The UPSC Civil Services Exam is considered one of the toughest exams in India and a lot of candidates put their heart and soul into the preparation.
Many aspirants sacrifice everything to see their names in the final rank list.
The three stages of the IAS exam, the extremely huge UPSC syllabus, the intense competition, the unpredictability of the UPSC – all make the IAS preparation time a tough ordeal.
In this article, you can read about four gritty candidates who cleared the UPSC and became IAS toppers while working full time.
UPSC Success Stories
Here are a few IAS inspirational stories of UPSC toppers who were working professionals. Read on and get inspired to crack UPSC 2020.
Mittali Sethi (AIR 56; CSE: 2016)
- A doctor who cleared the IAS exam with flying colours, Mittali Sethi was working as an orthodontist.
- She said in an interview that she had not known about the IAS exam before 2014. After one of her students told her about the exam she started preparing for it.
- She failed the Prelims twice before clearing the whole exam in her third attempt in 2016.
- She chose Psychology optional even though it was not her graduation subject.
- She is one of the aspirants who started preparing for the exam at a very late stage and finally aced it. In the inspiring aspirants’ words, “Refuse to give up.”
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The IAS topper 2016 (AIR 1) was Nandini K R.
Bandana Pokhriyal (AIR: 83; CSE: 2015)
- Bandana Pokhriyal was working as a Central Excise Inspector for 4.5 years prior to securing the IAS rank in her second attempt.
- She prepared for the Civil Services for 2.5 years while working at her job.
- She advises candidates not to get frustrated by setting impossible targets on a daily basis. She set practical targets for herself and made sure she rarely took long breaks in between her studies.
- She also recommends working professionals to prepare small chits or cards with notes on them, and keep them on the work table in the office. This way, candidates can make the most of short breaks or free time.
- She also says that weekends should be utilized to the fullest extent possible.
- Her optional subjects were Public Administration in the first attempt and Anthropology in the second.
Know more about these optional subjects from the links in the table below:
Choosing your optional subject for IAS mains is one of the most important decisions to be taken regarding the IAS exam. So, when you select an optional, think it through from all angles.
To get tips on how to choose an optional, click on the linked article.
You can read more about Bandana Pokhriyal’s UPSC success story here.
The IAS topper 2015 (AIR 1) was Tina Dabi.
Neha Nautiyal (AIR: 185; CSE: 2011)
- A working professional with a Zoology background, Nautiyal cleared the IAS exam in her second attempt.
- Her optional subjects were History optional and Public Administration.
- She insists that the quality of studies is more important than the number of hours one spends on reading.
- Being a working professional she got only 2 – 4 hours per day during the weekdays to study.
- On weekends, Nautiyal would spend more hours and make up for the lost time.
- Her message to aspirants is that they must focus on what the exam demands. She also adds that the keys to success are perseverance, self-confidence and a positive attitude.
The 2011 UPSC topper was Dr. Shena Aggarwal.
R Vaithinathan (AIR: 37; CSE: 2015)
- Vaithinathan secured an amazing rank of 37 in his fourth attempt at the IAS exam.
- What makes his achievement commendable is that he was working as a doctor in a Delhi hospital while preparing for the UPSC exam.
- Despite facing parental opposition for changing his career track (he was a gold medalist in his medical college), he marched ahead and faced all odds in pursuing his IAS dream.
- His IPS sister nudged him in the right direction and he acknowledges her support immensely.
- Vaithinathan had to work for 24 – 36 hours at a stretch and then study during his 2-day break between hospital sessions.
- This gritty doctor was on the verge of quitting before his fourth attempt, but decided otherwise on hearing his sister’s encouraging words, “Don’t let a moment of defeat define your life’s outcome.”
Read more about Vaithinathan’s IAS success story here.
IAS aspirants can learn from the stories of UPSC toppers and incorporate the strategy they used to crack the IAS exam.
These are just four of the many such success stories of inspiring people who proved to the world that there is nothing that hard work and perseverance cannot achieve.
For more such civil services success stories, check our Get Inspired segment.