Sometimes, I feel my mind is brimming with so many thoughts at once, that it really becomes difficult to figure out what I should write and what I shouldn’t. Having said that, I feel my life is an open book and therefore, I have the liberty to share all the intricacies of my day-to-day being.
The title of this post has really made a difference to my life. True to the core, I have experienced miracles in the most adverse situations. This time, it was on the professional front. Struggling through the corporate journey, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant which was again no less than a miracle. But the difficult part starts from here. Survival in a Big Four consultancy firm is no child’s play. I wanted to get rid of a job which was no more satisfying and which constantly gave me a feeling of being stuck at a wrong place. And hence, the struggle to find that perfect job began. In fact, this time I had a challenge thrown at me. Someone had challenged my capabilities, my commitment towards work and the grit to always excel in whatever I do. ‘What do you think you will be able to achieve post qualifying? You will still earn peanuts which will not be enough to buy a luxurious car or a lavish house!’. These words still rattle in my ears. It pierced me from within, more so because it came from someone whom I had considered as my mentor. It was difficult to digest such grey shades of a corporate life. But still, there was a constant fire under the belly to prove it all wrong.
So round of calls with the HR consultants began. I landed up for my first interview with another Big Four for a profile which was slightly linked to the kind of work I was already doing. I somewhat liked it, but was quite apprehensive because it was still a consulting job. I was able to impress the interviewer’s in the first instance. However, my current profile again overpowered my suitability for the job. Rounds of follow-ups with the HR, but no breakthrough. Interview I – crashed with a thud.
The second interview was for an industry profile in a top FMCG giant. All went well until the last round because of my ‘too frank’ attitude. I was somehow able to recall the scene from 3 Idiots – ‘Sir, aap apna job raklijiye, main apna attitude (‘Sir, you can keep your job, I will settle for my attitude’). Interview II- crashed with a louder thud.
The hunt continued with the third interview being scheduled with an extremely diversified Indian group known to recruit only those Chartered Accountants who were placed on the merit list of the Institute in the final exams i.e. ‘rank holders’. This particular organization was famous for paying a fat salary with the best perks. Probably, a job which a top B-school graduate would look forward to post completion of MBA. And here I was, someone who had cleared his finals in revaluation, was neither a rank holder nor had an MBA degree from a B-school. I was just SOMEONE. All throughout my educational pursuits, I have been a good student who was academically strong but not exceptional.
I was really apprehensive to even give a shot to this job. But still I filled up the preliminary information form, uploaded it on the consultant’s website and did not look forward to any call. After all, I was just SOMEONE. Why would someone pay a hefty monthly salary when people believed I was worth earning peanuts only? And while I was being shown the door in the second interview, pat came the consultant’s call ‘You have been shortlisted for the first round’. Okay. But I have not been given the job! So why this euphoria? Again went for the interview, but this time around I was getting tired and sick of explaining people about my profile, my ambition in life, why I want this job and how will I prove to be an asset to the organization. The first round was taken by very senior persons from the industry. I actually discovered, how difficult it is to convince people almost twice or thrice your age. Their year’s of wisdom, experience and knowledge defies your ‘fresh out of the school thoughts’. One week later, my phone rang ‘ Congratulations, you have sailed through! We are booking your tickets and accommodation for the final round in Kolkata’. Okay, but still there are a couple of rounds more to go and the job is still not mine! Not a good time for that euphoric feeling. The next thing I remember was flying to the City of Joy. For the first time in my life, I was all alone. The little boy in me had outgrown into a young confident professional. I was travelling to a place in the far east without my parents, without siblings and without friends. All alone. My nervousness reflected in the way I handled my baggage at the airport, collected my tickets from the check-in counter and sat throughout the flight. But I tried to maintain my poise. There was just one thing that went over and over in my mind, ‘this job belongs to me and it will be an answer to those who questioned my capabilities’.
Kolkata is a totally different city when compared to Delhi. Busy and narrow roads,extremely humid climate and still stuck in time. It had an old world charm. I managed to grab one of the famous yellow taxis at the Kolkata airport and reached the assigned accommodation late at night. Next day was a big day. Full day interviews. I reached the office which was in the heart of the city. To my utter shock, I was the only candidate who was shortlisted out of the ten odd candidates interviewed in Delhi for the first round. I was joined by four competitors from Mumbai and Pune respectively for the final rounds. There were three rounds lined up for the day followed by a last round with the CFO of the Company (only if you sailed through the earlier rounds). Each of the four competitors were well grounded professionals.They already possessed the necessary skill set and experience required for the job. But who was I? SOMEONE who has handled a niche consulting profile and who just wanted to win a challenge thrown at him sometime back. The interview was quite grilling. Three rounds of interview with three different people who were accomplished in their respective fields. I felt that I had given my best. But lady luck rarely shines bright at me. These four young budding professionals were far more sorted out than me, they were outspoken, well-groomed, level-headed and knew what they wanted.On the other hand, I was juggling with my cluttered life. I was still trying to find my way. I was still trying to solve my jigsaw puzzle. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. I wanted to go back to my home and just sleep.The HR personnel entered the room where all five of us were seated. One of the competing candidate was totally anti-Big Four. Unfortunately, he couldn’t appreciate a consultant’s life. Irony being, I myself couldn’t appreciate the same. How the hell in this world I could convince this guy when I myself wanted to get rid of it! The HR personnel settled down comfortably. ‘So, all of you have done pretty well. But for today, only Arpit has been selected’. What a joke, I mumbled to myself! This SOMEONE, who has been living a messed up life was selected against the clan of sorted professionals. I felt bad for them because their profile was far more suitable than my hollow consulting experience. Where was that euphoric feeling? Still missing! Because I still do not have the job. Next day, again, an interview. I had to meet the CFO of the company. This gentlemen was rated as one of the best CFO by Business Standard. Again, someone so senior both in age and experience. This man was known to hand-pick Chartered Accountants before he bought them on board. I google searched his profile while sitting in his lavish office. His Executive Assistant called me for the final interview. He simply threw some bouncer questions relating to my profile (ah!! finally, somewhere consulting profile helped, else I was told by one of the interviewer in my past interview with the FMCG giant not to give consultant type answers). But soon he realized that the googlies were getting too much. He smiled and said that those were too difficult questions. Thank God! Else he was giving me a minor panic attack with each of his googlies.
Finally, I managed to return to the visitor’s lounge and waited for the result. In – out, in -out…. playing that ‘she loves me, she loves me not’ game. HR came in. ‘You have sailed through’. What ? What? What the hell are you saying? This sounds like some alien language to me! So can I finally feel that euphoric moment? Yes, I could. She handed over the appointment letter. The CTC just bowled me. I had never seen so many zero’s in my life. What the hell? A miracle just happened again. This SOMEONE had actually achieved SOMETHING in his life. Honestly, I had tears in my eyes. I was sitting all alone in the room and just recalled the last few months of my life. How I failed, how I passed, how I was rejected and how I was finally ACCEPTED. The feeling did not sink in. But again a MIRACLE had happened. But there was something holding me back from signing the appointment letter, something was missing, something was wrong.
( To be continued…….)