30 April

How should I be sure of leaving my job for the UPSC CSE preparation?


Leaving a job to prepare for UPSC Exam is a very difficult choice to make. Here are some of the things that you may think about before making such a decision.

  1. Pause, reflectand ask why – please understand that what you’re essentially doing is seeking a “job change”. A career in the civil service is just another job. Please ask yourself why you want to do this job and not another. Try to understand the requirements of the job. Don’t let Lal battis (which are on their way out anyway) and the larger-than-life status mislead you into thinking that what awaits you is a Lala land. It isn’t. Understand the flip side by talking to people already in the service. For one, this career may be financially less rewarding than your previous job. I know people who earn less than the income tax they paid before resigning from their previous jobs. This may require serious lifestyle changes. Also, your reason for joining the civil services must be personal, strong and well thought out. By personal, I mean that the reason must not be the result of extrinsic factors. “My brother is a civil servant. I think I should be one too, so that my parents don’t think I’m an idiot”. When you don’t fully believe in the cause it’s difficult to do justice to it.
  2. Support System– emotional and financial. Cracking the exam requires generally requires a team effort (I know lone elephants who have done it as well, by they are few and far between them). This team is generally your family and inner circle of friends. They must support you emotionally through what can be a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. You must also be able to live a life that is financially comfortable. You may have to get ready to be frugal for the most part. Also, you must be comfortable asking your parents (or whoever) for extra cash for the occasional partying. Your friends must respect your new limitations, in terms of both the clock as well as the purse and not make any demands that may affect your peace of mind and preparation. Hence getting your family and inner circle of friends on board is absolutely critical before you quit your job to start UPSC prep.
  3. Can you put in the hours? Ask yourself if you will have it in you to sit down and study for long hoursafter being cut off from academics for since you left college. Going back to sitting in front of a table to read things you thought you had left behind for good perhaps a decade earlier can become very challenging for some. Most jobs in the world are about solving problems in one way or another. You get to see the results of the solutions you offer relatively quickly. UPSC prep on the other hand is a completely different ball game. You prepare for an exam that is a few months away. The syllabus is vast and you will feel that you’re making little progress. This can become quite disheartening. You may get overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. “Why am I learning this school level stuff, yet why am I not able to finish this quickly enough?” Prepare yourself for such situations.
  4. It’s risky business– even if you have given it your best, you may not crack this exam. You may have to write the exam more than once. You may have always stood first in class throughout your academic life. You may have landed the best campus placement from a prestigious B School. You may be the rockstar at your workplace. All this is no guarantee for quick success in UPSC CSE. So have the humility to understand that in a game of outrageous numbers, survival of the luckiest (and not necessarily the fittest) is the governing rule. You may face setbacks. So be ready to take them in your stride and keep moving forward.–Sidharth Babu (AIR 15, 2017) Indian Foreign Service