Before I begin, let me give you a brief introduction of myself. I am from North Lakhimpur, Assam. It is a beautiful little town in the northeastern part of the country. I did my schooling (up to 10th) in my hometown and then went to Kota to prepare for IITJEE. After 2 years of hard work, I cracked JEE Advanced 2013 with an AIR of 37. Then I did my B.Tech in Computer Science from IIT Bombay. After I passed out in 2017, I worked for about a year as a computer programmer in Bangalore. During that time, I appeared for CAT, got into IIM Indore, and then completed my MBA in the year 2020.
Like most of you guys, I also loved physics since childhood. School books were never adequate, I had to go through lots of other books to learn new things and expand my universe. I passed my 10th in 2011, so this is the pre-Internet era. There were no smartphones then, Internet existed but it was a luxury good inaccessible in many areas of the country. Books, solid and printed was the main source of knowledge (I believe it is even today). During that time, I did read about Einstein’s Special theory of relativity and the concept of time dilation. It was fascinating to think that time is relative. I learned to do basic calculations of projectile motion. It was amazing how one can so easily predict the motion of a moving ball. I did not know if it was Newton or Einstein, the books, or the nature around me that made me fall in love with physics since my school days.
Those JEE days…
Doctor or engineer, those were the only options, right? Well, that’s what I thought. Both my parents are doctors, so rule that one out. To become an engineer, more precisely an IITian, I had to clear JEE. But there were no coaching classes in my hometown then. While I was in 10th Class, I had heard of Kota, I was a bit skeptical too, but I thought I would give it a try.
After my 10th board exams, I appeared for the entrance test of Vibrant Academy, Kota. My self-study was good enough and I was among the top 10 rankers all over India. I got into the top batch of Vibrant Academy and they also offered me a monthly scholarship. It was a pretty good start!
I don’t know about the current situation, but from my perspective Kota was great. I was in the best batch, surrounded by extraordinary students, and taught by the best faculty, the HODs themselves! My peers were really sharp; they were some exceptionally brilliant guys who used to solve the problem before I would even understand the question fully! The teachers were really good and it is to them I owe my basic foundation of physics. They helped me develop strong concepts and problem-solving skills. The classes were very interesting and the teachers always tried to explain even difficult concepts in a simple manner.
HC Verma was the book that was followed, I personally preferred Resnick-Halliday more, but both are equally great. We used to get problems of Irodov as homework and it was really tough solving them before the next class. It was very hectic; reading many books, doing huge piles of homework, and solving lots and lots of problems. I found Maths really hard, sometimes you get stuck at problems for a long, long time. Chemistry, especially Inorganic had lots of things to memorize. Then there were the board exams too. I was in a non-attending school, so boards were self-study too. But if you keep doing your part and do your hard work continuously, everything will surely turn out the way you wished. I even got 96.6 percentage in CBSE board exams! I secured full marks (120 out of 120) in JEE Advanced Physics paper. It was due to which I could secure an AIR of 37 in JEE advanced 2013. My total score was 291/360. During my coaching tests also, I always tried to secure as much as possible in the Physics part, and then do average in the other two (Chemistry & Maths).
A little tip for JEE Advanced aspirants: Make one subject really strong. Just choose your favorite subject, let it be Physics, Chemistry or Maths, anyone. Then score as much as you can in it. Allot a few more minutes to your favorite part. This will help boost up your total score.
Based on my Jee preparation and the monthly tests conducted by the coaching institute, I had always expected a decent rank. I thought maybe if I get under 500, I would be able to choose mechanical at IITB. During that time roughly 50 students got into the top 500 AIR from Vibrant Academy. I was in the top batch, so that was kind of expected. I thought maybe physics would be more associated with mechanical, so I felt an inclination towards it. After jee advanced exam was over, I did count my marks based on the answer key and then I realized I could get a rank under 100. Still, I thought IITB Mechanical, that’s it. But when you get a rank under 50, everything changes.
Your rank decides your branch, not your interest! I was so wrong
IITB Computer Science closes at about AIR 60. It would be totally foolish (as it seemed to me way then) not to choose Computer Science with a rank of 37. That exactly how I got into CS at IITB. Your rank decides your branch, not your interest! I was so wrong.
I even did not know that people do coding in Computer Science!
