The selection of career in India is mostly a family driven choice rather than an individual preference. Children, as the trope goes, get tagged either as an Engineer or a Doctor by the family soon as they are born.
How Another Engineer Was Born
I too grew up in such a family and was “destined” to become an engineer. While choosing my specialization, I asked my sister (who became an Electrical Engineer, thereby meeting her destiny) about the stream that I should be choosing. She knew my capabilities in the true sense! So, she suggested, “you won’t be able to finish engineering if you consider taking Electrical or Electronics related specializations. Best stick with ‘Civil’ or ‘Mechanical’.”
Contemplating, I realized that I did have some interest in machines and vehicles. So, Mechanical Engineering became the obvious choice. Expectations met with reality and eventually, semester after semester, I was waiting desperately for my course to end. This struggle, however, is a different story and is worth separate post. For now, I will focus on the job hunt part of my engineering life story.
Prepping for Placement Season in College
Fast forward to the end of my third year, the placement season had begun. We were asked to update and upgrade our CVs by the placement coordinator. Get a decent looking email id and a check list of documents that might interest the recruiters, we were told. All these “coolguy846” type of email ids wouldn’t work.
I was excited. I replaced my email id from ‘searchingvivek2903” with “vivekrai.pes” and went to avenue road (Bangalore) to buy a file folder to carry my documents. Even formals were bought, pressed, and readied. I was going to dazzle them with my CV and my attire. Dazzle mode on!
A Slight Detour
I will add an irrelevant, albeit interesting, detail to this story. Our college was in Electronic City (Bangalore South), and all the placement activities were carried out in main campus (Bangalore West). These two locations were 20 KM apart. Getting from one location to another meant crossing some of the busiest roads and junctions of the city and could cost you more than 2 hrs and a 70 rupees day pass. Legends say that while Mangalyaan was making the trip to Mars, some folks were just trying to make their way home in Bangalore traffic. Equally arduous, just one more momentous than the other.
I (not alone though) used to take a detour from Nice Road (31 Km) by taking a lift till Nayandahalli Gate. I have hitched a ride in trucks, tempo travellers, pickup trucks, empty cabs, anything that passed the road. The rate was fixed; 20 rupees for 31 km! Many may see this as struggle, but I believe this is the best part of my story. I have come across many successful people saying something similar. From the outside it may look as “struggle”, but it was actually the most “fun” part of their life.
Facing the First Rejections in My Life
I faced my first rejection at Infosys. Reason? My aggregate percentage was not up to the mark (pun unintended). Accenture conducted interviews for 700 candidates, and selected close to 400, but I was not in the list. Being rejected by a mass recruiter and remembering the fact that I belonged to a core branch, felt depressing. It felt as if this was my only chance to get recruited, and I had lost it.
Cracking the written round for these companies was never an issue for me. I still remember, crystal clear, the failure I faced during the Group Discussion round at Capgemini. The executive conducting the recruitment process asked us not to take this rejection personally. Later, my friends gave me feedback saying I was acting very desperate during the discussion. Don’t desperate times call for desperate measure though? Other companies like Centurylink, Neudesik, Musigma, Godot Media, few merchant navy companies, and a cement manufacturing company too rejected me.
It was a depressing period as the crowd with whom I was attending these processes, thinned out after each recruitment drive. My profile went up on job hunting websites as the placement season came to an end in college. At this point, I was ready to accept any job, including talking to strangers and trying to sell them something they didn’t want to buy. I thought they won’t accept me either.
Good Things Come, Eventually, to the Ones Who Wait
One fortunate day, based on my profile, I got a call from an HR for the profile of technical author. Author? Me? Anyway, it was appealing to me as I have been a curious reader all my life. Now was the time to switch roles. The written test was for an hour, and the interview process was about an hour and half! Had they continued for even a little bit longer, I would have simply requested them to keep their job and let me go. Thankfully, I was wise enough to not make such request and got selected!
I was surprised to realise the reason of my success this time. It felt, being a fresher, I never crafted my resume for the recruiter’s requirement earlier. I’d put up a catch-all resume listing everything I’d ever done and listed all my education, but never really tailored it to a job. I was never confident enough, and I never focussed on why anyone should hire me. I learned a lesson the hard way. It could have been easier, if only I had asked for help!
Like all happy endings, I too was happy at the end, with the offer letter in my hand. Reflecting on this experience, I can say “it was indeed possible.”
PS: Little did I know that Life had already lined up other lessons for me in store. Watch out for the second part of this series.
- From Working at Student to Becoming a Professional - June 23, 2020
- How I Landed My First Job as a Technical Author - June 17, 2020