Should I quit my job to prepare for CAT?

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B-School Selection / CAT

It’s been a while since I wrote a post, so I thought I will take up a question(s) that I am often asked and is most relevant at this point in time given that some of you might be looking at re-taking the CAT after an underwhelming CAT 2016 and others might be desperate to crack CAT 2017.

  • is it wise to quit my job to prepare for the CAT?
  • will quitting my job have a negative impact on my profile?
  • how can I prepare if I am working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week?


These are questions that many aspirants ask themselves since there is a huge premium on acquiring an education from a prestigious college and an MBA is for most the last big shot that they can take to get a big brand name on to their resume.

There are other reasons as well ranging from a mind-numbingly monotonous IT job to a horrible boss, to the existential dread — what will become of me and my life if I am stuck in my current situation forever.

Also, there are many who have faced this situation this before as well when they had set their eyes for the first time on getting two more Is than what God brought them into the world with — the IITs.

For most of my colleagues the answer is a simple NO. But I think under certain circumstances quitting your job might be the best option in front of you with the proviso that you quit at the right time and do more than just prep for the CAT.


If you quit, be prepared to face the music in every single interview

Before anything else please understand that if you quit, in every single interview that you face you will have to answer the question — Why did you quit your job?

This question is bound to be followed by others such as

  • surely you did it just to prepare for the CAT!
  • so it means you are not good at multi-tasking?
  • more than half of our students have work-ex, do you mean to say that all of them had jobs that allowed them to put their feet up?

Forget at the interview stage, some institutes such as IIM-A ask this question in the FORM they send out to candidates they shortlist for the WAT-PI round — Do you have any breaks in your professional career? If YES, then please explain?

But you can rest assured that these questions have been successfully tackled by aspirants in the past and in IIM interviews at that.

But what is important is that you quit at the right time, plan your break to take up activities that enhance your profile and achieve things that will help you make a great pitch in the interview.


How will quitting affect your profile in terms of getting into an IIM?

First, let us look at the effect of quitting your job on your chances of getting a shortlist from a quantitative perspective.

There are colleges such as IIM-B and many others that give a weightage to work experience in the shortlisting process. In such cases you will lose out on valuable points and will hence have to score higher on the test to get the shortlist than if you had stuck on in your job. So yes, there is a clear quantitative effect.

If you have two or more years of work-ex and the rest of your profile — X, XII, Grad Marks — is good you can on average score 0.5 – 0.75 percentile points lower than someone with no or low work-ex. But remember that this is only in the case of institutes that give a weightage to work-ex.

This quantitative effect as you will see will be negligible in the case of people with more than 30-36 months years of work experience since the points for work-ex are not directly proportional to the amount of work-ex in that they are capped after a point. To know more about IIM selection criteria you can read this post — The IIM Selection Criteria: Will I get a call from the IIMs?

The other way of looking at this question is qualitatively — in terms of how panelists will view you in the interview. Panelists more often than not feel that all MBA aspirants hate engineering and run after an MBA to make more money. So when they see candidates who have quit what is on paper a promising professional opportunity, they tend to look at the him/her in an unfavourable light and will expect them to justify the same.


How will quitting affect your profile in terms of the roles offered at top b-schools?

IIMs and other top-schools slot candidates into two categories for placements — regular and lateral.

Lateral placements are for people with a certain amount of work experience for roles that are above entry-level management roles. What is that certain amount of work experience?

It differs from college to college. Some base it on absolute number of months such as 20, 22 or 24, others decide based on the average work-ex in the batch. Either ways it usually falls into the 20-24 range.

Also it is important to note that for some domains and firms having work-ex is a must-have and hence recruiters look purely at lateral candidates. What are the domains where relevant work-experience is a pre-requisite?

OPERATIONS roles for example most definitely go to people who have experience in shop-floor, product design, logistics, supply chain management etc. So engineers working in operations will do well to finish working for two years before entertaining thoughts of quitting.

IT CONSULTING roles for example again typically go to those with 2 plus years of experience in software.

Recruiters from new sectors such as e-commerce from firms such as Amazon also tend look at candidates with a certain amount of work experience, usually IT or Analytics or technology.

General management firms such as Tata Administrative Services(TAS) and the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) also prefer people with work experience but they also take in freshers.

Roles in Marketing do not need a work experience, with Marketing recruiters having a very strong preference for freshers or only those with very relevant work experience sales, marketing analytics, the same applies to HR as well.

For Finance your graduation discipline, brand of graduation college and professional certifications such as CA, CFA, FRM matter way more than work experience. So if you are a Commerce Grad from a top-tier graduation college looking to build a career in Finance, work experience is not a must unless it is relevant.

For Consulting roles, the brand names on your resume matter more than anything else. It is not whether you have work-ex or not but firstly the brand value of the organization your worked with that matters more. IITian and NITian freshers with a strong academic profile stand a very high chance of getting shortlisted. Those from other colleges of national repute with stellar resumes in terms of academic and extra-curricular achievements also get shortlists.

Overall just to put things in perspective, about 30-40 percent of students in top b-schools are freshers.


How many months of work-ex makes it safe to quit?

So by now it will be clear that quitting will not affect your chances if you do it after finishing 2 years of working, I would say around 24 months is may be the ideal amount of work experience to have going into an Indian b-school.

If you already have 3 years of experience and a relatively weak resume is makes to quit prepare for CAT and build your profile.


In what cases does quitting before 24 months make sense?

The only reason to quit before 24 months is if you are very clear that you want an industry and domain shift. So if you are an engineer from one of the core departments working in IT and you want to do an MBA to get away from not just IT services but also technology then it makes sense to quit your job before 24 months of experience.

The more work experience you accumulate in your industry the more likely you are to get roles within than industry or domain.


What is the best time to quit to prepare for CAT?

The simple answer is that if all you want to do is quit and prepare for the CAT 8 to 10 hours a day, you will not need more than 3 months. So working backwards, your break should not start before 1-August.