I would now say it openly, I never quite liked Computer Science. I did not know anything about coding before I got into IIT. I even did not know that people do coding in Computer Science! During the first semester, we had the basic course of programming and that was my first taste of coding. I thought if I would give it a try I may like it but over the course of the semester, my interest faded away. So I thought I would apply for a branch change. But the requirement for branch change was a minimum of 8 CPI after the second semester. The first semester was already over and my CPI was in the 7s. I did my best during the second semester to improve but the best I could do was 7.96, and hence, I was stuck with Computer Science.
The next 3 years went rather quickly. The courses were tough; my lack of interest did amplify their hardness. To say it frankly, I never tried hard enough. The labs and assignments were very time-consuming. They were the actual nightmares. And that you cannot copy your friend’s code (plagiarism issues) make it even worse! Apart from that, I totally enjoyed my college life. Lots of movies, gaming, TV series, YouTube, you name it. I was the guy who would play 16 hours of Skyrim during endsems! So, down the hill, my grades went rolling. A few backlogs accompanied along. I passed out only as a 6 pointer from IITB in the year 2017.
Work-life and CAT…
Nevertheless, 6 pointer or not, you do get a job from IITB Computer Science. That is one of the perks that come along with the tag. I joined as a computer programmer in Bangalore. This was at the phase of my life when I was completely lost on what to do next. I had the following options:
- Continue my job, get promoted, switch jobs, get a fatter payslip. It does seem right. Well, for starters, I neither liked coding nor the job in the first place. Despite my B. Tech degree, I don’t have any basic knowledge of Computer Science. I wanted to expand my knowledge horizon and pursuing higher education seems the way ahead.
- Why not M.Tech? Or MS abroad? The reason seems clear. I didn’t want to do anything with Computer Science!
- Why not physics? Well, the thought of going back to physics had occurred to me. In fact, I always wanted to do that since my IIT days. But I was unsure of myself. I did not have any self-confidence. Then there was the question, what would “people” say? From IITB Computer Science to Physics! Today I am in a position where I can say that I love physics and that is why I want to do physics. Unfortunately, that was not the case back then. I loved physics but I was not bold enough.
- So what do “people” do after B.tech? Well, MBA of course. MBA helps you escape from engineering or any other past mistakes and helps you get better packages and a successful career path. With MBA, I could escape from Computer Science and coding, and still “people” would be praising me for being an IIT-IIM combo. So MBA it is. Soon after joining the job, I had begun preparing for CAT. After few months of self-study, I managed to secure 99.34 percentile in CAT 2017. But the struggle was far from over. Actually, the interviews were quite tough and my 6 pointer academics did hurt a little. You require about 95 percentile to get into IIM Indore for General-Engineer-Male, for females/non-engineer it is even less. Yet, I was exactly the LAST person on the waiting list of IIM Indore. Luckily, I managed to get in. A little tip for CAT aspirants: Do your best in CAT. A good CAT score is needed to clear the cut-offs of many institutes. But remember the real fight is in the interviews and how good your previous academics are. Interviewers can throw totally random questions, and you got to answer them as an MBA guy would!
An MBA degree truly helps to develop one’s overall personality. I wanted to do MBA to grow my knowledge. Yes, I did learn a lot of things about economics, finance, operations, marketing, etc. but the best part of it is that MBA boosted up my self-confidence and made me realize my true potential. The Indore Campus is a very beautiful place. It is situated away from the city on the top of a hillock and the sunsets there are really amazing. The infrastructure is great; the hostels are top-notch. Some hostel rooms can be even compared with hotel rooms! Even the mess food is decent enough if I compare it with my past experiences of mess-food. The first semester is quite hectic as we have to prepare for summer placements. Apart from that, the other semesters are quite relaxing. The coursework is pretty easy. In fact, it is almost impossible to fail a course unless you fall short of attendance. I quite liked economics courses (most engineers do). They are good for scoring as they involved mathematics. Group discussions and interviews were initially never my thing, but over the course of time, I became quite decent in them.
That was the time of my life! I visited around 15 countries; from the Alps of Switzerland to the canals of Amsterdam, from the Arctic circle in Finland to the islands of Greece, and across the European landscape through superfast trains.
