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This Is The Hard Truth About Becoming A CA...

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

I come from a small city called Tohana in the state of Haryana. This is where I attended school. Subjects like science and math were not my cup of tea. Instead, I found myself drawn towards the business side of things, which is why commerce felt like the right choice for me. There was nothing else I could take up, and commerce related well to my interests.

When I finished school, I got 91% in my exams. It was a good score, but not high enough for the top colleges in Delhi University. I felt really confused about what career to choose instead of just getting a degree! Like many other students, I searched online day and night on Google to find out my options. That's when I found out about the CPT (Common Proficiency Test). It seemed interesting, so I decided to give it a try without studying much.

Fortunately, I cleared the CPT exam and relocated to Delhi to prepare for the IPCC through coaching. The next nine months were incredibly tough, with classes starting as early as 6 a.m. and sometimes going on until 10 p.m. It was an intense schedule, but teachers like Ajay Jain sir and Ashish Kalra sir were so motivating that the hard work never felt unbearable. Their guidance helped me clear IPCC in the first attempt itself.

The next big struggle was getting an articleship. In class, we were always told how difficult it is to get one at a big firm. I had no connections with the big firms at that time.

So, I started applying everywhere, sending my resume to every CA firm I could find. After numerous efforts, I finally landed an articleship with Luthra and Luthra Chartered Accountants in Delhi in 2015.

However, I struggled with the long work hours and the nature of work at Luthra. It just wasn't the right fit for me. So after 2 months there, I took a transfer and joined the Global Business Tax department at Deloitte in 2016. It was quite an adjustment, as the work culture was very different from smaller firms like Luthra. It took me around 2–3 months to settle in and understand how things worked at a big firm like Deloitte.

Once I got the hang of things, the next year and a half went smoothly. I spent a lot of time at tax offices like the Civic Centre or CR building, tagging along with my manager and team. Our main job was to give advice on tricky tax stuff like royalties and fees for technical services. Instead of just doing basic tasks like filing tax returns, we did a lot of research on court cases, understood how they affected things, and looked up different tax laws and books. This involved in-depth research, exceeding the typical tax filing tasks.

In 2018, due to some health and family reasons, I had to move back to my hometown to complete the remaining articleship period there. This transition was challenging in its own way.

Now comes the biggest challenge: the CA final exams. I made my first attempt in November 2018, and unfortunately, I failed badly, scoring only around 200 out of 800 marks. It was a terrible setback after all the hard work over the years. In May 2019, I missed the passing marks by a small margin. I finally cleared Group 2 in November 2019. But Group 1 remained pending as the May 2020 exams got cancelled due to COVID-19. With relentless preparation, I managed to clear Group 1 in November 2020, becoming a qualified chartered accountant at last. 

Looking back, this journey was incredibly tough. There were so many moments of self-doubt, loneliness, and negative emotions. People criticised me a lot, especially when I failed. They made me feel worthless. But I learned that you have to fight your own battles. No one is going to come and save you. Negative feelings are inevitable in this process. Even close ones may not be there for you during bad times. Only my parents and maybe 2-3 close friends supported me unconditionally.

The hard truth is that no one values you until you qualify as a CA, no matter what you try to tell them. This crushed me at times, but it also taught me that I'm solely responsible for my own life. Depending on others will only lead to disappointment. When you fail, no one cares except yourself. This is why you have to have the courage to get through the bad phase and remain strong.

I always thought I would qualify for CA with a rank on the first attempt itself. But life happened; things unfolded in their own way and in their own time. We can't take anything for granted.

My biggest guidance for anyone on this path is: if you want to qualify, do not leave any questions unanswered in your practice.

I worked on all questions from the RTPs, MTPs, and the previous year's suggested answers religiously. You never know which question will appear, so it's best to be fully prepared.

This course has seen students stuck for as long as 10–15 years. So the journey can test your patience and perseverance. My routine was pretty odd; I used to study at night and sleep around 7-8 a.m. But my parents supported me tremendously, providing for my every need and want. Some days, I felt really down, while other days, I was super motivated.

At one point, I started sharing my journey on LinkedIn. While the initial response was lukewarm, over time, it picked up. I started getting requests from senior people like CEOs, CFOs, partners, etc. It felt amazing to receive such overwhelming appreciation for my story of perseverance.

The criticism from those who don't understand this journey is harsh; they make you feel like you are good for nothing when you fail initially.

But the reality is that success has many fathers, while failure is often an orphan. People latch on to your success but don't own up to your failures. This is why, no matter what, you should try clearing this qualification as soon as possible. Not for anyone else, but solely for yourself and your self-belief.

I hope sharing my story gives some insight into the realities and emotional turmoil faced while pursuing this dream. It's a long road, but those who persevere emerge victorious in the end. Never give up!

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