It might seem as if I am speaking about aspirants who are already at a particular level, say 85 percentile. It might seem that if you are someone who is very out of touch with Math, you will need a more time. But these arguments assume that you will have done no prep till August, which is not the case. Even if we consider these concerns legitimate since you know yourself better than I ever will, given that I know the CAT better than you ever will, your break should not start earlier than 1-June.

So at the most your break will need to start 6 months before the CAT, not before that.


What you should be doing if you quit before August

If after going through the post so far, you have made up your mind to start your break for CAT prep by June this year then you should do more than just prepare for the CAT. Else as discussed above, interviewers will have a great time turning you over on both sides on a red-hot grill.

In all the cases where my students have successfully made it to a top b-school despite a break of 8 to 10 months by the time they faced their interviews, the students had taken up things to improve their skills and profile.

What are the things they took up?

  • Those who wanted to improve their communication & public speaking skills joined Toastmasters, cleared a few levels and got to hold a few positions of responsibility at Toastmasters.
  • Those who wanted to get some diversity into their profile worked with start-ups for Teach For India or a while.
  • Those who wanted to add some academic weight to their resume took up certification programs in their area of interest on Coursera.
  • Those who lacked any social work related activities on their resume took up working with an NGO

You need not limit yourself to this; you can take up anything that you have a strong interest in — learning a dance form or languages or singing or photography — as long as you invest quality time and have something to show for it.

For a more detailed insight on how you can improve your profile to align it to your chosen domain post-MBA you should read — How to build your profile


Too much of anything, even CAT Prep can be harmful

Apart from resume building these activities also ensure that you do not become obsessed with the CAT and pile up the pressure on yourself leading to test-day.

They offer a good break from CAT Prep in terms of taking your mind off the test and also helping you peak at the right time.

Peaking at the right time is very important because if you are doing nothing but doing CAT prep for 8 or more hours a day, you will peak in about 3 months time and come test-day you will have exhausted yourself.

This is the reason why sometimes teams that do not start off well in a tournaments such as World Cups manage to get their act together over a period of time and peak in the final (Australia in the 1999 Cricket World Cup) whereas teams that seem to be hot favourites crash out.

I have tried be as extensive as possible in terms of covering all the things that you need to consider before taking a call to quit. Even so, I am sure that each one of you might have unique backgrounds and aspirations making it tough for you to take a call. Feel free to post your queries regarding quitting in the comments section and I will answer them or drop me a mail at tony@imsindia.com.

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76 Comments

  1. Hello Tony,
    I am currently working as a software engineer in an IT firm, I have an experience of 12 months now. I am planning to quit my job by September half and start preparing for the coming CAT exam.I have been going for the coaching classes from February itself. Will that be a good decision if I quit my job by September and start intensive preparation.?

    Like

    • Hi,

      As I mentioned it you want to build a career on the business side of the tech. industry then having a couple of years of work ex will come in handy, during b-school placements.

      If you want to move away from IT/Tech then you can put in your papers by September.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  2. Hi Tony

    My profile: X-92%, XII- 84%, Bcom- 61%, CA Finalist (result awaited) and has around 12 months of post Graduation experience apart from Articleship.

    I have started my preparation of CAT 17 from May17 and working simultaneously.

    Do i need to quit job for preparation in the near future ? Also, do i wait for my CA to complete then plan CA? and Will my CA Finalist tag will be a hindrance in college selections?

    Please guide.!!

    Like

    • I suppose your CA result will be out soon. If it is out before the last of submission of CAT applications, it will be good. Otherwise it will not pose any hindrance.

      So as of now do not bother about the CA and just focus on the CAT.

      Whether you need to quit your job or not depends on the amount of time you have to execute your CAT Prep. By the way articleship is not considered work ex.

      Like

  3. raviraj says

    Hi Tony,
    I am currently working as a software engineer in an MNC and having an experience of 33 months.
    I have scored 91%ile in CAT 2016 (flunked Verbal Ability section).My profile: X-89, XII-84.9, B.tech-68.
    I am planning to quit by end of august for CAT as I am not able to concentrate and devote more time for my CAT preparation. I don’t want to wait another year for an MBA.
    Will it effect me during interview stages and also during campus placements in B-School ?

    Like

  4. Kaustav says

    Hi Tony,
    I am currently working as a software engineer in an MNC and having an experience of 33 months.
    I have been going through the courses in coursera, but a lot of them are there where you don’t need to have a prior knowledge. Could you please list down 5-10 important courses(marketing/finance/analytics…etc) which would create a positive image and help me ace through the interview process.

    Thanks and regards,
    Kaustav

    Like

    • Hi Kaustav,

      Most of the courses, especially the management ones do not need prior knowledge.

      Which courses you should take up depends on the specialisation you wish to pursue during your MBA and the domain you want to work in.

      If it is Finance or Marketing then the courses that Wharton offer will be handy.

      If it is IT/Tech then courses in big data and analytics will be helpful.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  5. sangamshayideep says

    Sir;

    I have just finished my B.Tech in Computer Science Field in July 2017. Should I take up a job and prepare for CAT or just prepare for CAT?

    Can we cover this 3 months gap with anything else? What are all the alternatives?

    This is worrying me for past few days. Please help me out, sir.

    Thanking You,

    Good Regards
    Venkat

    Like

    • Hi Venkat,

      If you find a job that is really good job in say Data Analytics or product development go for it, else prepare for the CAT.

      Take up volunteering work, say teaching, with NGOs such as Bhumi and certification programs on coursera that should suffice.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  6. Hi,
    Need your advice. This is my profile
    10th-93.53 12th- 91.38 Btech Mech- 8.26 cgpa.
    I have a total of 18 months of experience in core industry till today. I want to pursue MBA in operations. I appeared for CAT’17 but feel like i wont be able to score good percentile this year as I wasn’t able to dedicate time for preparation. I’m contemplating leaving my job in December or Jan next year with notice period of 3 months.

