Note: The Interviewee has requested the interview to be anonymous.
Q. When and why did you decide to go for M.Tech?
A: In the beginning of 3rd year. I didn't want to go for usual jobs-like programming stuff.
Q. When did you start preparing for GATE in full swing?
A: Umm......3-4 months before Gate, but studied well the courses during 3rd year. Basically concentrated on Discrete Mathematics (including probability), Computer Organization and Algorithms.
Q. How many hours a day on an average did you devote to Gate preparation in this period?
A: 2-3 hours regular + devoted whole day on weekends
Q. What was your mode of preparation?
A: Self-study + set of question papers from Gate Forum for practice.
Q. Did the college curriculum interfere with Gate preparation? If yes, how did you manage it?
A: Yes, it did. In fact my last semester grades were badly affected and I won't say I managed well. It is difficult to manage between the two because usually college curriculum is dumb and does not go hand-in-hand with GATE preparation. So, don't worry.
Q. Did you appear for Gate in your Third year? Do you think it's a good idea to do so?
A: No, I didn't take it but its a good idea to do so. It gives a feel of the examination + 3rd year topics are fresh in mind which are by far the most important ones for Gate. I studied very well in my 3rd year but I didn't take Gate that year, thats a personal decision anyway.
Q. What was your way of studying/ what should be the way of studying?
A: Pehle to apna level pata hona chahiye. Sabka itna level nahi hota aur sabke strong areas bhi alag-alag hote hain. So, better focus on those courses you feel confident with. Please pick up the right books - thats MOST IMPORTANT, don't use local books. Until and unless you lay your hands on the right books, you'll keep beating around the bush. Those who have problem in English must start earlier. I would strongly advise, be serious from the 3rd year because the most important topics are covered in 3rd year only. At the end, everything falls back to the basics, so understand things carefully. Zyada funde mat pelo, kyunki funde wahi pelte hain jinki zameen hili hoti hai..
Focus on the first principles, subsequent things will become trivial.
Last 1-2 months should be devoted to revision.
Q. What would you suggest about the last days (say, one week) preparation?
A: Be relaxed and try time-bound papers.
Q. Having so many options, why did you choose IIT-Kanpur?
A: I was very much interested in algorithms. So, I applied for IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi and IISc, Bangalore which are known to be good in this area. In IISc Bangalore, I got in SERC (Supercomputing Education and Research Center) but didn't opt for it because it is an interdisciplinary course.
As IIT Kanpur and IIT Delhi are both more or less equivalent in algorithms, I chose Kanpur considering nearness to my home. Moreover, IITK requires 6 courses in an MTech degree which are all electives, while IITD demands 12 courses in MTech (not all are electives). IITK MTech requires thesis, while IITD MTech consists of a project work. IITD has separate program called MS (Master of Science) in which one has to do a thesis.
Q. Are you satisfied with your decision?
A: I dare not be dissatisfied.
Q. How should one choose the institute?
A: One should do a careful profiling of the institute faculty, programs and facilities. Having some idea of what one wants to do in future would be good. Most people prefer system related stuff, so one should go for IITB or IITD. IITB is very good in computer networking.
Q. What are your future career plans?
A: I might go for a PhD if I find my MTech research very interesting. Right now I don't find myself good enough for PhD. I am open to both career options as of now. (On a lighter note) I am thinking of taking a break for a world adventure tour.
Q. How would you compare M.Tech from IIT against Post-graduation from abroad?
A: I feel IITs are world-class institutions far better than any mediocre university abroad. IITs provide a lot of exposure in all aspects.So, we should have enough faith in our own institutes.
Q. Any other message?
A: Never listen to what seniors/people say. They talk crap, rangbazi bahot karte hain . Depend on reliable sources only.
Remember exams like GATE/JEE are not the end, they are the just the beginning. Pata hona chahiye kisme kudne jaa rahe hain. For MTech one must have a mental bend for research. After getting into IIT, shanti se apna kaam karo, relax raho. You are competing with the best of the BTechs, there are things you won't understand, but daro mat bas, karte chalo.