What made you decide to try for Indian Engineering services?
I was not satisfied with the job I had obtained through college placement and I had always thought about appearing for the Engineering Service exams. Plus preparing for ESE was also preparation for GATE because much of the portions overlap. This way I sort of had a backup in case I would not qualify Engineering Service Exams (ESE) in my first attempt. (This is in comparison to preparing for the civil services where back up options are much more limited.) Also, I had a senior whose guidance I could rely on. These factors prompted me towards taking the ESE path.
What is your current profile?
As of this date, I haven’t yet joined as an officer and so don’t have a designation yet. But when I get inducted it will be as an Assistant Executive Engineer or an Equivalent rank.
What should one do in college to help them out in this career path?
Acquaint yourself with the syllabus. Pay particular attention in class to those subjects which carry more weightage.
Enrol in a test series of a reputed institute. Mental conditioning is very much essential to increase one’s performance. Writing tests periodically not only help with the revision but also helps one understand the patterns and anticipate the type of questions that may be asked. Plus your speed increases.
College has a lot of stuff going on. Like fests, cultural, sports, club activities etc so preparation along with substantial participation in all these can be daunting. An idea here is to think of this period as building the background knowledge. Familiarise yourself with the subject, study with conviction, don’t stress too much on memorizing stuff instead understand. This will help when you start your actual preparation. The stuff you had memorized in college will look alien to you. The stuff you had understood will come back even though you had long forgotten it and these will keep you interested and the subject interesting.
When should one start preparing for the IES?
Ideally, it would be from your third year onwards. Much of the portions would have been covered plus people only start thinking about life beyond college from this year.
How useful is the technical knowledge you gained at college in your IES preparations and training?
Since the exam is a technical one, the technical knowledge of your subject is everything. College did lay the background to my preparation but taking a year off to prepare in Delhi did the job. Check this. A single subject in a semester is taught at an average of 30 to 40 classes in college. This at the most is 40 hours spent on a single subject. The same is taught in 120 hrs in a coaching institute. You can do the math. This is the sad fact.
Is it advisable or possible to work for a year or so, and then pursue IES?
Yes. It is possible to do so. But this is very subjective and would depend on the person. There are many cases of people having worked in MNCs for two years then taking a year off to prepare for the ESE exam and qualifying. Whether the person opts for coaching or not can also be deciding. Self-preparation entails more effort from the aspirant’s side whereas taking coaching reduces a bit of the burden. And in coaching the teachers begin from the basic so a gap between college and preparation isn’t a big issue. But then again some say strike while the iron is hot and it is the hottest when one just graduates.
What can students do if they are unable to clear IES? What are other similar opportunities in the public sector?
Preparation for IES exam covers a lot of other exams. With the same preparation, you can appear for exams like GATE, SSC, state engineering services and exams conducted by Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) like Coal India, NBCC, IRCON, BARC, ISRO etc. For example, the syllabus of GATE is approximately estimated to be about 60% of the ESE exam. Through GATE both PSUs and IITs fulfill their intake of students. So for someone who is serious and sincere in his/her preparation, there is a nice probability of landing somewhere good.