Stepping into the corporate world

This post is actually an article published in the college magazine this week, which I decided to post here, after all permissions from the editor :) So here is the gyaan:

Every year, as you step into the final year of engineering, you gear up for that all-important placement. You go through loads of books on aptitude, puzzles, wordlists… and of course, your own course textbooks. After a long agonizing wait, you clear the written test, the group discussions, the interview, and finally your name appears on the list of the select few --- the chosen ones. And you think that finally all that (hard work?) paid off. You are wrong: the story just begins when you think it ends.

Before I trail off into the gyaan that I so much love to dish out, let me introduce myself and what this article will be about. My name is Sudipta Chatterjee, and I am a passout from your college, Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat. I received official confirmation of my bachelorhood in Computer Engineering in 2004, and then joined Accenture (you’ll find my photo on the PPT when they come to recruit at the campus). What will follow in the rest of the article will be a set of things I wish someone had told me when I was about to join this place. They are based not just on my experiences, but also on the experiences of most of my friends who joined other organisations. But this will not be a set of do’s and don’ts… it will be a chronicle of my and others’ little stories from life so far. It is your job to gather the do’s and don’ts from them. Also, this will be related mostly to the experiences of your seniors who have stepped into software or consulting organisations, but I believe that they will be helpful for others as well who step into what we locally call the ‘core’ companies.

The most enjoyable part of joining is the initial training period. In some cases, such as TCS and Infosys where you have a separate campus exclusively for trainees, it is what people call a ‘paid vacation’. In case of the rest of the people, such as Accenture or PCS, the fairytale (read company-provided luxury accommodation) lasts only till the time that you do not find your own houses. Anyway, this is the time when the sudden fun of telling yourself that you earn for yourself sets in. With no worries and not a care in the world, all you need to do is to attend trainings and inductions (which rather enhance the feel-good factors about the company), it is indeed the happy-go-lucky days of your life at their best.
There is a myth that I know of --- that people from computer engineering have an edge over people from other organisations when they join these software companies. The answer is both yes and no. The yes part comes in because when you are left to design something, a person who has been doing small designs for himself for the last four years of his life will be at ease. But please do not be alarmed --- most of us engineers thank heavens at least once a day for the wonderful key combinations invented which go by the names of Control-C and Control-V. Besides, it takes more time to unlearn things than to learn new bits.

Another popular ‘worry’ that most of us invent is like this: “Should I go into mainframes, or should Java be better? Will the market of data warehousing remain after 10 years? I don’t want to go into Testing, for God’s sake!!” Believe me, it should be the last of your worries. The reason behind this is that the software industry does not see any skill going into oblivion in the next 30-40 years at least. And testing is not all that bad --- I know toppers from IIT Kanpur find their ‘testing’ jobs quite challenging at Microsoft! So the moral of the story is that you need to keep an open mind about the technology you go into, unless you have won national competitions in some programming language.
One important part of getting accustomed to the corporate life is growing in confidence – to be able to feel oneself as belonging to the organisation rather than being awed by the occasion. It is essentially the simple task of forgetting the ‘Sir’ culture and being able to talk to a Senior Manager by addressing him with his first name. It feels a bit queer at first, but once you get accustomed to it, you actually will be surprised to hear the ‘Sir’ word sometime later. Once you have become one of them, you will notice that you can easily tell who is a fresher into the organisation. It is a whole change of body language, almost as good as the difference between a sophomore and a first year student in the ragging days!

We were once asked to guess how much we thought interpersonal skills mattered compared to technical skills for progress in corporate life. Stop before you read ahead and try to guess yourself: how much do you think? 50:50? 30:70? Sorry, you are off the mark. The ratio by which your interpersonal and communication skills matter compared to your technical skills is 80 is to 20, believe it or not. And I can affirm that it is true. Being ‘fundu’ doesn’t help too much, unless you can communicate clearly to the other person what you think, and thereby let him (or her ;) ) know that you are indeed ‘fundu’. Also, what matters more is how you can talk off the work hours than while you are on the work hours. How quickly you can go ahead and meet people frankly, how easily you mingle into the crowd. And in the end, it does add up to a lot.

Another aspect of stepping into the arena is to face the truth --- to be honest to yourself when you are here. If you do not understand a concept, raise it then and there! Keep raising it unless you have it crystal clear --- even if it means asking the person a hundred times over. Once into the organisation, you are on your own and not a part of the herd. So you cannot copy from your friend when the time comes to deliver, because unlike the college, you and your friend have two completely different components assigned to you --- they form pieces of the larger whole. The whole idea is that it is better to become intelligent by confessing that you do not understand than to sit on the doubt and remain dumb.

Finally, the last word --- as you start earning, you become independent. It is the sudden feeling of becoming a king from a pauper. I know that it feels nice to see that balance in your account, to be able to see things in five figures from the college days of having a permanent two-digit balance. But here lies the catch --- there is a need to restrain yourself from frittering it all away. You should not deny yourself the pleasures of being financially independent, but it is equally important that you grow from a boy to a man, and learn that each rupee you earn is hard-earned money. You are getting paid not just for the last month you worked for, but for the tremendous achievement of having studied for sixteen years or more and having come out victorious…. All right, let’s end this on a happy note. Most of you have dreams of making it big --- of CAT and GRE and of being sent onsite. Believe me, it is possible. There is enough time for that --- only you should never lose sight of your ultimate goal. And just for your information, this is being typed at Edinburgh, Scotland. Yes, you read it right --- I am onsite!! ?

