From Working at Student to Becoming a Professional

My Early Days at Work

Those of you who read my first post will know that I was fortunate to secure my first job at ansrsource. My first day at ansr was on 4th July 2016. After general formalities, I was introduced to the corporate culture through a series of trainings, meetings, psychometric tests, and documentations on the HR drive. This orientation lasted for more than a week.

People ask me “how different is corporate life from college life?” They are similar in some ways and different in others. Let me tell you a short story. I had the privilege of studying in a college that was inherently super strict about anything and everything. One day, my college helped launch a satellite (true story). The next day, there were memes floating around the campus saying, “the satellite was called back to Earth because it forgot the ID card.”  

Living the Rule-Based Life

A common argument in favor of ID cards is that it helps you know a person’s name you’ve met for the first time. Doesn’t anyone find it weird looking around a person’s belly button for their name? If it’s on a lanyard, you’re staring around a person’s belly button to figure out who they are where they’re form. If it’s on a reel or strap clip, you’re a 5-second stare away from a harassment complaint. What happened to the old-fashioned method of asking people for their names, (which you do) anyway? I had never liked wearing ID cards, neither in college nor in the organisation.

Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

Following rules, on the other hand, were never an issue for me. Exceptionally well-planned leaves, maintaining swipe card hours, doing things on time, etc. were already drummed into me from childhood. I guess that’s how our education system has been designed. It had prepared me for a lifetime of corporate employment. I read all the documents with utmost attention and attended all the meetings with dedication.

My ansr journey is filled with interesting and funny (at least to me) stories. I was hired for a project that had not yet begun. So, to utilize my idle time, I was trained by a few of my seniors to work on an interim project. I was into the third week of my job and a few others joined my team. Once the “newbies” joined, I was requested to impart my immense, newly acquired knowledge to my new team-mates. Apparently, while I was training these two guys, they understood nothing of what I said, but they didn’t say anything. They would go on to become my close friends. Later, I came to know that they thought I had been working with the company for the past 2 or 3 years, so they didn’t want to question me.

The Complication of Workplace Friendships

Making close friends at your workplace has its own complications. You end up with a few lifelong friends! At the same time, it is not necessary that they continue to work with you forever. One day, they will move out, and the workplace won’t be same as before. I still miss the Friday night dinner parties I use to have at home with my friends.

Pav Bhaji for 6, by Paritosh

In my three years with ansr, I saw my share of people joining and leaving. You suddenly start feeling old and heavy, and even Gods would not know the reason. By heavy, I also mean literally heavy. I gained close to 12 kgs within three years. Was it happiness? Was it all the soda in the caterer’s food? The debate ensues.

Graphs Can Represent Many Concepts – Including My Worklife

In MBA, we study about product life cycle in many different subjects. I believe my productivity at work followed a similar trend. When I was new and fresh, bursting with energy, I was churning out my potential exponentially. Eventually, that dwindled and got stabilized. If I would have continued to work, sooner or later, I would have been asked to leave because of my deteriorating productivity day after day.

There was a fun part to working at a learning solutions company though. ansr had a world-class Learning and Development team, so I had a great opportunity to learn something new every day! Thus, nominating myself for all those training programs was my best opportunity to break the monotony at work and learn something new. I attended various sessions: Giving and Receiving Feedback, Time Management, Art of Public Speaking, Soft Skills, English Grammar, Java Programming, Six Sigma, Quality Testing, Train The Trainer, and the list goes on.

Engaging with School Kids

I was also a part of the CSR initiative at ansr – ansrcares. The most memorable part of my experience was our weekly visit to teach school kids. Interacting with the little ones each week was a lesson for me to remain curious and a lifelong learner.

My Growth Spurts as an Individual

I grew up in the true sense while I was working. I had my own money to spend. I could go anywhere. I was taking my parents for pilgrimage. I had my own studio apartment. But I always loved to live “the beg, borrow, and steal life” that I am living again now (we’ll come back to this in another post). By that I mean stealing cheap deals at Darshini stalls for Pongal and Puris, walking kilometres to save on bus/auto fare, or getting a cycle to commute in Bangalore. My friends would often joke about my spending habits. They would tell me I save so much that the Government would soon start taxing me for my savings.

Apart from the money, team lunches, annual parties, bonuses, rewards, and other benefits you receive from a full-time job, you also get to meet different varieties of people. I read a quote that said, “in the world there are 2% of people who can stay good in any situation, 2% can be cruel in any, and rest 96% can be swayed in any direction by the majority.” This phase of life was when I really started introspecting who I am, and who I want to be. I also started picking up traits from other people that made me admire them.

I learned that to keep your life stable, you need to continuously work on strengthening your relationships with family, friends, and your work. If you have these as strong pillars, I believe, you can face any calamity in life. 

All Good Things Come to An End

Things were moving swimmingly along, but nothing lasts forever. Exactly at the middle of my career, i.e. 1.5 years, I got promoted. That was the point when the real problems of my life started creeping in. This was the decline phase in my product life cycle as a corporate employee. All through my work life, I never really went into depth of anything, and that started showing cracks in the quality of work I did. Also, there were personal issues that started effecting my performance. I was unable to juggle through various personal and professional responsibilities. I received feedback citing my casual approach towards work! And if I were given more responsibilities, people won’t take me seriously.

Crossroads

I reached the crossroads and was unable to figure out what I wanted to do in my life. I wanted to take some time off and a break. So, I decided to pursue the rigors of an academic life. Again. You may call it an escape or a new learning opportunity, but I decided to prepare for MBA exams.

The Bright side of Being a Student Once More

Now, I am a student once more, with negligible responsibilities. I have realised that I had been systematically destroying my reward system with junk food, coffee, and high pitch music. I thought that indulging in these things used to give me happiness. Things couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I believe this was the beginning of the end.

PS: Of course, I did not reach this conclusion in a day. Living from weekend-to-weekend as an employee, I rarely gave myself an opportunity to look back at my own life. If I’d spent as much time programming my life or QCing my work life as much as I’d spent on a single program, things may have turned out differently. It took a lot of contemplation for me to reach this conclusion after I joined my MBA. Albeit, I’m better off for having not reached this conclusion earlier. I’m currently having a great time pursuing my MBA. Switching from a full-time job back to the academic world might sound enticing, but it’s not all roses. It has its own charms and challenges, and I’ll be back to talk about these in my next post.
#self-isolated at NITT.

Vivek Rai
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