Success Story of Gunjan Singh (AIR 16) - The IITian Who Left Her Thriving Career to Serve the Country
From the heart of Uttar Pradesh, this is the story of the Gunjan Singh from the city of Kanpur. Born to an Assistant Engineer father serving at Jal Nigam and a Teacher mother at Government Girls Intercollege, Gunjan has been brought up in a household incredibly encouraging of academics. A brilliant student through her 10th and 12th boards, Gunjan has a B. Tech degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-R). She had a dream job in the Software Engineering field. However, her heart was set elsewhere.
NSS IIT Roorkee Congratulating Gunjan
Choosing Civil Services
Gunjan had been aware of the Civil Services from a young age. In fact, her older brother actively encouraged her to be one. Sadly, he passed away. But Gunjan never stopped thinking about it. However, as is the societal norm, she pursued a more generalised and science-oriented education, ending in her getting an engineering degree from one of the top institutes in the country. But it was in this same institute that she was reintroduced to why she wanted to get into the services in the first place.
Gunjan joined the National Service Scheme or NSS while in college. As a part of this nationwide organisation, she went to different villages in order to volunteer and serve. That is when she realised her true calling. Along with some of her service colleagues, Gunjan formed a group known as the ‘Bharat Bandhan’. They adopted the small village of Bhangeri. Trying to work in this village, they soon realised the kind of difficulties villagers faced. Whenever, despite many hurdles, their group would achieve a task, no matter how small in the larger scheme of things, the satisfaction they would feel was unparalleled. This is where she finally, objectively, decided on joining the Civil Services.
The Path to Success
The path to success is laced with failures, or so goes the proverb. Having been a bright student through both her 10th and 12th boards, and having aced one of the toughest exams in the country to get into IIT Roorkee, Gunjan had never really been humbled by failure. However, once she started her UPSC journey, she realised the impact of failure and the need to not give up and persevere. Acquiring AIR-16 rank in the UPSC Civil Services examination did not happen overnight for Gunjan. 2019 was her 3rd attempt at it.
Gunjan tried pursuing UPSC while in her job back in 2015. After a year, she finally decided to quit, move to Delhi, and pursue UPSC full-time. This was because she felt her preparation wasn’t going as well as it should have. She enrolled into coaching center in Delhi for both her General Preparation and her preparation for Geography optional. She first appeared for Civil Services examination in 2017. Unfortunately, she couldn’t clear the preliminary stage. Despite this, what kept her going was the love and support from her wonderful family.
Gunjan with her parents.
So instead of giving up, she decided to learn from her mistakes. She realised that in the past year, she had updated her knowledge considerably. She had gone through all static sources multiple times. But what she lacked was in her test preparation. An example she uses is that during her preliminary exam, whenever she could not come up with an answer after reading the question, she would skip it altogether without even looking at the options. However, in her second year of preparation, she realised the importance of option elimination and how it can make or break one’s attempt. She cracked prelims in her 2018 attempt. But 2017 had broken her confidence and she had not started her mains preparation till the prelims were dealt with.
Having realised that she only had a sources handful of months to complete her upsc mains preparation, instead of rereading the source material, Gunjan decided to buy a few test series from reputed coaching institutes and used their model answers to prepare her notes. She sailed through mains, appeared for her interviews, but sadly, missed out on being selected for the services by a mere 11-12 marks. But she refused to give up still.
Flying high from her last attempt, Gunjan now used her scorecard from 2018 to analyse her strengths and weaknesses. She gave more emphasis on the papers where she had scored lower such as essays and ethics. She concentrated on scoring even better on her optionals. She practiced answer writing enough so that she did not repeat the mistakes from her last two attempts. And when the 2019 results were out, Gunjan Singh has achieved an all India rank of 16 in UPSC Civil Services Examination. What an achievement!
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Advice to UPSC Aspirants
A civil servant has to face a lot of hardships in the service. The UPSC examination is designed to test an aspirant’s grit. Not giving up after a failure is half the battle won.
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