Chandigarh's Arshee Khosla is on cloud nine these days: Her hard work of years bore fruit on Wednesday when she was was told that she's secured the second spot in this year's Indian Economic Service Examination, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). What made the news even more special for Arshee was the fact that this was the first time she sat for the exam.
A student of St Anne's School in the city, she completed her Classes 11 and 12 from Government Model School, Sector 16, and then moved to Delhi to complete her graduation in Economics Honours from Delhi University's Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). Post her graduation, Arshee joined Punjab University's Economics department to pursue her Masters.
"Everybody boasts of the science subjects, but I believe Economics is no less scientific. I think the IES exam is a great platform provided by the UPSC for youngsters who wish to engage in a long-term career in this field," she said.
Clearing an all-India exam of this level, and that too in the first attempt, is not an easy task. "It requires a different level of preparation altogether. I started studying for the exam in July last year after completing my masters and didn't lose focus until May, when I sat for the exam. I studied for almost eight hours on a daily basis," Arshee said when asked about her study routine.
Her mantra of success? "Hard work and consistency," she said. "I also took private coaching and always ensured that I clarified my doubts there. It also helped me focus on self study otherwise. I also looked at question papers from previous years and never hesitated in asking my seniors for suggestions," she added.
Elated with his daughter's superlative performance, Ravinder Jit Khosla, Arshee's father, a retired official of the Central Bank of India, said: "Arshee has been an achiever from the very beginning." Besides being awarded with the best all-round student at her school, she is also a national-level tennis player and was awarded the Chandigarh administration state award for sports in 2008. An active debater, she believes it's all about the art of balancing studies with extra-curricular.
"I don't emphasise only on academics. Taking part in different activities other than studies plays an important role in shaping our personalities," she said, adding that her parents have been her biggest strength all her life. Arshee's proud mother, Anita Khosla, who is the head of the Hindi department at GCG College, Sector 11, said that she never felt the need to remind her daughter for studies. "Arshee knows her priorities well," said Anita.
Not that it was always a cakewalk for Arshee. Driven by competition and increasing pay packages amongst her peer group, Arshee said there were times when she had to fight self-doubt and low confidence. "At times, I would really feel low and that's when I would go out for a jog, or for a drive with my brother. In fact, at times we both would go to the university reading room post dinner and study there," she said.
Arshee, who got placed with Google at SRCC, gave up the job offer so that she could continue with her studies, as per her mother's wishes.
Her superlative performance in the exam, she said, is no reason for her to take things lightly from now. "We are yet to receive an official date about when our training will begin, which will be held at Delhi. But I don't want to waste any time: I'll continue to study for the civil services exam," she said, adding that she also appeared for the IAS exam prelims on the sidelines last Sunday. When asked what would she choose between the two, if she clears another prestigious exam, she said: "Ahh, I'll take it as it comes, I don't want to think that far. I am happy with what is at hand, for now, she smiled.