Jan 06, 2022

A (failed) interview that changed my life!

Rishi Shah,   PGDM 2021-23

It was a pleasant early February morning. I hopped on a train from Surat to Mumbai, all geared up to appear for my best interview call in that admissions cycle – SPJIMR. Being in my final year of Mechanical Engineering, I was absolutely surprised to get a call for the Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSCM) Specialisation.

I was informed by many that this will be an almost impossible interview to crack. A fresher in OSCM is a rarity. I was confident, nevertheless. On my way, I was brushing up some concepts and going through my internship reports, should the panel ask me a question from them.

After reaching the Bhavans campus, I completed my registration and joined the four other aspirants who were paired with me for my Group Interview – 1. We went inside and were greeted warmly by our panellists.

They began with a simple question, “What do you think about the future of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry?”. One by one, everyone went around sharing their thoughts. Given my background, I had limited knowledge on the topic. Whatever I knew, was through YouTube videos and The Big Bang Theory show. I had a very myopic view towards the concept, with the notion that 3D printing was just for making exciting toys and whistles. On my turn, I replied with some confidence – “I feel 3D printing might be a massive fad because the existing manufacturing processes have their advantages which cannot be replicated.”. The interviewer simply smiled and proceeded to ask the next question. We moved on to basic profile-related questions. Results came in soon after, and only 2 out of the 5 candidates proceeded to Group Interview-2. I was not one of them.

Naturally, I was disheartened. I went outside, picked up my bag, folded my blazer, and booked a cab back to the railway station. While waiting, I saw my interviewer come out of the room for a tea break, so I decided to approach him. I knew I was surely not up to the mark and the only way to know where I had to improve was by asking him. I approached him, asking for feedback on what I could have done better. He simply replied, “You don’t have a need to improve, you have a need to EXPLORE! There is only so much your undergraduate course will teach you. Go out into the world and get a job, get some real-life experience…. (jokingly) 3D printing is not a fad, and it is not going away. You will not know about stuff like this from your books and hence you cannot learn about it passively, you can only gain knowledge from exploring.”

Months later, I found myself landing an R&D job in an MNC, working in the development of plastic products. This is the industry that is at the forefront of worldwide disruption from 3D printing. What are the odds!?

Two years after that interview rejection, I applied and was shortlisted yet again. But this time, with better preparation, I finally cracked it!

In my Term I, I wrote an industry analysis paper detailing the threat of 3D printing on existing manufacturing processes such as Injection Moulding. The amateur who casually rejected 3D printing as a fad was now passionately writing long passages on it!

I am not sure if this is destiny or just a coincidence, but I believe that the previous interview experience was the single most defining moment in my life. I worked in that job for 2 years and loved every minute of it. I learned more than I could’ve imagined. I met the most diverse bunch of people with great expertise. I got to get my hands dirty and learn the mechanics of operations and supply chain from the ground level. Not just on my professional front but even on a personal front, I had major life-changing events and they could not have been possible had I made it through SPJIMR two years ago.

So, to those aspirants who shall be appearing for the admissions interview this year – I just want to say, do not worry about the outcome. You never know where life will take you. As Dory from Finding Nemo would say, “Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!”

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