How I Met AJK MCRC

This is a strange story of fate and opportunity coming together. This is the story of being clueless about my future to sitting in one of India’s most prestigious media colleges. This is about my journey to Jamia’s AJK Mass Communication Research Centre.

So let me rewind a little.

Year 2013. I had finished my graduation in English literature with some months of MBA coaching thrown in for good measure. Though I didn’t opt for either in my post-graduation, the experience and knowledge of both really helped me in my media-college entrances. Most of the mass-communication/journalism entrances require logical and creative thinking, and my under-grad studies helped.

But that was not enough. To crack the entrance of a premier exam needs a lot of dedication and continued hard-work. After diluting all the other thoughts from my mind, I looked up the top 5 mass communication colleges in India and researched about their admission process, and the course structure. I finally applied to the Top 3 colleges: AJK MCRC, Jamia; IIMC; and Xavier’s, Mumbai. The results began pouring in soon. I made into all three of them – both written and personal interview cleared. God has been kind.
Aaqib Raza Khan in AJK MCRC

But God helps those who help themselves. Yes, I did work a lot towards this. No, I didn’t choose Jamia because of my religion. In fact, I should put something straight – to gain admission in Jamia, you need not be fluent in Urdu. And no, you won’t be amid a sea of skull-caps and black veils. To prepare for the written test, I read at least three newspapers every day. I went through opinion pieces online, picked up magazines and went through the current affairs. General Knowledge is any day a good add-on to your personality, and they help you broaden your horizon about the happenings in the world.

You should read about anything and everything which comes your way. Be it arts, literature, science, politics, entertainment or sports, be curious to know and learn. Knowledge never goes to waste.

Subjective exam for M.A Convergent Journalism (MACJ) was a little on the tougher side. It asked question related to internal politics of India as well as socio-political scenario in the outer world. It needed strong opinion based answers and if you had read up about the respective issues, then only you could have formulated the answers worth ’20 marks’. The subjective exam for M.A Mass Communication (MAMC), however, checked the imaginative and creative aspect of an applicant. It had questions related to story building and observation skills in the question paper. Compared to MACJ, MAMC exam felt like a cake-walk.

I was in a perpetual state of confusion – what to choose between MAMC and MACJ. I thought I will decide it according to the selection in interview list.

Oh! Then there were interviews. Oh God!

Interviews had this whole divine-devil feel to them. Interviews were supposed to decide my fate. What if the rest are more talented than me? What if my portfolio sucked?

Wait…PORTFOLIO! How to make a portfolio? What is a portfolio?

I was also quite clueless about the whole concept. But now since the experience has taught me, so I should give it forward.

Portfolio is a collection of all the work related experiences you may have gained throughout the year, which adds to your skills and knowledge base in some way. It can be anything, from your participation certificates to bylines published in a newspaper. If you are interested in any other creative arts, do include a sample. I pursue photography and graphic design, so I added some samples of my photographs as well as some designs I made for different occasions.

The portfolio and interview have a sufficient weight-age and therefore presentation is very important. Do keep it clean and organized. It is also important to carry both soft-copy and hard-copy of your portfolio to the interview.

The interview rounds in both MACJ and MAMC were similar. There’s a panel of 8-10 interviewers spread across the table. They throw one questions after another. You have to keep pace with them. If you feel they are going too fast, request them to slow down and politely tell them that you’ll take their question next.

I made it through both MACJ and MAMC in the final list, and it was now the time to choose. Initially leaning towards MAMC, I finally went towards MACJ. There were many reasons which brought me to this decision. MAMC was more technical-oriented with a focus on performance arts. In MACJ, there were modules of print, online, radio and television. MACJ was more relatable to me. I could use my designs for magazine productions, continue to pursue photography with a journalistic bent, and also able to keep up my writings, bettering all these skills on the way. This being a Masters degree was the reason to take up AJK MCRC over IIMC, New Delhi and Xavier’s, Mumbai, both of the latter had diploma programmes.

Quick tip: An interview ideally goes on for around 25-30 minutes. Maintain composure and a pleasant smile throughout. It is important to exude confidence. The questions are grilling; take your time to answer them. The course will be similarly fast-paced with a lot of pressure. The interview is a kind of gateway – if you stay resilient and are successful in maintaining your sanity, then welcome to a course which promises a new excitement every day.

[This was originally contributed to Jamia Journal]

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