The 26-year-old Hyderabad-born, Delhi-raised economics graduate staged the most staggering of comebacks to take the top rank in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams (2022) after not making it to even the prelims in her two previous attempts.
There was nothing fortuitous about it, though. Just relentless hard work and keeping up the self-belief.
On Tuesday, as the results were declared, Ishita’s “main pillar of support” was right by her side to celebrate the historic moment – her mother Jyoti who raised her by herself since she was six.
Ishita’s path to living her dream of becoming an IAS officer and working for the country, particularly in enabling more women to join the workforce, had just opened up wide and no one knew how much it meant to her more than Jyoti, who described it as the “best day of my life”.
The change in her UPSC fortunes, says Ishita, came from a strategy shift. This time, she made her own notes and study material. “I also attended online classes for my third attempt. Understanding the crux of the subject matter is key. My suggestion to all aspirants is to chart a detailed study schedule. Using the right sources of information is crucial. I studied for 8-9 hours a day,” she says.
UPSC Civil Services Result: Ishita Kishore Secures All India Rank 1
Along with the main subjects, she opted for political science and international relations. But it wasn’t all books for her. Ishita loves, and plays, football – she participated in the Subroto Cup in 2012. She also got her share of ‘entertainment’ from social media.
“Family and friends are very important in life. I would never suggest that anyone isolate themselves to prepare for any exam. Otherwise, once the exams are over, there will be no one with whom you can share your success or failure. During my preparation, I didn’t detach myself from social media or missed family gatherings. But I did dedicate most of my time to studying. Balancing these factors is very important,” Ishita says.
“My earlier attempts helped me learn that there will always be ups and downs in life. I learnt from my mistakes and knew what not to do in my third attempt,” she adds
She enjoyed the interview round, since it gave her an opportunity to combine her two loves – football and an IAS job. “My favourite question was ‘How can you utilise sports in administration?’ The first thing I said was that civil servants don’t work in isolation, but in teams, which one can learn from sports. Secondly, you learn to accept success and setbacks in sports. It also gives you perseverance to continue,” she says.
Ishita studied in Air Force Bal Bharti School, Delhi, and graduated in economics (hons) from Shri Ram College of Commerce in 2017. Her father, Sanjay Kishore, was a wing commander in the Indian Air Force. He passed away when she was six. Her mother, a school teacher, has now retired.
After working as a risk advisor for consulting firm Ernst & Young for two years, Ishita quit her job in 2019 to prepare for the UPSC exams. “Working at the corporate firm only strengthened my desire to serve the nation. I realised that I needed a bigger platform for that, which only UPSC could provide,” she said.
Ishita, Jyoti and younger brother Ishaan now live at Jalvayu Vihar in Greater Noida.
“I always wanted to see my daughter in this position. When a student appears for the UPSC exams, it is her whole family that prepares. Supporting her was my top priority. After failing two times, she had broken a bit. In her third attempt, her determination reached new heights.” Jyoti says.