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K-ON!! [Season 2, Episode 24] (19:43)

August 27, 2023
- Kushagra Agarwal

Working out my feelings through a preponed convocation and with rains hindering the long and heavy meetups, which could have made the fact even more firm: the famed undergraduate life was over, and we were now graduates. Meandering through the monsoon-filled streets, I bid farewell to an abode which supported me for four long years and moved onto a journey I can only pretend to comprehend. Having been given a chance to understand at least the four years, sifting through the memories, and writing them out, I feel like I have to do this year to year, only to not bias my memoir to the regrets I hold on to.

The photos littered through this text are from my fourth year. As much as I’d like it, I have now discovered there isn’t much to remember from the COVID years or my third year and its shenanigans, described in detail below.

1st Year

Coming to the institute in the first year, I was hit by a world bigger than I had ever experienced before. It offered me so much and so many avenues to explore. I could make movies, make cars, make code, make robots, make so much and still do it with a beginner’s knowledge. Seniors suggested I take up multiple activities. I did my best to comply and made it through to two interviews: Watch Out! and the Debating Society.

My introduction to both these groups was slightly weird. Watch Out! was introduced to me by my +2 seniors in the orientation, with a lack of preparation visible when they were describing how well they’d showcased birds in a mag. It was reading the guide that got me interested in the group, a document I still feel is the wittiest the group has ever been. Meeting a Monster fan made it firm to me that the group held interesting enough people for me to gun for it.

Debating Society was a group in which I wasn’t interested in the slightest, majorly because of the privileged people I’d seen engaged in the activity in my school and the contempt I felt towards their gatekeeping of the activity (which I sure as hell did not partake in later). On the insistence of my still great friend, Anurag, I attended its intro talk (on condition that he applies for Watch Out!). The fact that I could hold a Trolley Problem conversation with the guys giving the intro again got me interested in the people.

I am unsure how I got into the only two (closed) (cultural) groups I tried for. Yet getting into these clubs opened me to many opportunities for growth. I understood the value of collaboration, and especially that of time. The clubs mandated me to manage my time well. I had to start prioritising the time I devoted to each of my engagements. The interaction I have had in these clubs is the most I’ve learned from absolutely directionless conversations.

Working through the second semester, I had the opportunity to apply for many tech clubs. Knowing I was one of the best coders of Mechanical, I only applied to two of them: IMG and SDS. I knew I’d get into one of the two and knew I had to go for the best coding jobs in the future. IMG didn’t take me through the test, and SDS rejected me as I saw dev as a platform for ‘instant gratification’. I still attempted to work on dev but could never make it through.

These experiences ceased somewhat when COVID hit. My solitude-loving and running-from-society brain felt I loved the experience away from the people at R, maybe also because I’d started tolerating them less. I longed to meet these people, but I also enjoyed my time watching anime and playing games. The weeks extended to months, and we entered the second year.

1st year

2nd Year

My times at home were simple. Take acads lectures, do studies and ensure I can do the questions I get in the exams myself (without any help from anyone, obviously). I took this time to grind out my acads, yet the efforts never translated to understanding why I was doing it. In hindsight, offline college allowed me to reconsider a lot of stuff I’m doing, allowing me to think about what’s for me and what’s not. Being at home allowed me to make a coherent plan for studies and anime/gaming but never allowed me to reconsider my plans. This myopic vision meant I was constantly working on acads and never onto personal/placement-oriented development.

This myopic vision wasn’t all bad though, as I could still find meaning in my work for Watch Out! and Debating. Though I can only ascertain why I wanted to continue working in hindsight now. I continued in Watch Out! for the shadow of the experiences I had in my first year. I continued Debating for the feeling of accomplishment I wanted to achieve in the club while never actually working for it. Again, I never sought to change my schedule to develop myself to fulfil my goals or even ponder what those goals may be.

By the end of the second year, I could see my friends actively stressing out. Their worries were how to get into the best companies in the fields they were gunning for. I, though, discovered a different side to worry about. I could not select any job profile for which I was certain I could work. I never thought of opening up about this problem to others. Still, when I did, I could understand how much advice seniors and friends actually hold. The decision I could ultimately land upon was that SDE prep was the way. I could fast-track my studies and practice Leetcode to land an intern. Easy enough and achievable for a late bloomer like yours truly. 1st year

3rd Year

With the third year starting up online and me getting sick of the online days, I was also handed the reins to a small-time group named Watch Out!. It was a moment of elation for me. The decision came at a time when I did not feel I had worked nearly enough to deserve such a position, something I’d felt my senior years had done. Working on memoirs and news articles at the peak of the COVID lockdown helped me gain new and precious experiences…

.. Or so I wish I could say. Watch Out! was something I’d experienced only with rose-tinted glasses. The absence of an offline semester meant that I’d never actually seen what sort of administrative duties the top brass held in the group. More importantly, how many of them refused to take up those duties. It became apparent, however, once we started working. The fact that it took actual effort to get people together, and to bring in newer ideas, made it an extremely challenging experience.