    Like

    • Hi Prasad,
      You have a very good profile, so finish 24 months before you quit. Some firms such as Aditya Birla Group or TASNor Amazon, recruit people for 2 levels, freshers at a lower level and those with 2 plus at a higher level.

      So put in the notice at a point when you can get 24 months in all. Do not in any circumstance quit without finishing that, you don’t want to lose shortlists just for a few months.

      And anyways even if you want to quit, CAT doesn’t need more than 6 months of full time prep.

      All the best!

      Like

  7. kalaivani says

    hi,
    I want to get MBA from IIM A -that’s my ambition. I have 92% in X and 94% inXII and engg 8.25 cgpa. I am working in Organization X from July 2016. As of now, I have 18 months experience.But the organization where I am working demands all of my time for work and am working 12-14 hours daily. and even on weekends am working. They have projected huge targets than last year. I am planning to quit my job on feb end with 20 months exp. I do need a domain change from this technical work. Will it work if I join in any short-term courses and get certifications, teach in some NGOs, while studying for cat with coaching in parallel after quit my job in feb?.

    Like

  8. Hi Tony,

    I have been working with a leading IT services company in the field of Application Security. Like most engineers I am not happy with the work here and want to switch into a different domain. I have 20 months of work ex till date and have an overall career 80 percent. I have a keen interest in the media and communication sector and have been doing food and movie reviews for some time. I have given a couple of exams this year but my CAT score isnt good enough to apply in MICA. I will probably get calls from some of the Symbi colleges including SIMC along with other okayish colleges. So what would you suggest, should I take up the MBA in media in SIMC if I manage to get through or should complete 24 months of job ex and probably leave and study post it again for CAT next year. Will I be able to avail roles in different domains other than IT post a 24-26 month experience? Please suggest and advice

    Regards
    Soumya

    Like

  9. Hi Tony,

    I have been working with an IT firm for the last 20 months. I want a change in domain or sector of work I am presently in. I am very keen on a MBA in Media and Communication management like the ones institutions like MICA, SIMC provide. I did give most exams this time but my performance in most of them have not been very convincing. I am planning to take a break post May and leaving the job after completion of 24 months of work ex. Will I be eligible for a domain or industry shift post 24-26 months of work ex? Please suggest.

    Regards
    Soumya

    Like

    • While disunity shift after 2 years is tough it’s certainly possible if you get into a specialised Institute such as SIMC or MICA, so you need not worry on that count.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi! i have a job experiance of 6 months till now. I am in a dilemma to quit in june or not. Moreover, i am currently working in human resource though i was recruited for engineering post. I don’t want to take up operations and neither i see myself working as HR after MBA . So, should i continue working in human resourse or take up something that is related to my field (engineering , Just for the sake of experiance) or quit my job at this moment?

    Like

    • Hi,

      What are you interested in within Management. For example, if it’s Marketing, then continuing in HR will not necessarily hurt.

      Taking up an engineering job is only going to help if you are looking at Operations or General Management roles later but not if the work ex is less than 2 years.

      If it’s Finance, then quitting and doing certification programs relevant to Finance while prepping for CAT will help.

      All the best!

      Like

  11. Pranav says

    Hello Tony,

    Your post cleared a lot of doubts that I had, but it would be really great if you could guide me as per my profile?
    Xth-90.6%
    XIIth-67.2%
    B.Tech-67.54%
    Work Ex- 37 months till Jan 2018 and counting (Infosys)

    I am targeting CAT 2018 and planning to quit my job as I am afraid more months of work-ex is going to dim my chances of converting any good b-school next year.?

    Can you please guide the correct time to quit?
    And how can I improve my profile?

    Will joining NGO help?
    Or what other options can be explored?

    Thanks In Advance.

    Cheers,
    Pranav

    Like

    • Hi Pranav,
      Since you already have 37 months of work ex, quitting won’t harm your profile. More than three years is not a strict no but it does not give you any advantage either.

      Work with an NGO for a good period of time.

      Most importantly take up certification courses in the areas you want to specialise in.

      Courses in Big Data and Analytics will be helpful, so will those in Marketing.

      If you can take up one extra-curricular interest as well – fitness or languages or anything that you always wanted to learn- it will really help.

      You can justify the break,saying that you took up three things.

      All the best!

      All the best.

      Like

  12. Yash Agrawal says

    Hello Tony,
    I have been pursuing CA cleared CPT but unfortunately was not able to clear IPCC.I have completed my graduation in May 17. Alongside preparing for CA I have given CAT17 (got 77 percentile) and NMAT17(got calls from NMIMS Bangalore and Hyderabad).I already have a gap year now.
    So should I prepare for CAT18 which will lead to two gap years or join the NMIMS? If I prepare for CAT18 will the two years of gap affect my selection chances? Please suggest.
    My Profile
    10th-8.6/10 (CGPA)
    12th-79.4%
    B.Com-67.54%
    No Work Ex

    Regards,
    Yash Agrawal

    Like

    • Hi Yash,

      Unless you plan to take up work, a two year gap will be tough to explain.

      So if you are planning to work and prepare, give it another shot. Else join this year.

      All the best!

      Like

  13. Hi!
    I am a Hotel Management graduate who quit his first job as a Chef in August 2017, prepared for CAT 2017 for 2.5 months and scored an overall of 80 percentile. So I took up yet another job, but this time I am in a content creation role with a start-up which works with MBA aspirants.
    10th- 84.4%
    12th- 88.6%
    Graduation: 72%
    And I will have had 1-year work of experience by the time AWT calls come in.
    So, I have three questions:
    1. As you can see, my graduation marks are no great shakes. However, I come under AC5 of IIM-A’s criteria for different streams, and I have a score of 8 with respect to all three phases of my academic background. What percentile would I need to score to get a call from IIM A, B or C?
    2. Currently, I am able to devote 3-4 hours on weekdays and 9+ hours on weekends. My weak areas are Quantitative Ability(48 percentile in CAT 2017) and to some extent, DI-LR (85 percentile in CAT 2017’s DI-LR). VA-RC is above average(95 Percentile in CAT 2017).
    Should I leave my job around September? Or shall I continue the way I am preparing?
    3. What material do you suggest that I use for DI-LR? I want to leave no scope for mistakes, considering that this section is getting more difficult by the year.