Campus life is great, and you get to meet people with diverse backgrounds. After the end of my first year, I did my summer internship in Hyderabad in the domain of digital marketing. The best thing that ever happened to me was the Students Exchange Program. I went to Europe as an exchange student at IESEG School of Management, Lille, France. That was the time of my life! I visited around 15 countries; from the Alps of Switzerland to the canals of Amsterdam, from the Arctic circle in Finland to the islands of Greece, and across the European landscape through superfast trains. I could even write a book describing my Europe trip but I guess, that is for another time. After I came back from Europe, it was the last semester. The semester of final placements. Almost all IIMs have 100 percent placement. I too got a job offer. But is this what I really want to do? A job life seems like the obvious choice after MBA. A well-paid job is like a good car with infinite petrol. You do have to drive it, nevertheless, it will take you to most destinations ahead in your life. Driving it may be hectic and monotonous at times. Still, a good car will give you a safe and secure feeling. In simple words, one may use the term ‘settled’. But do I really want to get settled?
The Final Call…
There I was, at a crossroads once again. Well to most people there seems to be only the highway. You have the car, just drive along. In my perspective, there was this long, kind of boring, smooth road ahead and then there was another path, that goes deep into the jungle. This path is not at all smooth, the car cannot take it out through it. You have to travel by foot through this rocky path into the dark forest. You don’t know what dangers lie ahead, but it is also pretty exciting. It is an adventure for sure! Let me explain to you this crossroads of my life. The options are:
- The job (the car and the smooth highway). I knew this time would come even before the start of my MBA. Because MBA for me was an escape option. I didn’t properly plan the way ahead. I just went ahead with the flow and landed with a job offer. I was sort of ‘settled’ for life. But the best part of the journey looks like it already ended. This smooth road is not exciting enough. This is just not for me.
- Continue education. After MBA, I could try for FPM (Fellowship Program in Management) at any IIMs. Being an IIM-MBA graduate, it would be a bonus. I did like economics courses during my MBA and so a PhD in economics sounds right!
- But wait. Why economics? Why not physics?
I always wanted to do physics. Economics is a great subject, but if I were to choose between Physics and Economics, I would take Physics in a heartbeat. The second option is definitely ruled out. Physics is just amazing. I was the guy who had the books of Halliday-Resnick with me even during my MBA. While watching the TV series The-Big-Bang-Theory, I also dreamt of becoming a physicist. Schrödinger’s Cat excites me way more than Marketing Case studies. I always wondered what kind of a brilliant, extraordinary mind which Newton must have possessed at that time so that he could formulate the laws of physics more than 3 centuries ago! The thought ponders me if mankind will ever unlock all the secrets of the universe?
Physics is my love; it is my passion. It would be a regret of a lifetime if I walk away from this path.
Like most of you, my thinking travels along the lines of physics. If I were to get stuck at a monotonous job, it would be like using half of my brain. There is no fun when your mind is taking a nap. Physics is my love; it is my passion. It would be a regret of a lifetime if I walk away from this path.
So in the crossroads, this small path through the woods will lead me into the world of physics. I want to explore this forest because deep down I always knew, I am a person who belongs in the wild. The journey may be tough, but there are beautiful lakes and valleys, snow-capped mountains, and paradise islands ahead. These best destinations are often difficult to reach. The smooth highway won’t take me to where I want to go, I have to make my own way ahead. Is it too late to start doing physics? Maybe it is. But I do not care now. I was not bold enough a few years ago, but I am quite sure of myself now. I know what my heart wants. Thanks to MBA, it sure could not ‘settle’ me in a corporate life but it did open up my eyes to look ahead. I want to do physics, so I am going to do physics. It is as simple as that. It always was. I just could not see it then. So how do you start doing physics? Well, I found this blog, and half of my work is already done. It says you can do physics after engineering. So yes, you can do physics even after MBA.
I guess my preparation turned out quite great as it did help me get an AIR 1 in IITJAM Physics 2021. I would like to thank the entire PAE(now COS) community for inspiring me to take this career path. The blogposts not only helped me during my JAM preparation but also provided me with a better insight into the world of physics. And a very special thanks to Dushyanth Edadasula, the founder of this community.
For all IIT JAM aspirants: Practice all previous years’ questions. Time management is very important during the exam. If you get stuck at some question, leave it and come back to it later. Go through all the questions, don’t leave any unattended. There are always some easy scoring questions. Also, get used to the online calculator they provide in the exam. For IIT JAM preparation books, I would suggest you go through the following blog posts: List of books for JAM
Long story short, you can do physics after engineering. You can do physics after MBA. If you truly love physics, just dive into the world of physics. The metric of space-time around us is distorted with energy-momentum. I was sailing around this metric of space-time but I was unable to gravitationally bind to any other object because there was this black hole of physics that was constantly pulling me. So sometimes, you have to just let go. You can free fall across the event horizon because once you pass the horizon, there is no turning back.