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Q1. What prompted you to switch from a core engineering field to civil services?
It was beginning of 2009; I had worked with Yahoo! for around 1.5 years. I was amongst the top performer at the job, had even filed for a patent. But still I was not satisfied at Yahoo. That year I had appeared for multiple interviews of IIMs. I had taken GMAT (score 760) and was even planning to apply for MBA abroad next year. At time I was also thinking of doing a startup in the software field. I was really confused on what to do. Everything might seem planned at the retrospect but it was really tough time.
I left my job at Yahoo! in April, 2009. At time of leaving, I had even sent the cheque to IIM for the MBA course. I was talking to my family and also some of close friends to decide the career path. After few weeks I realized that MBA is definitely not the thing I want to do as the job will not change much compared to yahoo, only the salary will change. Then, I worked with one of my friend on few startup ideas for around 2 months. It was very challenging period, we used to analyze our ideas a lot and ended up not making any substantial progress in 2 months. I think that I was more responsible as I always wanted to have some backup. Ultimately, we decided to work in some other startups and first learn and then start on our own. He joined some startup and later went on start on his own after 6 months.
During this time, I thought of things that I had wanted to do in my Childhood and whether I would like to do that for rest of my life. I thought of things that are achievable and where I could make a difference. This thinking led me to prepare for IAS. Initially I was very skeptical of the whole process of selection. Many friends told me it’s a waste of time, the examination is very subjective and all. But still, I joined an institute in Bangalore [JTS institute] as they gave weekend classes. Also, I took up a job in one of startups at Bangalore. This went on for almost 6 months till end of 2009. Well, the coaching was pretty bad but still it gave me a feel for examination. I decided to jump in preparations full time. After talking to few friends I decided to move to Delhi, a decision which I made half-heartedly but in retrospect it was one of the most critical decisions.
Q2. How did you prepare for the Civil Service Examination (C.S.E.)? Did you join any coaching?
I moved to Delhi in March 2010, appeared for CSE Prelims in June 2010. I did very well in prelims, but was not prepared for mains. I had not even decided my 2nd optional till June. Ultimately I picked Sociology, relied too much on Vajiram Classes. I missed the mains cut-off by 10-15 marks, which proved to be blessing in disguise as I didn’t had to wait for 3-4 months for interview and final results. Just after Mains, I had started
preparing for the next examination. I made notes for every topic and covered every part of syllabus.
For my second attempt I had not taken any formal coaching. I had just joined few test series which I attended intermittently.
Q3. In your opinion what is the ideal time to start the preparation for C.S.E.?
As early as possible. Start with newspapers and slowly cover topics of General Studies.
Q4. Were there any extra-curricular activities that you were involved in NSIT that helped you in interview and selection process? How important were academics in helping you get selected?
I was part of organizing team of Moksha for all 4 years. I was treasurer in 2006 and chief convenor in 2007 edition. I was involved in many activities in NSIT which gave me great amount of exposure. I don’t think it contributed directly to marks but all these experience are what I am.
I participated in almost every programming event and gaming events held.
Intially I was amongst the top students, but later my percentages were not great. My aggregate percentage was 73% over 4 years. I used to study only towards the end.
Q5. Kindly give us a brief description about the selection procedure and different rounds for the same.
Refer to UPSC site. The syllabus and pattern has changed the lot in last 2 years.
Q6.The pattern for the C.S.E. has changed recently. What are your views about it and how do you think engineers specifically would be affected by the change?
It’s better as the current pattern will provide a level playing field. It will better for engineers.
Q7. What was the mantra you followed to crack the herculean task of interview? What was the toughest question you were asked?
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