    P.S.: You have a great blog. Any way that I can get in touch with you?

    Regards,
    Chirag

    Like

    • Hi Chirag,

      With a less than 80 in Grad, it’s almost impossible to get a call from A even if score well in excess of 99.5.

      Since B gives weightage to work ex, you can get a call around 98.75.

      For C, CAT score has a high weightage and Grad marks are irrelevant so, you would need around 99.6.

      If you stock your current plan, quitting the job will not be necessary. Even so a two-week leave around sep-oct will always help.

      Honestly, if there was specific material for DI-LR that I could suggest I would have. The major test prep brands do the best they can, do nothing apart from that.

      The sets are tough because they are unique, which means they cannot be replicated and even if you solve 10 unique sets the 11th one will be unique.

      You will be better off sharpening your LR skills by solving Sudoku daily and measuring your times to crash them progressively.

      Glad you liked the blog, you can write to me at tony@imsindia.com

      All the best!

      Like

  14. Are you sure about the IIM-A thing?
    Because I personally know people with 70-75% in their engineering graduation who have got a call with 99.67 percentile in CAT 2017.
    I also have the diversity factor which works in my favour.
    Would that help?

    Like

    • Hi Chirag,

      Over the years I have personally not known students who have got an A call in the engineering category without an 80 above in Engg since they lose two marks there if they are below 85 but greater than 75, if they are between 70-75 they get only 5 out of 10. So technically unless the person is from a different educational background or is from a category, it’s impossible to make up for this drop. So you might need to check up on that information, I will too from my data on this year’s call-getters.

      You will get fall into the AC-3 academic category and get 8 out of 10 for grad, 8 out of 10 for X, and 10 out of 10 for XII only if you from and arts background in XII, else even that will be 8.

      So will you need to make up for a drop of 4 or 6 with the CAT percentile.

      AC-3 while less competitive than the engineering discipline is still not very easy since all the non-science streams, Commerce, Economics, BBA and there including HM are clubbed into this category.

      Hence I don’t want to make a comment that you will definitely get.

      At this point all you should focus on is on the things you can control. Let the IIMs have whatever criteria they want, You need to look at the best score you can get on the CAT and crack the best schools you can get.

      Am sure one year from now you will be more likely to be happy and ecstatic at having gotten into an old IIM than to be moping around thinking IIM-A did not give me a call.

      Control what you can, ignore the rest, do your best!

      Like

  15. Faraz says

    Hey Toni,

    I intend to appear for MBA entrance exams this year and have joined a coaching centre(weekend batch) for preparation. The issue is I spend around 12-14 hours out of home (traveling & working) because of which I don’t really get time to study on weekdays and was thinking of resigning and then search for a new job during the probation period.
    I would really appreciate your advise on whether I should quit and if yes then how should i go about things if I don’t find a job, as far as profile building is concerned.
    Freelancing and certifications are something I have thought of but I wish to pursue them only after knowing your opinion.
    I have been employed since October 2016 but had a training of 3 months basis which my current work experience comes around to 13 months and have a notice period of 2 months.

    Like

      • Faraz says

        Hi Tony,

        I work in a digital marketing firm as a seo analyst. I wish to pursue marketing. My academic profile is X – 88%, XII- 79% and 58% in engineering.

        Btw you’re blog is awesome. It has really informative and helpful articles!!!

        Thanks
        Faraz

        Like

      • Hi Faraz, If you joined in October 2016, then your total work ex as of Feb will be 16 months. I suggest you complete 22 months of work ex; so put in your papers in such a way that you will finish by end of June.

        You will have a good 5 months to prep for CAT. To build your profile work with an NGO, take up courses such as the Foundations of Marketing offered by Wharton on Coursera and any other thing of your interest. You would need about 6 hours of intensive CAT Prep, about an hour or two of reading up on current affairs, and an hour or two for profile-building.

        Even if you quit now it won’t affect your profile adversely but you will chill for a couple of months before picking up steam in June 🙂

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!

        Like

      • Faraz says

        Hey Toni, I missed out on an update. My experience will be counted from October 2016

        Like

  16. Sameer P says

    Hi Tony,

    I am a Mechanical Engineer and have 1 3.5 years of works experience in Technical Sales. My scores are X-89%, XII-82% & BE-67%.I want to pursue an MBA in Sales & Marketing.
    Currently I have resigned from my Job and my last working day is 31st March,2018. I will be appearing for CAT 2018. Considering my financial condition ,it is a make or break situation for me as I will be utilizing my savings for the next 6-7 months.
    Please guide me on how to properly utilize my next 6-7 months apart from CAT preparation so that this gap does not have an adverse effect on my profile. The only thing I cannot afford is a new learning activity that will consume my finances (I mean joining a new course by paying some fees).

    Though you have told that 4 months of preparation is more than enough, I am putting in an extra effort(3 more months)because I cannot further stretch my MBA plans.

    Please revert!

    Like

  17. Sameer P says

    Re posting the above comment because there is a typo error in my Work Ex. My current work ex is 3.5 years (41 Months)
    Hi Tony,

    I am a Mechanical Engineer and have 3.5 years of works experience in Technical Sales. My scores are X-89%, XII-82% & BE-67%.I want to pursue an MBA in Sales & Marketing.
    Currently I have resigned from my Job and my last working day is 31st March,2018. I will be appearing for CAT 2018. Considering my financial condition ,it is a make or break situation for me as I will be utilizing my savings for the next 6-7 months.
    Please guide me on how to properly utilize my next 6-7 months apart from CAT preparation so that this gap does not have an adverse effect on my profile. The only thing I cannot afford is a new learning activity that will consume my finances (I mean joining a new course by paying some fees).

