and I would not want to change a thing! So, for everyone who is feeling hopeless, helpless and dejected, just hang in there, 5-10 years down the line, things will definitely make sense!

 “Anyone trying to figure out what they’ll be in five years confronts one undeniable fact. Just as a great writer once said, Perhaps the earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road. We set out on journeys full of hopes and expectations, but when we arrive, the destination never ends up looking exactly the way we had hoped it would.” So, live in the moment and believe in yourself and trust the process! 

I have so many things that I want to share, things I realized in the past year, things which motivated me, expressing my gratitude for everyone, but this has already been really long, so, I’ll just leave it here! 😛 

Thank you for reading such a long story! 🙈

Regards,

Amrita Mitra

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