Year : 2012
Rank : 148
Topper Story - KSHITIJ TYAGI Background
Myself Kshitij Tyagi and I quit my job with the private firm and entered MNRE through a competitive exam. At the same time, I also started preparing for UPSC CSE exam and fortunately the plan worked.
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I gave my first attempt in 2010. During my engineering days, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what it is that I would like to do in life. The answer remained painfully elusive. After I passed out from IIT, I joined an MNC. My work there was interesting but a huge vacuum remained and I didn’t feel, for the lack of a better word, ‘significant’ enough. I wanted to ‘touch lives’, I wanted to ‘matter’. It was during my stint there that some of my friends cleared these exams. This got me curious, and thankfully, interested enough to explore more about the services and the selection process.
I gave my first attempt in 2010 rather frivolously since there wasn’t much time left before pre. I had taken mechanical engineering as optional, but couldn’t clear pre without preparation. After that, I dabbled with psychology for some time. It was in December 2010, when I zeroed in on Public Administration and Sociology. I have been regular with current affairs since January-2010. More details of my preparation strategy can be found on my blog – kshitij-tyagi.blogspot.in.
The Choice of Optional Subjects
I went through the basic books of Public Administration and Sociology – just a cursory glance at each to ascertain if it was my cup of tea. A major reason behind choosing these optionals' was that both of them can be done easily in lesser time, and I could manage both with my job. Also, there is no dearth of material available for these subjects in the market. Thirdly, they enable substantial value to add to other portions of the syllabus such as Essay, GS, and Interview.
I had my share of interludes of inactivity as well. The key is to get back on track as early as possible. In fact, some breaks are necessary to recharge oneself for the arduous journey ahead. During my sojourn, I became an excellent time manager. The more tired I was after my day at work, the harder I would push myself to make good use of the remaining time of the day. The source of inspiration is a very individual thing. I looked within for motivation, I would write poetry to energize myself at times. I have detailed some of these aspects in my blog. I didn’t adhere to a strict number of hours – in fact, it must have varied from 1 to 5 on weekdays and 4 to 10-12 on weekends, depending upon various factors. My focus was on completing the syllabus and revising what I had read as much as possible.
I referred to Wikipedia for many subjects. The PIB releases were also a good source of information. Other than that, I would download whatever I felt was relevant and store it for revision at a later date. I got 118 marks for the following essay –
Topic – In the Indian context, both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism.
I was never shattered since I knew I had not given it my 100% in my first attempt. In the following attempt, I was satisfied that I had given it my best shot. (Refer to the post titled “Three Hours” on my blog). I’ve always felt that getting into civil services was my target and not my dream. I did not put it on a pedestal that is too high to achieve. These services are only one of the myriad ways in which you can set foot on a path that would lead you to your dream… Dreams are bigger, dreams are fantastic…!
As opposed to my previous attempt, I was well prepared this time. My strategy was in place and I had left no stone unturned in covering the syllabus. I was confident in my success. Many aspirants have a fear of the interview, thinking that “my profile is not good because
- I’ve low marks in SSC/HSC/College,
- I don’t have any extra-curricular certificates,
- I don’t have work experience,
- I graduated from some unknown college,
- I’m from non-English medium and so on…”
So, How important or relevant is the profile of a candidate during an interview?
Though I wouldn’t say that a good profile is a must, it does give an edge in the interview. So those who had low marks in their graduation and are not working can do some value add to their CV through internships, work with NGOs, Govt agencies, etc. However, this is not a rule, and many candidates have secured very good marks without having any of those accolades to show for. They didn’t ask me uncomfortable questions, but there were some that stumped me. For example, the question about the traditional medicine industry in India was completely unrelated to my profile. If yes, how did you reply to those questions?
My interview transcript is available on my blog.
I would have continued to work in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. I am a part of the National Solar Mission and there are exciting opportunities visible on the horizon.
Advice and tips for working professionals
When preparing for CSE, your job becomes secondary. So if they’ve wasted your entire day in meetings, no mattered how tired you are in the evening, get back to books with a vengeance, even if it is for a few hours. Always remember that you are competing with people who are dedicated to CSE 24X7, but believe that you can still outperform them. Be the most efficient machine you’ve ever been! Also, two months’ leave before mains is a must in my opinion, for it is not just the knowledge that you need them. You also need the sublime mental focus of an eagle, and industriousness of an ass!
Family and Friends
My family – I wouldn’t have succeeded without their constant support and sacrifice.