    Though you have told that 4 months of preparation is more than enough, I am putting in an extra effort(3 more months)because I cannot further stretch my MBA plans.

    Please revert!

    Like

    • Hi Sameer,
      Thanks for writing in. Since you already have technical sakes experience, your profile is strong enough for Marketing.

      Take up an extensive NGO activity since it is considered important.

      If you can afford to do an online certification course on Coursera that will be an added advantage.

      All the best!

      Like

  18. Arun Yadav says

    Hi Tony,

    I appeared for CAT-2017 and got 79.99 percentile overall with VARC:77.47; LRDI:80.41;Quant:77.28. I am from OBC-NCL category.
    10th:92%; 12th:78.33%;Btech(Instrumentation & control engineering):2010-14: 72.79%

    I have been working in IBM from May,2015 to till date. My work ex has been in IT specifically in SAP-Logistics and supply chain management.

    I have got calls from IIML-Sustainability management:WAT-PI is done. Also I have interview for CAP process on 6th March for 9 IIMs. But I haven’t prepared for WAT-PI sincerely at all. Honestly I don’t feel I have a bright chance this year. Moreover, I only appeared for CAT and no other exam.

    I resigned from my job yesterday because I want to appear for CAT and other exams as well once again and score good 95+ percentile and get into a good top IIM. Provided there is a notice period of 3 months in my company so technically I would be serving IBM until 28th May,2018.

    I am clear in my head that I want to do an MBA. But still feel stuck sometimes because many people say that you prepare while working and withdraw your resignation.

    Please can you guide me.

    Thanks in advance!!

    Arun Yadav

    Like

    • Hi Arun,

      Since you will have 3 years of work-ex, quitting your job and prepping for the CAT is not an issue. I have had many students who have taken a break and made it to IIMs.

      Take the break, prep for CAT, work with an NGO and do a few online certifications.

      If you had less than 2 years I would have asked you to work and prep but in your case you already have the requisite work-ex.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  19. Sarika says

    Hi…I have 91.2 in Xth, 86 in XII and 8.68CGPA in BTech…Have 15 months work experience in an MNC..I did quit my job for prepring for UPSC nut couldnt clear UPSC mains…now I have a career break of 16 months…if I do write CAt 2018 and score well,will that affect my Bschool admission??

    Like

    • Hi Sarika,
      A longish gap has to be explained, but I don’t think in itself it will be something that will be held against you.

      If you clear the test and have a shot at the interview then you have a good shot as long as you can prove that you have the traits and the right reasons to do an MBA. You can link you interest and skills in administration to make a case for UPSC and MBA.

      All the best!

      Like

  20. Swati Maheshwari says

    Hi Tony,

    I have 33 months of work exp in startups. Last Year in March 2017 I resigned for the preparation of CAT 2017 but was not able to get good percentile ( 73.19 %ile, scored poorly in LI/DR section). This year I am planning to give CAT 2018. Is it wise to take 2 years of gap after 33 months of work experience for the preparation.I want to do MBA in Operations.
    Profile :
    X – 87.17%
    XII- 83%
    Graduation( B.Tech) – 80.8%
    Work exp – 33 months

    Can you please suggest any certification courses.

    Thanks in advance.

    Swati Maheshwari

    Like

    • Hi,
      While 33 months is a sizeable work ex, a gap of 2 years will be quite hard to justify.

      You have to either take up a job again or take up a major certification such as FRM, which though not directly related to Operations can give your resume a major boost. You would also need to take up work with an NGO and may be learn a foreign language as well.

      You can’t tell the panel that you spent an entire two years just preparing for the CAT.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  21. venkat says

    Hi Tony,
    I am a Mining Engineeer [ IIT(BHU),Varanasi ], B.tech pass out in 2017. I gave CAT in 2016 during my final year of graduation and secured 93 percentile.I have joined an IT company in July 2017, and currently still working . I gave CAT in 2017 and secured 95 percentile [General Category]. I want to do MBA from top IIM’s. I am in a dilemma now and need your valuable suggestion. I don’t want to take any chance now and want to focus on preparing CAT by resigning for the job in July 2018 after getting 1 year of work experience. But I am getting advice from some people to attempt CAT in 2018 while still continuing in job.I dont want to stretch my MBA plans further than 2018.
    I want your valuable guidance here on what decision to be made .
    And If I resign my job ,upto what extent in my case it will have effect in interviews?

    10th – 89%
    12th – 95%
    Graduation – 83%

    please can you guide
    Thank You

    Like

    • Hi Venkat,
      The first thing as I mentioned in the blog is the domain you want to specialise and start your career in.

      If it is IT then you should work and get atleast 20 months of work ex by the time of joining the b-school.

      If it’s not IT then the work-ex will only be useful in some cases for admission where weightage is given to work-ex such as B, L and K. This means that if you quit you have to score around the early 99s, to get a call from these schools, which you anyways have to, to get a call from A and C.

      But the irrelevant same work-ex will hurt you if you want to build a career in Marketing since marketing recruiters prefer freshers.

      For Finance and Ops what matters is the relevant work-ex or certifications.

      So your call to quit has to be based mainly on the domain you want to work in post your MBA.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

      • venkat says

        Hi Tony,
        Thanks for your valuable suggestion.
        What I want to know is
        1)Will be there any negative impression among the interview panel if I leave my job for CAT
        preparation?
        2) I am very much interested in Finance domain but as I have mentioned earlier, I am a mining
        engineer graduate with work experience in IT sector for 1 year.
        So what type of certifications in finance you are talking about?
        3)Does doing any certification courses in COURSERA related to finance helps?
        Can you also suggest me any basic finance courses in coursersa to do?

        Thank You.

