Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Zumr-e-Fatima (ZF): I have a diverse academic profile. I completed my Bachelors in Economics from LCWU and later completed my MBA Executive from LSE with high distinction.
JWT: As everyone starts dreaming of a future career from childhood, so what were your dreams? Did you always aspire to be a CSP officer?
ZF: The ultimate question has always been about the purpose of life and serving the people. Ever since I can remember, service has always been there in my mind as it was, and still is, the best medium through which I can serve the people of my country, and give back to the society that has made me what I am today. So yes, becoming a CSP officer has been my childhood dream.
JWT: What feature of FSP attracted you most?
ZF: First of all, I’ll be highly honoured to get the opportunity to represent my country in international fora. Secondly, the Service provides officers with exposure to diverse cultures around the world. And, with the intellectual growth it offers, becoming a part of it is a dream come true.
JWT: How was your experience at the World Times Institute?
ZF: The faculty and administration of WTI were extremely helpful and they addressed all my queries. They provided me, and my batch-fellows, with relevant information and taught me the skills necessary to pass the CSS exam. My experience here with the mentors was definitely memorable in the most positive way.
Watch also Video Interview: Zumr-e-Fatima, Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP) 48th Position – CSS 2015
JWT: What, in your opinion, is the key to making a difference in written part of CSS exam?
ZF: Primarily, it’s all about grasping the question and comprehending exactly what has been asked, in addition to proper time management. Plus, aspirants must give to-the-point answers that must also exhibit their analytical abilities. They must not beat about the bush just to make the answers lengthy. Quality material and accurate facts, presented in a decent manner make all the difference.
JWT: Generally, compulsory subjects are considered low-scoring. What was your strategy to get through these very papers?
ZF: I linked the issues put up in form of questions, to current local, national, regional and international scenarios. I backed my arguments with the latest data and facts, and critically analyzed every topic. For English paper, I practiced one précis daily and it enhanced my skills in reading, comprehension, retention and phrasing things in my own words.
JWT: What were the toughest and the easiest parts in the whole process of CSS exam?
ZF: The toughest parts are definitely the preparation and the never ending wait for the result, and it is during such times, that I found the support of my family, friends and mentors immensely helpful. Sitting for the exams is actually the easier part.
JWT: What were the sources you consulted during the course of preparation?
ZF: For each subject, I read one comprehensive book written by a foreign author, preferably from amongst the recommended ones, along with Jahangir’s Exam Cram series. I made my own notes in bullet points and incorporated in them the updated facts and figures. In addition, I think reading Jahangir’s World Times magazine and daily Dawn is a must for all CSS aspirants.
JWT: How answers should be written to get maximum marks?
ZF: Most importantly, your answer must address the question with analytical reasoning and logical arguments. Starting with an impacting introduction, you should address each aspect of the question and link them all according to the question. The cohesion in the answer is significant. Finally, it should be concluded in a way that leaves an impact.
JWT: Should there be some word limit kept in mind while writing answers?
ZF: Time management rather than keeping in mind any word limit is crucial.
JWT: What were the mistakes you made in previous attempts?
ZF: Frankly, I took some portions of the exam lightly, thinking that I already knew those. In my third attempt, I rectified it by addressing all my weaknesses and it bore fruit.
JWT: How did you structure your Essay?
ZF: I made a detailed outline that had everything I was going to write on. I started off with a to-the-point introduction, dedicated one paragraph for every point in my outline and gave a suiting conclusion. I took great care for maintaining the cohesion in the essay.
My Interview Experience
My interview lasted for 50 minutes. The questions covered every single thing, be it my academic profile, my passion for trekking and summit-climbing, my professional experience in social sector, significance of Hijab in my life, optional subjects, and hypothetical cases. My answers were well-articulated, balanced and holistic in nature. I was confident, concise and I kept my cool even at the most testing points in the interview.
My Advice for fresh aspirants
Remain focused on the goals that you have set for yourself. Follow your timetables. Start improving your time management and keep working smart.