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We asked Get Ahead readers to send in stories of career success despite academic failure. Ayush Biyani shares his success story:
I could be called the epitome of under-performance -- having performed badly at every exam I've faced.
I fared very badly in my BTech scoring a meagre 1.99 out of 4 as my CPI (cumulative performing index). Being from a new institute (DAIICT), the word placement was as new as the institute itself, but even that didn't help my situation. I couldn't even sit for most of the exams the companies gave, because of my poor score.
That was the most frustrating time of my educational career. All I could do was watch my batch mates sitting for the tests and breeze through placements. At that time, all I wanted was a chance to sit for just one exam. I was confident that I would clear it, all I needed was a chance. But the only thing I had to back this confidence were two-digit ranks in all the exams I had ever appeared for since Class 12.
That was the turning point in my life. Not being able to sit for placements gave me the determination to fare well in an exam, a purely technical exam. I wanted to prove to the world and myself that it was not due to lack of effort that I didn't fare well.
The best option at the time seemed to be GATE. Ever since I began my BTech programme, I had an interest in electronics and so I decided to attempt the GATE in electronics and communication engineering (ECE).
Taking the decision was the easy part. My bachelors' degree syllabus did not cover the material that would be covered in the GATE. But I persevered, confident that if I studied the courses properly and solved a reasonable number of questions, a good score like 95-96 percentile could be achieved.
With this mantra I began my preparations in December, with the GATE scheduled for February. I burnt the proverbial midnight oil to understand and revise all the topics that could appear in the exam. I went through the question papers of the previous 7-8 years, which gave me a fair idea of the kind of questions that would be asked. I always knew that students all over India take GATE in the branch that they have studied and that too with 6-8 months of formal coaching. But I didn't let that get me down; I persevered.
At the time when most of my fellow students had made it through campus placements and were chilling in college, I was alone in the reading room studying.
When the date finally arrived, I wrote the exam and had a feeling that I had done just enough to qualify; sure in the belief that most others would have been better prepared. When the results were finally declared I scored in the 98.07 percentile even though ECE was not my branch.
This was just what I needed to boost my confidence and start believing in myself again. I then began applying to the IITs and IISc. But destiny had something else in store for me. IIT Delhi and Roorkee rejected my application because of my low CPI score. This was a hard blow to my self-confidence, something I had not expected given my performance in the GATE. I however got into IIT Madras and decided to take up an MTech programme in solid-state technology. I soon realised that this was not the branch for me and decided to quit.
I appeared for an IISc interview but failed to clear it. In that period, all I heard from people was "Had you done well in the BTech this would not have happened". It was a tough fact to digest -- I was not allowed to enter any programme even though I performed well in GATE, just because of my poor academic career before that.
Anyway, I began working for Reliance [Get Quote] Infocomm and then moved on to Infosys [Get Quote]. My aspirations started growing and I wanted bigger and better things. That was when I realised I was not very good at speaking and writing English. And so I began reading. I'd read everything I could get my hands on, from simple signs to newspapers to magazines. Gradually, my communication and writing skills improved as my penchant for reading grew.
I then began going for interviews of companies I wanted to work in. I was interviewed by major multinationals but couldn't make the cut because of a lack of technical knowledge. But I refused to give up, looking upon it as a challenge. I prepared myself better and my efforts finally paid off when I got selected by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Today, I have the satisfaction of working alongside MTechs from NITs and IITs.
So, I might not have studied at an IIT or IISc, but I know that there are some things that I can do better and faster than others. My CPI score doesn't matter anymore. When I look back now, looking at the struggles I've had to face in my career I realise that all what matters is attitude. Nothing is impossible, you need to rise from the setbacks, push your limits and keep fighting everyday to improve yourself and achieve your goals.
Ayush Biyani, 24, is a systems analyst with the Royal Bank of Scotland.
If you have been successful in a vocation despite not having fared well academically, tell your story and help others in a similar situation turn their lives around.
Mail your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org, making sure to include your full name, age, occupation, the name of your city, and a photograph (if possible). We will publish it in the Get Ahead section of rediff.com.
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