        Like

  22. Mayur Bodake says

    Hello sir, I am a mechanical engineer (2017 batch passout) and currently working in IT Industry as a tester. I don’t like my job. I am working there since last two months and i do not wish to continue. I want to pursue MBA. I have not prepared for CAT before. Should I leave my job to prepare solely for CAT 2018?? Plzz reply

    Like

  23. Mayur Bodake says

    Repost (modified)

    Hello sir, I am a mechanical engineer (2017 batch passout) and currently working in IT Industry as a tester. I don’t like my job. I am working there since last two months and i do not wish to continue. I want to pursue MBA. I have not prepared for CAT before. Should I leave my job to prepare solely for CAT 2018??

    10th – 97%
    12th-87%
    Graduation – 67%
    2017 batch passout

    Like

    • Hi Mayur,

      If you don’t want to work in IT then it’s okay to quit and prepare for MBA.

      But as mentioned in the post you should have a clear plan of all the things you intend to take up to improve your profile, kickstart the same and then quit.

      All the best!

      Like

  24. Abhisekh Mukherjee says

    Hi Tony,

    I am currently working in IT domain having 12 months of work ex. Was able to get 97 percentile in cat 17. Because of work pressure and long hourse I feel that I am not able to give my full concentration towards my preparation. I want to quit my job by may end so that I would get 6 months before cat 18. What do you suggest ? Also what can I take up during those 6 months considering I want to takeup information management or general management during my management course.

    Like

    • Hi Abhishek,

      18-20 months of work-ex should be fine. So you can quit accordingly.

      During the 6 months since you are looking at IM or General Management, take up Coursera certification programs in Analytics. It will hold you in good stead for both.

      Also, take up a stint with a NGO since that has almost become a must-have on a resume.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

      • ABHISEKH MUKHERJEE says

        Hi Tony,

        By june i would be having a total of 14 months of work ex and not 18. So will that suffice ?

        Regards,
        Abhisekh

        Like

      • Hi Abhishek,

        14 months will be slightly on the lower side if you ask me with respect to lateral placements since it is only just above a year.

        So you will not really be having enough work ex for firms to look at giving you senior roles in IM.

        Hope this clarifies.

        Like

  25. Tej says

    Hi,
    I am 2017 batch passout(engineering). And I am not working anywhere. I am planning to appear for CAT 2018. As there would be gap of 1.5 years until CAT’18, I am very confused about justifying the gap in my profile. I am planning to go for an internship. Please help me in this regard. And give some suggestions about what could be done??
    What difficulty would I face even if I get good percentile.

    10th- 95%
    12th-85%
    Graduation-66%
    Category – physically handicapped

    Like

    • Hi Tej,
      Your overall chances are high because of the category.

      Since the GAP is big, you would have to justify it in every interview. So while the direct quantitative impact will be that you do not get marks for work-ex for colleges that give a weightage, such as IIM-B.

      The indirect impact will be in the PI marks depending on how well you justify the same.

      You should take up internships, relevant to the area you want to specialise in. You should also take up certification courses on Coursera and an NGO stint.

      So you will have three things to talk about.

      All the best!

      Like

  26. rishabh bhandari says

    Hi Tony,

    I am currently working in JK Cements ltd. as a Graduate Engineer Trainee. Its been 7 months since I’ve joined here. I completed my B.tech in 2017 in chemical Engineering and have appeared for Cat twice( 16′ &17′), scoring around 85 %ile both times.

    10th :- 91.2%
    12th :- 86%
    Graduation :- 69.4%

    I am planning to quit my job after completing my training period i.e. in july, as working in a manufacturing plant is tiring and I don’t get the correct motivation to study. Plus, I don’t want to remain in core technical field anymore.
    Should I really quit???? Or should I focus more on other MBA entrance exams?
    Also, should I take some online certification courses parallel with my job?

    I am really confused.

    Like

    • Hi Rishabh,

      As I mentioned in the post, the value of your work-ex depends a lot on the area you want to work in later.

      If you want to work in Operations then you should not quit your job and get the two years of work ex since Ops roles need prior work-ex similar to yours.

      If you want to work in Marketing or Finance, your work-ex will not be relevant and hence quitting your job to prepare will not be a bad option.

      As discussed you can’t only be preparing for CAT, taking up relevant online certification programs on Coursera and working with an NGO are a few things you can take up.

      Apart from the CAT, you should anyway take XAT, IIFT, NMAT and SNAP. Whether you should focus only on these and exams such as CMAT and CET depends upon how much you prepared for the CAT in your first two attempts and whether you think you have the capability to crack it if you Prep well. If you feel it you gave it your best in your first two attempts and can’t improve then focus only on the other tests and may be you wouldn’t need to quit your job. But that is a call you need to take based on your evaluation of your capabilities and prep so far vis-a-vis these tests.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  27. Shoaib Shariff says

    Hi Tony,

    Great blog post and it is really nice to see that you reply individually to all comments.

    I am a 2015 Chemical Engineering graduate (Dual Degree) from IIT Kharagpur with 32 months of work-ex till date in a pharmaceutical company (operations roles).
    I wish to work in the FMCG, pharma or Chemical industries in strategy roles after an MBA.

    10th- 92%
    12th- 96%
    CGPA- 8.6

    2018 would be my first CAT attempt and I would be attempting it without quitting my job. I wanted your guidance on whether it is possible to get strategy roles from IIMs. Also what courses/ certifications could I do to enhance my profile?

    Most importantly I would like some guidance on how to approach my CAT preparation while working to ensure a good chance of doing well.

    Your comments would really help.

    Like

    • Hi Shoaib,

      Glad you found the post useful.

      You have a pretty good profile.

      32 months is may be a bit on the higher side since you the time you join you will have almost 4 years of work ex. So essentially you have to crack CAT this year.

      An MBA from an IIM will definitely give you roles with a direct business impact and which require you strategise within that role. Pure strategy roles will follow only much later.

      The Wharton business foundations courses on Coursera are not a bad investment to get an overview as well as a certification. Also, do take up an NGO stint on weekends.

