A while back, my blog buddy Vee told us that she has been accepted into a prestigious Global Management School. That sparked off a memory of my initial career years and the race to do an MBA. When I was in the final year of engineering, my class was divided into two main groups – those who wanted to do MS and those who wanted to do MBA. An insignificant statistical minority like me wanted to work. An MBA was a maybe option and I had convinced myself that I did not need one right away. Back then, I just wanted to work.
About two years into my career, the MBA bug bit me. Was it the peer pressure? Was it the fact that MBA trainees were paid higher than us, ‘experienced’ folks or the fact that I was shifting to business from tech and every Tom, Dick and Harry had a an MBA to their name. They just assumed that you had one too and raised eye brows in shock when you said you did not. An MBA became a necessity suddenly and gave birth to a new project –
Belling the CAT!
I had heard a lot about it from my friends and peers. While the ones who sailed through called it child’s play, the ones who did not, called it a killer! So what was it? To solve the mystery, I did what most self respecting intellectuals did – I Googled it! Have you tried Googling CAT lately? Apart from a few images and videos of cute kittens, you get a whole lot of material on CAT exams, classes and forums and what not. A decade ago, it was no different. Even after a month of reading through endless forums and long discussions, I was nowhere close to understanding the mystery that was CAT. I gave up my online attempts and started looking for experts around me who could help. The CAT experts were of two varieties – ones who had taken multiple shots at it or those who taught in classes. For obvious reasons, I chose the latter. I attended trial classes at two institutes and chose the one closer home.
The CAT classes I had joined was a special batch for ‘professionals’. What it meant was that all the attendees were people who had jobs and hence the classes were late in the evening or during weekends. As soon as the classes started, I landed a major project at work. This meant burning the midnight oil and hence was missing 3 out of the five weekday evening classes. Oh and did I mention my company then had a 6 day work week? Yeah, so while my fellow aspirants were learning the tricks and tips on Saturday morning, I was chasing reluctant people to sign off on new processes. Fun Fun Fun. On Sundays, I would be too zonked to get out of bed, let alone go attend a CAT class. Thank God the fee had to be paid quarterly and I withdrew after the first one thereby saving some of the money I was working so hard for.
The CAT classes institute was not happy to let me go and they convinced me to sign up for the correspondence program. “You have access to all our study material, the tests and our website! Besides, you are right next door. If you ever have queries, just walk in and the instructors would attend to you” the centre manager said with a very convincing smile. His logic made sense so I signed up for that. Well, the course material arrived every week diligently. The pile of unopened envelopes began growing on my desk, only to be shoved under the bed in haste if some one was visiting home and needed to be given a house tour.
A few months later, when the CAT exam loomed really close, I began panicking. Sort of. The websites and forums had a bunch of regulars who discussed formulae and tips and short cuts with absolute passion. Previous exams’ questions were dissected so fine that a biology teacher would have been proud of them. Some intellectuals also discussed the Group Discussions and Personal Interview tips making me applaud the confidence they had.
As for me, the books seemed to be written in gobbledygook. That is what you get for ignoring the study material till the last minute, I chided myself and started to put in the effort. It was August and I had vowed to slog for the next three months and give it my best shot. Come September and mom announced that the house needed repairs. On teacher’s day, a whole lot of labourers landed at our home and renovations began in full earnest. Needless to say, I could not study in that atmosphere even if I wanted to. Suppressing my anger – first at my laxness and then at mom’s decision to start the repairs then, I admitted to myself that this year I would not be able to crack the CAT. I attempted the paper though it was a half hearted attempt.
Looking back, the whole experience taught me that one has to have a clearly defined goal and really be passionate toward it. Had I been so, I would have been self driven to study and would have prepared myself for the CAT irrespective of the projects or the renovation. So fellows, if you are looking to Bell The CAT, get your act together early and get cracking!