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Should I quit my job to prepare for CAT?

Imagine juggling two balls at once. The temptation to drop a ball and play catch with the other is but natural. The question is, are you prepared to receive a relatively smaller reward in return?

As a working professional aspiring to write CAT, the journey of managing both your work and CAT preparation simultaneously can appear to be a mountain of a challenge. But it is not an impossible task. What you need to ask yourself is, the real reason why you want to quit?

Do you want to quit because you cannot undertake the pressure of balancing both? Or is it because you don’t like your job/boss and need a break. Or is it because your job consumes all your time? Let’s discuss each case scenario.

 

You cannot undertake the pressure of balancing both

If you think that you can’t take the pressure of multitasking - handling both your CAT prep and work, then you should perhaps reconsider your decision to pursue an MBA. An MBA education requires you to be able to multitask. Even if you think you can get a good CAT percentile if you quit, you will be at a loss at the second stage of selection process, as your interviewers are going to question your decision making and ability to multitask. In addition, fellow aspirants without any career break will have an extra edge over you in the race to a B-School. 

 

You don’t like your job/boss and need a break

Over time you have come to realise that you don’t like the work you have been doing and need a switch or working with your manager has become exhausting. Either way, quitting now is not going to help your case. During the interview, the panelists mostly look down upon candidates whose sole reason to do an MBA is because they need to make a switch. The way forward is to put in an extra effort at your workplace, resolve your ongoing issues with your manager, and give yourself an added advantage during the selection process.

 

Your job consumes all your time

Working a job that requires 10-12 hours every day can be completely taxing. Further, if you are also required to work on weekends then there is no getting away from your job. In the given situation, is quitting the only option to prepare for CAT? First, you need to establish some boundaries. Discuss with your manager and try and define your working hours which will allow you to prepare alongside. Second, talk to your HR manager and see if you can take a sabbatical for 2 to 3 months. Taking a sabbatical from work is any day a better choice than quitting.

CAT is not an exam that requires full-time preparation. If you start your preparation by April, devote 2 hours every weekday and 4-6 hours on the weekends, you will be able to perform well in the exam. On the contrary, 4-6 months of full time preparation can prove to be counterproductive. With plenty of time at hand, it's easy to burn out and hit a slump in terms of improvement. Secondly, a career gap is going to be hard to justify at the time of interview. What’s more? You will miss out on the additional marks awarded to working professionals. Some of the premier B-Schools like IIM Bangalore give significant weightage to people with work experience.

Nevertheless, if you still see quitting as the only option then here are a few things that you can do to justify a career break:

Work Freelance - While on a break you can look at working on a project that requires freelancers. This may also help you add diversity to your professional experience.

Upskilling - Focus on learning new skills that are currently trending in the job market. This will help you in becoming a more suitable candidate for your next employer.

At this juncture, understandably there is a lot of pressure and stress to be dealt with. But remember that “ a diamond now was once a (juggling) coal that performed well under pressure”.