Somewhere down the line, seeing a group hit by COVID and the fact that the intern season was approaching, I think many of us decided running the group wasn’t our responsibility. The group work slowed to a drag.

I started watching the 2021 Tokyo Olympics (Not in the slightest because of my Japan obsession). It somehow inspired me enough to take up shooting. It was both the sense of accomplishment and the freedom from the stresses of coding season and Watch Out! that I continued with it until we were asked to come back to college. This homecoming, however, was preceded by the intern season.

The intern season was a slight eye-opener for me. Somehow, I had no idea what kind of stuff happened in this sort of situation. Sitting in the PPTs, I fell into the first-year mindset, where I could go into any company with my summer vacation on and off grind. My dreams were given a stern slap when I sat for the tests, which showed me how prepared the people who actually prepared were. I could see how much more prep I needed for such a software role. However, I was determined to continue it because I was even more underprepared in the core/business fields.

While applying for Oracle, I saw that ITC was also accepting applications, so I decided to apply just for fun. As luck would have it, I got through the GDs, which I was confident I’d make it through. It was the interviews I’d thought I would flunk for the lack of my core mechanical knowledge. The only core projects I’d done were the aeroplane design projects as a part of SAE Aero IITR (Oh yes, I’d joined it). Those projects, along with a CaspianReport video about the Afghanistan War (I still don’t know why I was asked about it), were the reason I got through the interviews. I was thus a Day 1 intern.

Getting an intern meant I could focus on other things in life, including going for competitive pistol shooting, watching the entirety of the Olympics and my lovely acads. This was around the time the campus finally decided to open again. I came back here, had fun experiences with friends and tried to get life back on track to where it was before the lockdown.

Yet with all this, I could never abandon Watch Out!. I am not sure how it was with the other members of the PoR group, but I felt many of them began to prioritise their goals over the group. I’ve been critical of such behaviour, asking people to work even for cultural obligations. Yet, I’ve come to understand that I’d ignored my own introspections in favour of keeping the group floating. It remains true that it hit me hard by the end of the 4 years, but I’ll come to that later.

During my tenure as Chief, I understood a very different set of values: what advice to take and what to think about myself. Until then, I never questioned the arguments people gave me. “We’re working for the betterment of certain groups by being extremely aggressive to someone we believe wronged us”: I’d say fair to such stuff and move on, assuming these people had better experiences than I had, so I could leave the decision-making to them. When I repeated such advice verbatim to someone else: “It’s fine even if Watch Out! dies”, only for them to freak out, I started thinking otherwise.

I began to observe the flaws in people. Their unwillingness to work, the time it took for them to look past their friends and personal obligations to work for their duties. The pleasure people had in hating certain other people just for the sake of it. The hypocrisy people showed in making closed groups within open groups.

It was these flaws which compelled me to take external help with the running of the group. It was the first time I considered consulting other people for my responsibilities. It was also when I fought against the people I’d idealised for their ideals and stood for something I’d believed was correct. The group led me to transformative experiences. I became much more jaded, looked to people as tools to execute work, and despised those who did not contribute.

It is imperative to say that I also discovered my flaws within the group. I was extremely harsh to my peers and juniors for work that seems puny in hindsight. While I still rationalise myself for it, I have stains from those days which will stay with me for a long time.

Watch Out! was the most impact anything has had on me over the four years I have been in the college. The sleepless nights and long arguments over the website’s contents have ultimately helped me become who I am today.

1st year

Interlude: ITC

While I have noted my experience in another article (, I would like to note some reconsidered feelings in this article.

There are two ways I look at the intern. One that the project had immense freedom to work in, yet the direction mentioned was unclear from start to finish. I wish for better mentors or managers or senior mentors who could’ve provided me with that direction. Yet, it is also true that I never sought to understand that direction myself. I kept ignoring the advice others in the company gave me regarding how I should approach the problem or the product. I blindly followed what my mentor said, feeling that defending his ideas was defending myself. The experience helped me understand how much I should trust others in a corporate and the fact that I should choose the people I decide to take advice from in such a setting.

The difficult experiences I had were still valuable in many aspects. I got closer to my parents and started valuing their presence more than ever. I understood how wary I must be in a highly demanding environment. I discovered an upper limit of the work I want to execute at a workspace and a lower limit of the lavish lifestyle I now aim for. 1st year

4th Year

Traumatized by the manual labour (not an exaggeration) I had to do at ITC, I began to double down on my CAT preparation. I’d been preparing for it since March, and I was sure enough of my capability to get in, just as I had in JEE. I scored better than my peers in my coaching, who were short in numbers. Although, I also took this time to come out of the trauma I had from intern work and had nice fun with my friends. This was no problem, as MBA was certain.

Working with my CAT prep, I understood that I could sit for Analyst positions, which only require the prep for the tests. I took it as a sign to focus on my Quant and Verbal prep, not any other fields like Stats or DSA.