      Since it is your first attempt, and one that you need to crack I think it will help if you have a mentor.

      Let me know which city you are in and I’ll try to get you in touch with someone.

      Just go through the old posts on the blog and you should be able to find prep guidance.
      All the best!

      Tony

      Like

      • Shoaib Shariff says

        Thanks for the reply, Tony.
        Is it very difficult to get into IIMs with more than 3 years of work-ex?

        I work in Chennai.
        It would be great if you could get me touch with someone as you suggested.
        Thanks.

        Shoaib

        Like

      • Hi Shoaib,

        At Chennai you can call up the IMS Adyar centre and fix up a meeting with either Sateesh sir or Jayadev sir citing my reference.

        All the best!

        Like

  28. Ayush says

    Hi Tony,
    Really appreciate your commendable work. Some good insights and facts out there which were new and important to me.

    I aim at taking CAT 2018 which will be my first attempt. Following is my profile in brief:
    Class 10: 96.4%
    Class 12: 90.0%
    B.E Production: 8.41/10
    Work Experience: Completing 24 months in June 2018

    I have started preparing and from what I gather, preparing with my job in parallel would be tough for me. I am considering quitting my job by April end (thus completing 24 months work exp. by June with 2 months of notice period)

    A couple of things I am seeking your views on:

    1. Post MBA, will the recruiters be apprehensive about this employment gap? If the college starts from say May-June 2019, then in that case I would have a substantial gap of around an year

    2. Your write up mentions things that students took up to add weight to their resume during the employment gap like social work with NGOs, online courses, etc. How safe is this option to defend this gap during MBA interviews given there would be a lot of such candidates doing the exact same thing?

    Like

    • Hi Ayush,

      Glad you found the post useful.

      To answer your specific queries:

      1. There is no way that this gap will affect your chances post MBA. I had a student who had a year-gap, joined IIM-L had a McKinsey summer placement and got into Deloitte in the finals.

      2. Very few people take up two to three activities and pursue them seriously. Most people just prepare for the CAT; you have to make a good case for it saying that you wanted professional and personal growth and hence you took up these things. It is more likely that they will ask you questions about the courses you did to test whether you really learnt anything.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  29. Rahul says

    Hello Tony Sir,
    I am an electrical engineer with 22 months workex in TCS in Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning. I had quit my job last year in July end to prepare for Cat 17. I will be joining Sibm Pune this year. I have and interest in operations. I wanted to ask whether my workex in IT field will have a severe impact on my future placements and prospects if I chose operations?

    Like

    • Hi Rahul,

      It depends on the profiles the firms visiting SIBM for Ops are looking for. If you can make a pitch through your resume that you were working in project management and not just doing coding you should be fine. But as it is IT might not be a direct fit for Operations.

      All the best!

      Like

  30. Hey Tony,
    Your blog is a great source of wisdom and motivation and I really wish I had stumbled upon it sooner. Nevertheless, I’m here now 🙂

    I’m a 2017 BCom graduate from H.L. College of Commerce, Ahmedabad.
    Std X (ICSE): 93%
    Std XII (CBSE): 93%
    BCom: 75.7%
    The entirety of 2017 is already a gap year for me in which I “prepared” for management exams and missed quite a few great colleges by 0.xx percentile. I’ve converted SIIB, but its reputation has been declining steadily over the years and it does not seem like a good option to invest in as of now.

    I have started a job as a content analyst at a software recommendation platform. Will it count as relevant work experience by the time admissions roll around next year? Is it justifiable? And will the gap year affect my profile negatively? I want to specialise in HR or Finance.

    Thanks a lot.

    Like

    • Hi Sanskrit,

      Glad you find the blog useful :-).

      As long what you have a is a full-time paid work experience, with salary slips, it will count as relevant work experience. You will have to explain the gap year, saying that you were looking at a different job profile from what was available and were also exploring your MBA options.

      You know that for Finance you have relevant education background but you must take up some certification programs to bolster your profile.

      For HR the relevant background is a bachelors in humanities but very few people have it. So if you clear the test and show the traits required for an HR professional it should be fine.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Thanks a lot for taking the time out to respond!
        Yes, it is a full time 8 hours-a-day job. I hope you can provide some pointers to people with full time jobs on how to manage the few hours we have left in the day for CAT prep.
        Are old IIM calls likely given my academic background? My main targets are FMS and JBIMS, for which I know I’ll need 99+ and 99.99 in CAT and CMAT/CET respectively (since I fall under the OMS category).
        Can you recommend any online certifications that I can get for finance which would be considered legitimate and would add value? I cannot take up something like CFA right now because of the job.

        Thanks!

        Like

      • Hi Sanskrit,

        I know it is tough to manage work and your prep for CAT. It is primarily a case of managing your energies well and picking time slots for preparation that will not be affected by extended working hours if any. I will do a post on the same since I am sure there are many people who are facing the same issues.

        You have a shot at the old IIMs since you have academic diversity and great X and XII marks; I think you should get at the least 4 out of the 6.

        I think one thing you should get clarity on is HR or Finance since no two specialisations as different from each other as these two.

        For Finance, as you now CFA and FRM are the two big certifications. Apart from these two, there is an ICAI certification, which might be easier to pull off. The one that you can definitely do is the NCFM certification offered by NSE, courses offered by Wharton on Courses, you can even look at certification programs offered by Pro-school but this would involve attending classroom sessions.

        Hope this suffices.

        All the best!

        Like

  31. Shaurya Kumar says

    Hi Tony,

    Your blog is amazing, it is helping many people in taking a correct decision as how should they plan for their MBA.
    I am aiming for CAT 2018 and profile-
    Xth- 7.8 CGPA
    XIIth- 76%
    B.Tech Computer Science- 7.45 CGPA

    At present I am working with a fin tech company in IT industry. At present i have a experience of 18 months and i am planning to leave the organization and prepare full time for CAT. By the time i serve my notice period i would have an experience of 20 months.

