Shashank Agarwal was in his second year of engineering college when he had to start, and run a dhaba to sustain his family. In 2017, the Indore resident cracked CAT with 98.01 percentile, and has been admitted into Indian Institute of Management-Rohtak’s PGP course this year.
Agarwal, who is 25-year-old, says he lost his father when he was an infant and his grandfather’s pension supported the family. After completing his schooling, he got admission in an engineering college in Indore. However, he was in the second year of his course when his grandfather passed away, and the family’s finances were in trouble.
LIVE UPDATE | ICAI CA IPCC Intermediate Result 2018
Agarwal says he realised that the burden of paying for his education and his family’s expenses had landed on his shoulders. So he borrowed Rs 50,000 and started a dhaba for students in his hometown. “Bhawar Kuan Square in Indore is a hotspot, as many competitive exam coaching centres operate from here. I rented a small joint and hired five people, including a cook. Being a student myself, I realised the problems most of them face,” he says.
“We offered unlimited food at Rs 50. This idea worked well as we received positive feedback, and within some time, I was earning a profit of Rs 30,000 a month,” he says. To make sure his studies didn’t suffer, Agarwal ensured he maintained a balance between working at the dhaba and coursework. Agarwal says he would wake up at 6 am to buy vegetables from a local market. After helping the dhaba’s staff set up the kitchen, he would rush off to college. In the evening, he would work at the dhaba till 11 pm.
“This venture helped me understand how to sell and market things. I realised my true calling is not engineering, but management,” he says. After graduation, Agrawal joined a start-up in Hyderabad followed by an education technology company in Indore. “We were developing content for various competitive exams, including the Common Admission Test (CAT). So I was simultaneously preparing for the exam,” Agrawal says.
Being an engineering student, Agarwal says the Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) section of the exam was comparatively easy for him. To prepare for the Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section, he began reading novels and preparation material online. So what’s his tip for other aspirants to crack the exam? “A candidate should first analyse sections they need to work on and give themselves at least three months to prepare for CAT,” he says.