About Pankaja Pawar:
Pankaja was born and brought up in Mumbai. Despite being an engineer, most of Pankaja’s work experience is in Marketing & Operations, juggling a full-time job and consulting with another startup, along with being actively involved in the Rotaract movement, currently serving as the President of a chapter. With a crazy passion for food, Pankaja also has a food blog where invites are received from restaurants around the city to review them.
Pankaja’s journey to IIM Sambalpur
Considering the fact that I’ve always been involved in various things & they all have a business branch to them, I’ve been an MBA aspirant since a while. My journey is rather unique because I was preparing for my GMAT since Sept’19 and had registered for CAT because why not?
Days went by and my preparation for GMAT was not enough and I had no option but to book a date that was very close to CAT, 25th November’19 to be precise. CAT was held just a day prior. I had some level of preparation because of GMAT so with no expectations I gave my CAT. It went alright. But the very next day, GMAT was a disaster and I landed up scoring really low. Very disheartened, until one day CAT answer key was out and when I calculated I knew I was going to score between 90-93 %ile.
So I applied to a few colleges as per the expected percentile to see whether I have a chance at those schools. I scored 92.78%ile ( 93.6/ 96.8/ 75.07) which was surprising but not good enough as I had not crossed 80%ile in QA , a common sectional cutoff for many schools. I did get calls from IMT Ghaziabad, KJ Somaiya & IIM Sambalpur but failed to get calls from SP Jain ( was expecting profile based) and Vgsom. That’s when I realized that the CAT is more like an elimination test rather than an admission test.
Building Profile and Understanding PI
There are many other factors. So I had to ensure that I converted all colleges I got shortlisted. I prepared for the GD WAT PI and left no stone unturned. This time I knew that if I don’t ensure great performance here, I lose my chance which would have demotivated me. I drew up any question I thought would be asked based on my CV and common questions with respect to MBA interviews, gave it a good thought and came up with my answers. For any drawback in my profile, I had a good enough reason and I just had to ensure I present it in the best manner possible. No, I’m not amongst the ones who spontaneously give all appropriate answers in their interviews, I knew what was at stake for me so I ensured I had prepared for my answers. Did not hype about any achievement neither did I mislead any part of my profile, just made sure that it was well presented along with my story and intent for an MBA.
All my interviews were great and I converted all. I feel very privileged to opt for IIM Sambalpur this year for the PGP 2020-22 batch. The IIMs have always been prestigious and well respected, now I’m glad I’ll be joining one that too in it’s early years.
So my learnings and advice to aspirants would be
- There is no shortcut. You have to take old school route of hardwork and then analyse your strengths further working towards it.
- Prepare yourself for D-Day. It’s all for nothing if pressure gets the best of you on the D-Day.
- Take advice from others but never forget that only you know what’s best for you. What maybe trash for someone may just be gold for you & vice versa.
- Whether you wish to reappear or not depends on many factors like what position are you in, will there be an extended gap in your profile, are you ready to put in hard work like never before, will I definitely get a significantly better school next year? If you get optimistic answers for all then why not.