There is no doubt in the fact that the exam needs hard work and a large dollop of luck. Historically, IAS is touted to be the toughest exam we have in the country and people put in their blood and sweat for the preparation.
t is believed that candidates migrate to Delhi to prepare full-time for IAS, spending hours every day and a huge amount of money in terms of fees and other expenses. However tough the task may seem to be to manage studies while working, some people have managed both.
Can a Working Professional Ever Become an IAS Officer?
This is one of the most often asked questions and a source of consternation among working professionals preparing for the IAS Exam. If you’re facing this problem, you’ll be relieved to hear that you’re not alone.
Many working professionals are studying for the IAS Exam, and some have even succeeded in passing the world’s most difficult recruiting test by pure hard work and commitment.
But, as the saying goes, hard work without a strategy is like driving a Ferrari without a steering wheel; therefore, if you plan to take the IAS exam while working, your plan will be just as crucial as your hard work.
Stories of Working Professionals
Ms Pujya Priyadashni
Ms Pujya Priyadashni (AIR 11, CSE 2018) is a Delhi University B. Com (Hons) graduate. She later earned a master’s degree in public administration from Colombia University in the United States. She then went on to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international accounting business that provides professional services through a network of firms, and then the Reliance Foundation. Ms Pujya studied for CSE while working for a company that was adamant about its job standards. She passed the IAS exam on her third attempt. Sociology was her optional.
Mr GSS Praveen Chand
Mr GSS Praveen Chand (AIR 64, CSE 2018) is an IAS success storey who has inspired a lot of people. Mr Praveen, an Electrical Engineer from IIT Patna (the year 2013), has attempted the UPSC Civil Service Exam three times.
In 2017, he was recruited for the Indian Information Service after achieving 512 ranks in his second attempt (IIS). He studied for CSE for three years while working as a Tech Lead in a software company. Mathematics was an optional subject for him.
Mr Raushan Kumar
Mr Raushan Kumar (AIR 114, CSE 2018) aced the Civil Services Exam in his fourth attempt.
He obtained his engineering degree in 2010 and was recruited by JSW Steel Ltd during campus placement interviews, where he began working in October 2010. Mr Raushan spent over nine years with the same company. He continued to prepare and attempt CSE while working. Sociology was his optional.
Mr R Vaithinathan
In his fourth attempt, Mr R Vaithinathan (AIR 37, CSE 2015) received AIR 37. His success is all the more impressive given that he was working as a doctor in a Delhi hospital while studying for the CSE.
Despite parental opposition to him changing his career path because he was a gold medalist in medical school, he pursued his desire of joining the civil service. Sociology for optional for him.
Mr Nitin Sangwan
Mr Nitin Sangwan (AIR 28, CSE 2015) is from Charkhi Dadri, a small town in Haryana. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and then an MBA from IIT Chennai. He joined Infosys in 2012 after completing his PG and began studying for the CSE at the same time. When he finally cracked the IAS in his fourth attempt in 2015, he had been married for four years and had a three-year-old daughter. Sociology was his optional.
Ms Mittali Sethi
Ms Mittali Sethi (AIR 56, CSE 2016), is an orthodontist who had started studying for CSE while working. She began studying in 2014 and passed the exam in her third attempt, despite having failed to pass the Prelims in her previous two attempts. Psychology was her optional.
Ms Bandana Pokhriyal
Ms Bandana Pokhriyal (AIR 83, CSE 2015) worked as a Central Excise Inspector for roughly five years before her second attempt at the IAS. She had spent two and a half years working while studying for the Civil Services. Anthropology was her optional.
Dr Ravindra Goswami
Dr Ravindra Goswami (CSE 152, CSE 2015) completed his MBBS in Jaipur and went on to work as a Medical Officer in a remote Rajasthan district. He realised his calling for Civil Services while working and began preparing. While studying for CSE, he was simultaneously doing post-graduate studies (MD). In his second effort, he was successful. Medical Science was his optional.
Challenges for a Working Professional
The preparation for IAS is a strenuous one and lack of touch with studies can make you lose out on basics, thereby making the study very challenging.
There exists constraint of time, which can be very challenging for the working professionals hence they cannot devote full time on their studies.
There is always a location constraint for working professionals. Working full time can restrict you from the connectivity, so it becomes a little tedious to manage these things along with the office.
Preparation of IAS requires a certain dynamic environment. Being in the office, you need to study alone, rather than in a studious environment, which can be a little challenging.
UPSC Has a Vast Syllabus, But Maybe Not!
UPSC is an exam for everyone out there, irrespective of the field you come from, whether it is humanities, medical, engineering, business. It does not target a specific field of students. An engineering student can score more in technology and maths, while a medical student will score more in Biology. So, know your focus points, and work on them.
It is a myth to be bust that IAS officers/aspirants should know everything about every topic/subject under the sun. The exam does not require one to be an expert in a topic; rather, aspirants should have general awareness and analytical skills.
The Cutoff is NOT 100% it is 60% for UPSC, hence, the target can never be 100% to crack the exam. One can clear cutoff by knowing everything about 50%, current affairs for the rest 50%.
Honsistency is Scored Over Long Hours
Let’s face it. No one can study for 10 hours per day for an extended period if you are working for the UPSC exam. To complete the entire syllabus you need 3 hours of daily study. Knowing you have 300 days for the exam, that is 900 hours and it is enough for you to go through.
When an unavoidable occasion comes up, and the study is interrupted, you can always cover it up over the weekend. Most people are not able to follow this discipline every day. Make sure that you maintain consistency.
Study Planning Over Book Cramming
It is always better to understand and study through certain books and notes for cracking IAS. Going through the online suggested lists of books can confuse you and take you in the wrong direction. It takes time to get internalized as you are going to study many new topics. There are no officially prescribed books by UPSC; just topics mentioned. Choose a source that gives you basic in-depth descriptors.
Understanding over Fact-finding
In the last 5 years, UPSC has shifted towards understanding rather than knowledge of facts and dates.
Your questions will be based on your ability to interpret current events and link them to concepts of economics, polity, culture, history. This means the focus is on analysis of what you read rather than memorizing it.
In conclusion, while choosing a preparatory material always go for in-depth analysis rather than vast coverage
Chose a Study Mode that Offers Suits Your Requirement
Go for a UPSC online course that offers excellent video lectures by a qualified faculty. Make sure you see samples and affirm that emphasis is on analysis rather than covering a lot of content in one go.
It is very essential to keep yourself updated with the latest buzz around. In today’s world of digital learning, it has become a little easier to keep yourself updated with the day to day news. Make sure your course gives you current affairs material.
Make sure your online course offers your mentoring and doubt solving and discussion support at all times, which is available 24/7 and allows you to discuss online with your mentors for your UPSC preparation.
At first glance, managing professional obligations and test preparations at the same time may appear difficult, but time management, smart planning, skilled, professional assistance, and perseverance can make all the difference.
For a working professional, the most obvious constraint is time. Other concerns, such as social responsibilities, family commitments, and professional obligations, exist in addition to time constraints. All of these will be there throughout your life, but the task is to overcome and overcome them for an amazing prize that can transform the path of your life.
Preparing for IAS while working is seemingly hard but the journey is very much possible once you decide to undertake it. Do so today.
Good Luck!Also Read: Wet Bulb Temperature UPSC: Why is This Trend All Over The News?