As the placement season got closer, the rumours of a small-time consulting company, BCG, attending the season surfaced. The rumours were confirmed when they held a PPT. I was elated (some pattern right there). BCG was where I’d achieve my lavish dreams without an MBA at that! I took this time to consult multiple people to have a shot at the company, even though I never trusted my resume that much. As life would have it, I got into the shortlist.

At this point, I had two clear paths before me. I would either get into BCG or get into MBA onwards to consulting.

I devoted myself to these two sides while managing my acads all the same. A month of prep followed, with BCG shortlisted people doing case interview sessions. Regular case interviews, CAT mock tests and the goddamn (Management) minor courses I took are the only things I remember from November.

I give the CAT exam, and it goes decently. I sit for BCG, only to miss out on one detail in the last interview to be rejected. I wasn’t too down, though: I still had CAT in my favour. I then started sitting for placement interviews, where I realised something about myself: I was unprepared. In the race to obtain CAT and BCG, I had skipped learning stuff like Statistics or Product, which could have helped me get into the companies I was shortlisted for. Also, utilising my friends for ‘help’ in tests could’ve managed shortlists where I could’ve used my knowledge better. Again, I still had CAT.

Before I was placed, the answer key was revealed for CAT. I went through and calculated my marks for me to realise how much I had fucked up. The scores were good enough according to my targets, but as it turned out after speaking to seniors, not nearly enough to get to a good place. It was neither that the exam was too tough nor that I was underprepared; it was just that I made extremely silly mistakes at multiple points, which caused a large score difference from what it could’ve been.

With CAT no longer backing me, my spine was removed. Placements were my only alternative, aside from less-than-top tier IIMs, where I did not want to go for fear of turning up in another IITR. All my eggs had been placed in the CAT basket, and I had more or less dropped that basket.

Continuing to sit for placements with increased vigour (though still hanging to the hope for a good IIM with my CAT score), I started to look for crash courses in stats and ML to lead me through some interviews. I did get a crash course courtesy of good friend Naman and Jigyasa. Thanks to one elective: Data Mining (Now Data Analytics), I could comprehend the ML stuff I was told in 2 hours. I managed to leverage that knowledge, plus a guesstimate I’d been made to solve for another company, to get into Auronova Consulting.

This was the point I’d felt extremely inadequate. I’d failed ITC, failed BCG and failed CAT at relatively the same time. All sorts of fallbacks I’d imagined in the past year had been taken away. In hindsight, I could attribute it to my mistakes in CAT, as the others were not a priority and were very random in who got in and who did not. The fact that I got into Auronova, too, was hugely lucky on my part, though I had some growth to look forward to.

These feelings of inadequacy, however, did not subside. I took the failures to heart and crumbled. I gave up on my minor, whose classes I was barely willing to attend (and also because of the minor course, which had an exam on the day before CAT). I felt inadequate to prepare for the IIMs, so I never did it seriously. I did my bare minimum studies, which was following the easiest electives offered by the MIED department. To put it bare, I gave up on any sort of growth.

Again, with the power of hindsight and after sitting for management college interviews, I understand how much I had underestimated myself based on one failure, to the point that I felt I could not even learn new stuff. I can now see that many things I needed to study were simple and basic enough, just that they needed to be done consistently. My idea of inadequacy led me to laziness. I kept procrastinating on valuable things for fear of being inadequate and failing, and falling back to acads, where I was reasonably confident of getting good grades.

These times led to nice introspective and therapy sessions with lots of people. Again, I understood the need to speak up and not solve every problem on my own.

1st year

The exciting parts of the post-placement semester took place through the Debating Society. The soc had only seen a little activity since the end of the pandemic holidays. Lack of enthusiasm came mainly from people prioritising work over cultural stuff, same old story as Watch Out!. However, unlike Watch Out!, This club showed a drift in trajectory. When Inter IITs came up, there was a resurgence in interest, mainly from the group’s bonding on the train journey (which I wasn’t there to see). It was the birth of a new culture within the group, with inside jokes and third-grade humour. The acceleration the group saw in 3 days was unprecedented.

The changes in DebSoc were a big surprise. I, as the WO! chief had focused a lot on work to keep the group running and had lost hope in that approach. But I could see that groups could (is are) come back from the dead, not based on work, but on community. It shifted my perspective over the uptight nature I had portrayed in Watch Out!, and I felt things could’ve been executed differently. Regardless, Debating was the source of my fun during the last semester, alongside the regular yet now extinct fun with friends, late-night convos, and the stuff that none of you readers should miss out on.

1st year

Final Words!

1st year

As I can see here, most of the things I have written are from my 4th year. Even so, each year here at R has contributed and led to who I am right now. My innumerable experiences at the hostels, departments, LHCs, SAC, MAC, Student’s Club, Hood and even Projects are irreplaceable and equally important to me.

I’d felt this memoir would be a collection of regrets and nothing more, an overwhelming majority of ramblings and hindsight and things I could do better. But actually, writing this and looking back, I realise it was much more than that. The regrets that overwhelm me now will not remain, and I will grow further and further from here.

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PS: A fun reading exercise would be reading this as Grammarly intended: replacing all ‘acads’ with ‘acids’. Have fun!