How can one effectively utilize a career gap while preparing for CAT?

Thursday, April 7th, 2016


A career gap can be haunting and sometimes even depressing for CAT aspirants. It is something that is difficult to handle in the interview. You can take proper steps, in advance, so that it does not become a bigger issue than it has to be. There is plenty of stuff that you can do to add bullet points to your resume. Let us look at couple of them in detail.

Internships

While getting an internship might be difficult at a big company, it is a lot simpler to get internships at startups – specially the ones that are just starting out. Here is something that I suggest. Go to websites like YourStory / Next Big What and look for startups from your city. Find out something that you are interested in and send an email to the founders showing your interest in interning at the startup. Here are some points that will help you with that email.

It should be crisp and short. Something like,

Hi ,

I got to know about your company from . I am and I am interested in interning at your startup. I graduated recently from and before pursuing my masters I wanted to gain some hands on experience in .

Would it be possible to share your number for a quick call? I promise not to take more than 5 minutes. My resume and a PPT on why I would be a good fit as an intern at is attached with this email.

Cheers,

The resume should not be more than 1 page and the PPT should not be more than 10 slides. The fact that you cared enough to make a PPT will at least get you a call with the founder or someone from the team to take it forward. Also, around 7/10 slides of the PPT would be the same for each application.

You should not send it to multiple people. Send it to founder A first, then to founder B, then to someone else in the team at a gap of 1 week. If you end up sending stuff like this to multiple people from multiple companies – trust me – you are just wasting your time and the time of the person who opened that email.

I run an online course for CAT preparation on my website Handa Ka Funda here: Online CAT Coaching Classes – MBA 2016 I recently got an application for ‘Content Developer’ that was send to multiple companies and even NARENDRA MODI. (That is his verified email address – I checked)

Proof:

Also, 12:30 in the morning is never a good time to send an email. Mondays and Fridays are bad ideas too. Probably Tuesday / Wednesday afternoons (post lunch) is the best time for these emails.

If you do this properly with even 10 companies, I am sure you would land up with an internship.

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Start a small business

It is incredibly easy to start a small business these days. Now do keep in mind that you are doing this small business to learn and to utilize your time well before the CAT exam. You should be very clear and focused on that. This should not take more than 2-3 hours a day.

Here is what you can do – pick up a niche that you like and start a website on it. Now you might be wondering – won’t that require a lot of technical knowledge and cost a lot of money. Well, it doesn’t. You can book a domain name and set up a basic website in few hours even if you know how to do not know what server, IP, etc. mean. If you do, you might be able to do it sooner. It will cost you less than 5,000 Rs. All you will need is to go to something like GoDaddy and their support will set it up for you for a small fee. Once you have the website, create various social profiles related to it and you are good to go.

Now, all you need to do – for 2 hours a day – is to keep creating content for the website and the social channels. Also, have some place on the website where you can run ads. It would be better if you can actually sell a product or a service. It could be about anything from photography to women’s cricket. All you need to do is to get one paying customer to call it a legit business. If you stay motivated enough and put in 2 hours every day on this, two things will happen:

  1. You will learn a lot. You will get some really good insights which can be used to impress not the B-school interview panel but all future interviewers. Very few people are self-starters and almost everyone appreciates them.
  2. You might make some money. It will not be significant but it will be something that will give you huge amount of confidence going forward. You will have a leg up on the other CAT aspirants who were, for the lack of a better phrase, “just sitting at home”.

In my opinion, this would be even better than the internship. It would have a much better ROI with respect to the time invested.

There are some other great options like joining an NGO, building a reading habit, pursuing a hobby seriously.

It is not going to be easy to figure out what you want to do but there are so many things that you can do to utilize these 7-8 months. CAT preparation should not take more than 3-4 hours a day. Do not waste the rest of time. Learn to use the time well.

How can one effectively utilize a career gap while preparing for CAT?
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