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From Semiconductor Engineer to Interview Topper, Annapurna Singh Shares Her Inspiring Journey

"Kahaani Humari hai, ho sake toh kamaal likhna hai,” says Annapurna Singh, who cleared UPSC CSE 2023 with AIR 99 in her fifth attempt
Indian Masterminds Stories

Annapurna Singh is a name that will resonate with countless UPSC aspirants across India. This year, she not only secured a coveted spot in the civil services but also emerged as the second topper in the interview round, scoring a remarkable 212 marks. Her journey, however, is far from an overnight success story. In an exclusive interview with Indian Masterminds, Annapurna shares about her journey. 

SEMICONDUCTOR ENGINEER TO CIVIL SERVANT 

Annapurna’s journey began in Bangalore, where she pursued a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering. Landing a coveted job at Intel as a semiconductor engineer, she embarked on a career path in the world of semiconductors, even working on AI chips. However, a yearning for a career that allowed her to contribute more directly to society nudged her towards the civil service. This realization, coupled with the introspection brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, solidified her decision to pursue UPSC CSE.

The initial years of her UPSC preparation were a balancing act. Juggling a demanding job at Intel with the rigors of the exam proved challenging. Annapurna appeared for the prelims three times during this period, missing the cut-off by a significant margin initially, then by a hair’s breadth. These setbacks, however, did not deter her. She drew strength from a near-miss in the 2021 attempt, where a car accident just days before the prelims could not extinguish her determination. “That’s when I decided it’s doable,” she says, “because if in this stage I am writing, and reach this close, then I can do it.”

RESIGNED FROM INTEL

Taking a bold leap of faith, Annapurna decided to prioritize her UPSC dream. She resigned from her well-paying job and shifted back to Patna to prepare full-time for the next two attempts. This decision wasn’t without its sacrifices. She gave up a financially secure and comfortable life, but the unwavering support of her parents, especially her mother, who would leave her encouraging notes like “Beta, Daliya Rakha hai Kha lena” (I’ve kept porridge for you; please eat), became her pillar of strength. “My parents understood me and supported me every time,” Annapurna shared. 

PREPARATION STRATEGY 

Looking back at her preparation strategy, Annapurna emphasizes the importance of thoughtful planning and perseverance. “Never go for your initial attempt in a rush,” she advises aspirants. “For prelims, statics is the king, and that is what helped me later sail through.” She also highlights the importance of dealing with failures constructively. “If you face failures, don’t take them in a way that’s not for you,” she says.

One of the most crucial decisions Annapurna made was choosing Geography as her optional subject, defying the advice of some who suggested Engineering as a more natural fit for her background. “But I love geography,” she explains. “I like to draw and sketch; I am good at maps.” This passion, coupled with consistent effort, resulted in her scoring consistently well in the subject. For her General Studies preparation, Annapurna effectively utilized online resources like YouTube channels.

SECOND TOPPER IN THE INTERVIEW STAGE 

However, it was the interview stage that truly became her turning point. Dispelling the myth that interview preparation is less important, Annapurna reveals, “The interview stage has been the savior for me. It is a myth that aspirants don’t have to study for the interview round. I have studied more for the interview round than for the Mains exam. There is no shortcut.” This meticulous preparation, along with her ability to regain composure after initial hiccups during the interview, helped her secure a phenomenal score of 212, making her the second topper in the interview round.

WISE WORDS 

Annapurna’s story is an inspiration for UPSC aspirants. It embodies the power of unwavering determination, strategic preparation, and the unwavering support of loved ones. As she embarks on her new journey as an IAS officer, her message to aspiring candidates and their parents is simple yet powerful: “It is a very courageous decision to go for UPSC… We have to keep the locus of control in our hands and give 10% extra effort. Be kind to yourself. A message and a request to the girl’s aspirant parents that they should support them at any stage.”

“Kahaani Humari hai, ho sake toh kamaal likhna hai” (This is our story, let’s try to write a glorious one), Annapurna concludes, perfectly encapsulating the spirit that propelled her towards this remarkable achievement.


Indian Masterminds Stories

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