Harshvardhan
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IIM Ahmedabad'23
Interviewed by:
Prahsita Saxena
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Q. When did you start your preparation for CAT? How did you manage your time during your job?

I thought of MBA during my 7th semester and enrolled in coaching. But then I realised it'd be better to pursue an MBA after some work experience, so I dropped the idea of taking CAT during my final year. I entirely focused on my placement preparation. I started taking bi-weekly mock tests (TIME and IMS) in May 2020, during the second year of my job and started full-fledged prep in October 2020. I focused on my weak areas and paper solving strategies. I managed this along with my job, by consistently studying 2-3 hours per day. All I needed was to brush up on the syllabus since I had already studied for CAT during my final year.

Q. How much do you think college CGPA matters? And what, according to you, is a good CGPA?

Well, yes, it matters a lot. You get points for your CGPA. If you have >8.5 CGPA, you get a 10/10 score, and if it is between 7.5-8.5, it's an 8/10 score, and so on. It helps you a lot in shortlisting; the higher, the better. I'd say >7 is a "safe zone", and >8 is decent enough.

Q. What, according to you, is a good resume? What according to you is more important- College achievements or work ex? Do PORs play a major role?

Well, I'd say it should be balanced with college achievements and work experience(if any). If you just highlight your school work and achievements, it would indicate that you didn't do anything significant during your college/job.

Q. How did you prepare for IIM? Is it tough to crack the interview?

After clearing CAT, IIMs release a form, and you are supposed to mention your achievements, future goals, and of course, some general HR questions. During the interview, they'll start usually, and if they find anything interesting in your profile, proceed in that direction. In my case, they asked me the reason for my low CG in my first year at IIT. They have your mark sheet; they can ask anything ranging from your college clubs to your job. They even asked me about my NSS experience. However, if you are not comfortable answering about, let's say, a UG first-year course, you can humbly mention that as well. However, if someone's getting in as a fresher, they should have a fair idea of what they studied through these four years.

Q. Do you think doing an MBA after some work experience is better than doing it right after college?

Well, it helped in my case. IIMA has a lot of "machau" people, and some work-ex would definitely help during internship season at IIMA. I preferred doing it after job, but it may work out otherwise for some people. I'd personally suggest gaining some work-ex, as it helps you gain some perspective.

Q. What are the career options after MBA?

Consulting, finance, Product Management, Marketing, Sales, and some technical roles. Let's say one person gets into BCG straight after IIT, and another one who does so after getting an MBA, then the latter person is more likely to get into client-facing roles. Though this point is not that important at the initial stage, there is some difference in the salaries they get. MBAs are expected more to know how to handle people.

Q. You worked a lot on finance during your UG degree. How much are finance and MBA overlapped?

Initially, I was seeking fin roles at IIT, so many of my courses and projects were in finance. In my first year in MBA, I didn't face much difficulty in courses, as I had already gone through that stuff. Things would be different in the second year.