I am a student from the electrical branch, and compared to a typical candidate you expect to get placed on day 1, I would say my CGPA is remarkably low.
After my first year at IIT, I was at a decent standpoint, at least academically. My CGPA was around 8.5 back then. However, throughout the second and third year, that 8.5 that I had built up kept dropping. As with many others in the Electrical branch, my CGPA took a huge hit in my third semester. But unlike most students, who manage to cover it up in the fourth semester and after, I wasn't able to. As the number kept going downhill, I felt less interested in the courses I was studying and often ended up thinking I had made a mistake choosing electrical. The electrical department at IIT Delhi is one of the best in the world, but I wasn’t up to the challenge it presented. This disinterest made me start skipping classes and resulted in more hopelessness. All this was, of course, reflected in the continually low grades I received.
When lockdown started, I hit a rough patch. My internship got cancelled, and I was forced to sit idle all summer, save for a few things I managed to do on my own. Meanwhile, all my friends were interning at home. The people I knew kept motivating me; they told me that while my CGPA might always be an obstacle, plenty of firms only look at it as a bare qualifier. It was the skills I acquired that made a difference. I started to realise that the companies I was interested in required a skillset which is exceedingly disjoint from the courses I had learned. My disinterest in my branch wasn't reflected in my ability to get the job I wanted.
While the loss of my internship was bitter, it gave me a 2-month head start on my peers. I had an extra seven hours each day compared to them, and I used them to start preparing. I followed the standard resources for placements, brushing up my programming skills and revising courses like Analysis and Design of Algorithms. I also had a lot of projects on my CV. Professors are usually generous enough while offering projects, and projects give insights in concepts you don't necessarily learn in a classroom. All in all, the lockdown and shutting down of college helped me gain perspective and focus on what was important for me.
Even after the months of prep, when December finally rolled around, my interview rounds weren't without their kind of stress. Around that time, I had tested positive for covid-19. My symptoms weren't worrisome; however, I had my grandmother staying with me. My whole family was concerned about her.
There were 5 to 6 rounds of approximately 40 mins each, and the interviews were very stressful. Due to network issues in my first round, it got cancelled, which left me very anxious. The interviewers were very understanding of my situation and agreed to retake that round.
During the final round at one of the companies, I found out that my grandmother had started showing covid symptoms. We were going to have her hospitalised as a precautionary measure. I wasn’t able to focus on the latter rounds anymore.
Despite the setbacks and the anxiety, I was finally offered a position. I was placed at NK securities, a high frequency trading firm based in Gurgaon. The company offered two roles - a quant profile and a software development one. I got placed in the latter.
Of course, things would have been much different if everything was normal. But if I were to say anything to someone in my position in their second or third year (and mind you I am not a very insightful person), I always believed that my academic disinterest stemmed from a lack of effort and time I put into it. The concepts in the circuital branches are deep, and you don't learn unless you put in that effort. CGPA is still extremely important, and I did lose out on opportunities because of mine. I would suggest trying to improve yours as much as possible, especially if you still have time.
But never, ever lose hope.
Interviewed by Udita Mittal