What can unsuccessful UPSC aspirants do?

UPSC Civil Services, the dream of millions of Indian Students. Every year we hear and read news about students cracking UPSC Civil Services which is one of the world’s most difficult exams. How they worked hard, struggled, crossed every hurdle in the way and finally triumphed. But rarely, do we read about people who put their blood and sweat in preparing for UPSC, made sacrifices but could not make it to the final list. What do they do after giving up on the UPSC dream? How do they cope with the reality that it is over and it’s the time to move on? In this post, I would like to talk about the unsuccessful UPSC candidates coz no one does.

Every year around 10 lakh candidates fill up the UPSC Civil Services application form. Out of which, 5-6 lakh candidates appear for the Prelims exam as there is a maximum attempt limit set by UPSC. To save the attempts, many students who don’t feel good with their preparation choose not to appear for the Prelims exam. These 5-6 lakhs candidates fight it out for some about 1000 vacancies every year. To break it down in simple terms, every year only 0.2 % of the total candidates get the job. Such a high rejection rate. And the exam is conducted once a year only. So if you wanna try again, come back next year. To put things into perspective, Harvard University Cambridge, one of the toughest colleges to get into, has an acceptance rate of around 7%.

Let us talk about the rejected 99.8% of UPSC candidates. Out of this 99.8%, there are some who attempt the exams while being in a job. They always have something to fall back on. Then there are some who invest a year or two of their lives in the preparation, if unsuccessful they go with Plan B and move on without wasting any more time. But a majority of candidates are those who consider UPSC Civil Services as their ultimate career goal and don’t keep any backup plan. They are ready to give up their social life, immerse themselves in the UPSC preparation culture to finally see their name in the final list one day. It is very difficult to accept the reality for these candidates when they can’t even make it in all their attempts.

It is common for some of the unsuccessful candidates to develop a fatalistic attitude, negative thoughts towards life and a general disinterest in every aspect of life. But to think of it, it is not something which is particularly related to UPSC. It can happen in any field of life where you invest so much of your time and energy and in the end, the result is not in your favour. It can happen with an athlete who had devoted his entire youth in a particular sport but still could not win any medal (due to various reasons), and does not get the deserved recognition. So the point is how to let go of this negative and sad feeling of not tasting the success and move on.

First of all, to all those candidates who put their best effort and kept on trying for this one goal, it just shows your persistence level. You didn’t back out, you sacrificed things for one ambition and that’s a great achievement already. Secondly, you are definitely a person with a higher level of knowledge and awareness after dealing with almost all the subjects that concern a human. So, it wasn’t a complete waste as you definitely gained some knowledge and knowledge never goes waste. And then comes the main point which is “What can unsuccessful UPSC aspirants do” when they are in their late 20s or early 30s and done with all their attempts and have a huge career gap. How can they get the train of their careers back on track? So below I would like to give some of the options that an unsuccessful UPSC aspirant can do to get back his career.

State Civil Services – PCS:

Attempting State Civil Services is a good option. You have already been preparing for UPSC so you are already well acquainted with the syllabus. The syllabus of State Civil Services is more or less similar to UPSC with some topics of State General Knowledge. Also, the difficulty level is a bit lower than that of UPSC, so anyone who had been a serious UPSC aspirant will find the State PCS quite easy. But again I would suggest starting thinking of a backup plan if you are preparing for State Civil Services as the competition is as high as in UPSC if not lower and you can’t afford to lose more time of your life.

Civil Services Coaching:

You can become a Civil Services educator. You can mentor the aspirants with your experience and knowledge. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you can even think of starting your own coaching institute.

Private Sector:

If it’s possible you can try to find a job in the private sector. You can try making profiles on Job Hunting portals like Naukri, Monster, Linkedin etc, and try your luck. Private sector employees do take the age gap very seriously, so it might be tough to convince the reason for the gap. Another way is to actually do a free or Paid internship with an organisation. You might land up with a job offer if you perform well in that job.

Other Exams :

You can appear for exams like GATE, NET, CAT and go for further studies. If your age permits, you can even appear for exams like SSC CGL, SBI, Banking, Insurance exams, RBI Grade B etc.

Pursuing LLB is also a good option if you have developed an interest in the subject during the course of Civil Services Preparation. You can become a lawyer or a judge after clearing the relevant exam.

Study Abroad:

Pursing Masters abroad is also a good option as age can be a concern in the Indian Colleges. It is very normal for someone in the 30s or 40s to attend classes with a younger lot in foreign countries.

Finally, if you are someone who you can relate to the above post, please share your comments below. It would be nice to hear your story about how you dealt with the situation. Also, if you have any questions or any suggestions, please comment below.

I am creating a Facebook group for all the people who are or were in this situation. Click Here to Join the Group and share your experience.

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