    I am not much of a technical person and i don’t want to pursuit my career in IT in future.
    Please help me out with few doubts i had-

    1.Will the Gap in my resume create a hindrance for getting through with a top B school interview?
    2. Is 20 months of experience decent enough for a MBA if i want to change the industry.
    3.Will i be offered fresher’s role or lateral role once i am done with my MBA?
    4.Is 6 months of full time preparation enough for getting a good score in CAT?
    5.What other things should i do while preparing for CAT as to justify the Gap.

    Thanks for help.Keep up the good work.

    Thanks & Regards
    Shaurya Kumar

    Like

    • Hi Shaurya,

      Glad you found the blog useful. The idea of the blog itself stemmed from wanting to help students out with issues beyond QA, DI and VA. Also, I found myself handling the same queries over and over again in person and when one has more than 1000 students to handle it becomes really time-consuming. The blog was a way of reaching out to a larger audience faster.

      With respect to your specific queries:

      1. The gap is something that you will have to justify since they will end up asking about it — it will be the elephant in the room. But I have had many students clearing the old IIMs despite the gap since they made a cogent case for why quitting was the best option and how it helped their profile.

      2 & 3. As I said, 20 months is substantial work ex. Eligibility for laterals depends upon the institute’s policy. IIM-A decides it based on the median work-ex of the batch that year, B has a fixed 22-month policy. 24 months will cover all eventualities, 20 months will be borderline.

      4. 6 months of full-time prep is more than enough to crack CAT, given that you will have 8-10 hours a day.

      5. You should go through the blog post titled How to build your profile for MBA; it gives you a list of things to do. Take up three things — some form of certifications or online courses related to the specialization you are looking at, NGO experience especially teaching can be useful, the third one can be strong passion/interest that you always wanted to pursue — music or language, or a self-improvement program to work on your communication by joining Toastmasters. The blog post will explain these things in detail.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  32. umang says

    Hi Sir,

    Thanks for the blog !!
    This is my profile:
    X – 85%, XII – 83%, B.E – 8.12 CGPA
    Current role in marketing B2B company(Godrej & Boyce) with 20 months of experience. (24 months will be completed in mid-August)
    Planning to put down papers in this month & start intensive prep from Mid July(3 months notice period)

    Will 23 months of exp. be enough.
    Also, last year NMAT score was short of 7 marks to get Mum call. CAT never went well.
    Currently pursuing Digital Marketing to build my profile further.
    Please suggest.

    Thanks in advance.

    Like

    • Hi Umang,

      Glad you liked the post.

      23 months should be fine in terms of work ex. If you can do some NGO work and the Digital Marketing certification it should be good enough.

      Given that you crossed 200 in NMAT, it won’t, mid-July will be a enough to start prep.

      All the best!

      Like

  33. Yuvraj says

    Hi Sir,
    Your blog is really very helpful and enlightening.
    Here’s my profile
    10th – 89%
    12th – 71%
    Graduation engineering – 67%
    Category -NC -OBC
    By October 2018 , I would be having 26 months of experience in TCS..

    1)Should i leave my current job 1 month before CAT , and then pursue online certifications in finance and part time NGO (After November )? Or will this gap negatively affect my profile. ?

    2)Also, what are my chances for top IIM’s with this profile and good CAT percentile ?
    I want to be in core finance.

    Like

    • Hi Yuvraj,

      Glad you found the blog useful.

      Since you XII and Grad marks are low, the old IIMs will not be easy to crack since NC-OBC is a pretty competitive category. If all marks were above 80, or at least two, then a percentile of around 96 will have guaranteed calls from all old IIMs. So your best shot will be the new IIMs or schools such as FMS and IIFT — both of which are good for Finance.

      As I wrote in the post, once you cross 24 months of work-ex, the gap is not an issue, provided you are able to convince them that it was the best thing you could have for your career at that point but expanding both your knowledge and your experiential base.

      So there will on be any negative effect as long as you take up things to do and speaks about them well.

      All the best!

      Like

  34. ANKIT VERMA says

    Hi Tony,
    I am a mechanical engineer(2015 passout). I have worked in a core manufacturing MNC. Last year, in april 2017 i left my job having total work experience of around 20 months. But in CAT 2017 i didn’t scored well as expected. Now, i want to give one more attempt for CAT in 2018. so
    1- will it create a nagative impact having 2 years of gap alongwith 20 months of work experience?

    2- Please suggest some certifications and internships to add value to my CV.

    3- Although i have experience in core manufacturing, but i want to pursue MBA in finance. what certifications in FINANCE should i do so that it will add value during placements?
    4- If i pursue MBA in finance having certifications, will my previous 20 months work experience will be futile?

    Please suggest. i’m in huge dilemma.
    Thanks in advance.

    Like

    • Hi Ankit,

      A 2-year gap is a definite problem. So if you want to take another shot then you have to take up a job. There is no way to justify a 2-year break.

      If you want to do an MBA in Finance then the best thing you can take up is the CFA, there are a few other less impressive options, which are good from a b-school interview perspective to demonstrate an interest in Finance but not to get Finance shortlists during b-school placements. You can read about those other options in the post on how to build your profile.

      Your previous work experience is not necessarily futile since you will get whatever marks are awarded for work ex in the selection process.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  35. ANKIT VERMA says

    Hi Tony,
    Thanks for your valuable suggestion.
    I have one more query-
    1- If i do certification in finance, learn a foreign language and also work with an NGO. will all these things compensate the 2 year gap or still there will be problem? (In case i don’t take a job)
    2- can i take NCFM or financial modelling in place of CFA?
    Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi Ankit,

      The thing is not what you did in the two years. They will question why you couldn’t do this on the side while working. If it was a 6-month thing from June to December where you did CAT Prep as well on the side, it is fine but to do it for 2-years becomes indefensible.

      In terms of impact on resume, it would be CFA first, Financial modeling next and NCFM last.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

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