Comments

  1. Yaay!! First to comment!

    Bird's eyeview of the whole scene Sudipta, thats what you have given us here.

    Hey you, you missed the Mumbai Meet :-(

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  2. Wow! You've presented a really great view on the Episode of "The Moulding of a Fresher"
    It was A really interesting read.

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  3. Yeah Sudipta,
    We are just few months away from reachin that professional world.

    But do keep in touch, I'll always need your advice in whatever I do..

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  4. Evenstar, yaay!! You're here after so long :)

    Thanks... the bird's eye-view was the intent. And I really missed the Mumbai meet :((

    Vivekanand, thanks a lot, man! Glad it struck a chord with you.

    Jeevan, you are indeed, and it is a funny world out here, as you will no doubt discover.

    My advice!! Sure!! Anytime !! :)

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  5. Hi Sudipta,
    Dont know if u will remember me...coz am writting after quite long....so I just updated myself by reading all ur blogs rite from december where I left it...in the mid was really busy with the admissions process for a PHD in Molecular Biology...which rite now looks like a bleak dream..anyways...so when will u be back in India??and 1 more thing I am lil confused...how come u landed in Eddingburg rather than USA for ur PHD??
    But other than that as usual ur posts are as always too good to read..enjoyed them a lot..keep it up...u do have a good writting skill...
    Take care

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  6. Oindrilla, hi... I do remember people who come and comment here! And yes, you are writing after quite a long time. Even your own blog has not been updated.

    BTW, did you really manage to read everything from December!! Yaay!! I finally have a follower! :)

    And... I am not doing my PhD here, I am just here for my job, onsite! :)

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  7. You being of great help inspite of being there eh?
    You soooo lucky!

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  8. Frankly I did feel the same (importance of Interpersonal skills) even during my engineering days, when I used to go to other colleges and present my Ideas. Now I know how important interpersonal skills are; maybe I will feel its importance now on as I get ready for my College again.


    PS: I'm going to email this post to my friends, If you don't mind.

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  9. Poornaa, err... I think I should be called generous or great or something like that, and not lucky, given your definition! :) But I am lucky as well! Thanks :)

    Vivekanand, yes, they are dead-important.

    And you will be forwarding my post to your friends? You are more than welcome. I always love publicity!

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  10. Hey Sudipta Thats the thing I like most in You ..U are very promt with ur replies...i've updated my blog y'day after commenting on urs...but I wanted to know where are u going for ur PhD? or have u left the plan??

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  11. Poornaa, yes, thanks!

    Oindrilla, now, please allow me to interpret your comment: You like a lot of things about me, and my being prompt about replies is one of them (the best part). THANK YOU VERY MUCH!! Basically I keep hunting for comments on my blog... so I read the almost as soon as (or within a day after) you post it. Thats the secret!

    Will visit your blog soon... right now some more commenting to do on my own! :)

    And my PhD is very much on the plan for my future... haven't dropped the plan, and will hunt for whatever good responses I get there. 2 good MS admits till now.

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  12. Hey if u dont mind and it doesnt sound toooo much then I wud like to say that I like ur pics too. Keep posting them.Specially that castle is so so lovely...

    Good to hear that u still plan for ur PhD.Keep writing when ever u get time.

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  13. Oindrilla, I don't mind, and it doesn't 'sount' too much. So pics will be posted.

    Yups.. the PhD is still there. Can't live without my books! :)

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  14. Hey.. good one! Agreed wid all tat u said! Its all abt how much u can convey rather than how much u know!

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  15. ur very very wise sudipta...i cant believe it!!!From ur blogs I had an impression that u r at least in ur late twenties...ur a 2004 passout..i just cant digest it!!!
    This one was fabulous..i loved it.And by the way training at Infy is not a paid vacation....especially for non IT people.They give you all facilities but no time to njoi it!!!!!!!

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  16. Bristi, abhi to mai jawaan hoon... bus kuchh kilo ka sawaal hai! :)

    Thanks... and for non-IT people, well, there has to be some learning curve :)

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  17. hmm .. that is a bit asserting for guys like me now :) ... But I think U r talking abt surviving here in this industry... If u ve a good communication skill u can grow much faster in some other proffession than a s/w engg...wat say ?

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  18. Vinod, yeah... communication skills are definitely an asset to have anywhere in the corporate world. But I am not so sure about other professions.. especially in comparison

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  19. I guess U did skipped the last line of my blog :) ..it is just a dream !! ..:D

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  20. Really need to take some advice from this post, although i dont belong to this industry but still induction phases are really looovely and this squandering money all the while goes true with me.but i genuinely feel that any fresher should just be a spendthrift for the first year of their job(something that am doing rite now ;).

    rest of the life its all about savings and investments.......

    after all......enjoy life....aal iz well!!!!

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  21. Vinod, very late reply to your comment, but okay, whatever you say! :)

    Shagufta, wow.. you are another person going through the archives! :) It is okay to pamper yourself for a while: you've earned it. Just make sure you don't squander it all away :)

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