His parents, like most other Bihari parents, were more concerned with the dowry element. An IIT graduate can bring in as much as thirty lakh rupees to the house…
Buds has never been sure what he wants to do in life. He entered IIT because IITs are a gateway for the middle class to enhanced economic prosperity. His parents, like most other Bihari parents, were more concerned with the dowry element. An IIT graduate can bring in as much as thirty lakh rupees to the house with a bonus bride to do the chores.
No doubt, Buds has been confused all the time at IIT. He saw people aspiring for management schools and started preparing for the same. After a fortnight he realised his English is beyond redemption and so dropped the plan. At one point in time he wanted to write the GRE and go abroad for higher studies, and this time all was going well. Alas, he messed up with his graduation project and the project guide made it clear that Buds shouldn’t expect any recommendation from him.
Very soon Buds got fascinated with the civil service. His family encouraged him with the hope of getting an enhanced dowry package. He was entranced by the facilities and powers enjoyed by a civil servant; the biggest attraction, however, was the under-table transactions.
No lunch is free; in much the same way no job waits for you. It took a long time for Buds to realise that aspiring is easier than actually clearing the civil service exams. A three-staged recruitment process ranging over a year and an average success rate of around one in ten thousand wasn’t Buds’ cup of tea. He dumped the dreams of being a civil servant for good.
But no! Buds’ story isn’t over yet. In fact it starts now, given that campus placement has just begun. Buds hates software jobs – “I will be made to work like a dog for every penny I get” – to quote Buds. Buds had many favourable elements in his CV. He had a good grade point average and was from the electronics department. He was convinced that companies were waiting just for him and so resolved that he would enter one of those high-paying management or oil companies.
Buds got himself some formal wear – made a lot of fuss on the shirt-trousers colour combination and invested generously in tie and shoes. He is now ready to grab his dream job.
HLL and Lehmon Brothers scanned him out in the CV stage itself. He managed to enter the group discussion level in ITC but couldn’t make any headway from there as the only thing he did was nod his head while others did the talking. That day Buds resolved not to smoke ITC-made cigarettes any longer. After the first interview round at Schlumberger, which he couldn’t clear, Buds realised the importance of extra-curricular activities to get him into the FMCG or oil sectors. He immediately used his well-placed contacts to get certificates certifying that he was an Inter-IIT gold medallist in football. Friends suggested, looking at the unusual anatomy he had, that he take volleyball or cricket, but he settled for nothing less that football.
The interviewers from Shell were extremely pleased. Good at academics, good at sports and good at hall activities (he had apparently got a certificate issued from the hall that he was general secretary of the mess).
“What position do you play in football?”
Buds drew a blank at that first question. He had mugged up the names of many clubs and players but he had just forgotten to memorize the game.
“I… I think… no, I was the goal keeper.”
“I guessed so, looking at your build.”
Buds didn’t sound very convincing. Luckily the person facing him also wasn’t good at football and so Buds wasn’t grilled much on the topic.
“During my graduation days mess food was horrible. Tell me what your responsibilities are as a mess secretary?” the interviewer asked.
“A… eeh… uh… well… Supervising the cooks,” Buds mumbled.
“Ok, thank you. It has been a pleasure meeting you.” Translation: “Get out. You’ve already wasted much of my time.”
A wise man is he who learns from experiences. Buds dumped the forged certificates and got ready for an assault on core electronics companies – Intel, Ittiam, Sandisk, Samsung and Philips, to name a few. He then realised that he had maintained a good grade point average by taking the easy elective subjects and by taking more subjects in other departments, and that he was no good at embedded systems or image processing. Worse, each company had its own specialization to quiz him on; to learn a dozen elective subjects – RF communication, VLSI, Multimedia, etc – in a few days is an uphill task.
After facing the interview board of such companies Buds realized the importance of the grad project even if you aren’t applying for higher studies. But it was too late and almost all core companies had gone. From now on, software companies, big and small, will parade into the campus and will take away truck-loads of cheap labour.
Mind you, there is variety in software companies also. There are start-ups that give stock options and a decent pay; then there are the multinationals that pay you six lacs+ per year and make you do work worth fifteen; the BPOs that practically end up changing your body rhythm; and last but not the least our very own Infosys, Wipro and Satyam which, as per a popular rhyme in campus, pay quite enough to manage:
Two square meals a day
A modest room to stay
And a blanket to keep the winters at bay
If you spend prudently (by taking one meal a day and supplementing the room by a cell) you may save something for your insurance policy also.
Coming back to our hero, Buds, we aren’t quite sure if he wasn’t tempted to sit for Infy or Wipro but he finally managed to abstain from these firms. He sat for Oracle, D.E. Shaw and Goldman Sachs technical positions. From Oracle he learnt that you can’t predict the future, that is, the questions they ask in technical rounds. From D.E. Shaw he learnt that you are either right or wrong in a technical interview, but in the HR interview you think you are right but you are wrong.
The Goldman Sachs interview went quite well. Buds is a wise man who learns from his mistakes and doesn’t repeat them. After the HR round, he was asked if he had any questions. He frankly said he had none. Of course he had none. He was ready to work in a coal mine for the brand name of Goldman. Goldman Sachs didn’t take him. Someone pointed out that if you don’t ask them any questions, the company thinks you are desperate. “Isn’t it enough that I answer all their untoward questions? Do I have to ask them some too?” Buds had practically shouted in frustration that day.
And the story continued… clouds came and went but Buds saw no rain, very much like Mithun Da’s movies.
There were many moisture-laden clouds
But no rain for Buds
Oracle, D.E. Shaw and Goldman
But no gold for our man
Then comes a company
(*Name misspelt to protect narrator against litigation)
By this time Buds is qualified enough to write the book ‘How to face an interview board’. He now regularly checks the websites of all companies he sits for and calls up seniors in the company to get inputs on the nature of work the company does. He finds that Simpany is a reputed US firm with a back-end office in Bangalore. Besides, most of the students in competition had already got jobs and, due to the one-student-one-job norm of the institute, couldn’t sit for another campus interview. Buds was now the king of donkeys.
“I want to be the CEO of Simpany someday.” A classmate had impressed the panel of another company by saying this but with all due respect to Buds’ copy-and-paste ability, he was being recruited at an off-shore office of Simpany and aspiring for the post of CEO was just too ambitious.
Perhaps the interviewer also thought so. “Do you know who the present CEO of Simpany is?”
Buds again managed to make a fool of himself. He had mugged everything from the website except this small bit of information.
The interviewer moved on: “Do you have any questions?”
“Sir, can you tell me about the work culture at Simpany?” Buds asked even though his expression meant: “Just take me in. I have been wearing these formals for three months now and am ready to work for any company. Oh, I regret the day I didn’t sit for the Infy and Wipro interviews! I will do whatever work you ask me to – software, hardware, carry bricks and cement, clean the toilets or serve food – whatever you say.”
It seems like the company was in need of many quality students (some companies have a notion that students from IITs have a lot of grey cells) and so recruited almost all who had applied for the job. The pay wasn’t as good as Buds had aspired when placement season had started. In fact, the pay wasn’t half as good as he had aspired then, still it was a good company, and Buds found out a dozen odd reasons to convince himself and friends and family that he got his dream job!
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