Monday, August 18, 2014

Full Circle

Ten days since the last time I wrote…
Ten days since that eventful day at Microsoft (MS)…
Ten days…

Honestly, I can be very stubborn at times. I want things to go my way. Yet sometimes, when they do, it leaves me wide-eyed. And that is exactly how I was when they broke the news, “…and you have driven results in a manner that Microsoft expects. We’ll be happy to have you here with us. Congratulations!”

I can never forget these words simply for the change they’ve brought about in my life. A change so significant, I haven’t still realized its full potential.

It is common knowledge that Engineering students in their final year have to go through a rigorous placement process. The process demands strength on all fronts, academic, behavioral and emotional. You have to come out strong, be better than all others, in order to get that job. Being placed right at the start of this crucial year has indeed saved me from this dreadful exercise.

However, the changes I feel creeping into my life are far more significant. For once, I am not continually worried about my future. I have a certain reassurance that things can’t go terribly wrong now. It gives a spring to my step, a sparkle to my eyes. I feel in control of my life after a very long time.

All of a sudden, we are the celebrities in college. Everybody wants to talk to us, meet with us. When your hard work gets appreciated, it definitely feels good. When appreciation comes from strangers, you’re on cloud nine. However, I still have my two feet firmly on the ground. I’m waiting to hear from my friends who are destined for places greater than MS. When news of their success comes… that is when I will be on that metaphoric cloud.

Talking about those who didn’t make it… for the past three years, I’ve been in that category. All through my school life I’ve been at top of my class. It was a real shocker for everyone around me when I didn’t get an A+ result in my engineering entrances. After a few weeks, it was my turn to be shocked. People who swore to be my best buddies deserted me. People who got into better colleges stopped calling up. Even parents of kids pursuing worthless courses in fames institutions turned up their nose. People changed. It hurt. A lot…

Yet it taught me an important life lesson; I learnt to see the genuineness (or the lack thereof) in people. I learnt to differentiate between friends, workplace associations, acquaintances and those who will jump ship at the slightest trouble. I learnt that people’s worth can’t be measured by the grades they score or by the college they attend. After all, one might have a bright mind but a rotten heart.

In these three years, my transformation has been total and complete. Good that I didn’t get into an elite college, good that I was named the non-performer, good, good and good… After all, it has helped me improve. And even though life has come a full circle and I’m in the most-coveted achiever’s club once again, I know it is just temporary. I know my people. I know I am not one of those who judge.

I would like to end with this thought, “Never doubt a person’s capability. You never know when it’s their time to shine.”

Friday, August 8, 2014


As I start decorating this beautiful white piece of paper with these beautiful black marks, I have no outline, no points to refer to, no notes I’ve taken… just a little mountain of memories I’ve accumulated in the past eight weeks during my stay in Hyderabad. Please pardon the apparent lack of structure.

Tonight is perhaps THE most important night in the lives of nineteen young college-goers. It is so critical that most of them have given up hope of stealing a few winks. While some have chosen to sing and dance through the hours, others have withdrawn into silent contemplation. People are alternating between strained smiles and bouts of tears. Why is the night so harsh tonight? Because tomorrow we’ll get THE news: whether we’ve proven ourselves worthy of a Pre-Placement Offer from Microsoft.

Never before have had I felt our emotions to be so tangible. Never before have had I felt their presence with such force. I did not ever imagine, even in my wildest dreams that tonight is going to be so charged with nervousness, excitement and stark, naked fear. Every face you turn to has a strange shadow cast upon it… a shadow of doubt, of uncertainty, of anxiety.

In these few last moments before the final decision is announced, I wish to write about my journey and share my experience with everyone who has cared to read this far.

Ever since our selection for the internship, we had been accorded the status of demi-Gods in our college. Microsoft (MS) is a really big deal for students from IGDTUW. It is one of the best companies that offer campus placements to us. Each year, its arrival is awaited with bated breath. You get the picture…

I came here with certain ideas, certain assumptions and certain expectations. All of these were soon turned on their head and here I was, bang in the middle of GD Sparks (as the interns are called). Within no time, even before we realized it, our project was in deep red. We were facing severe team issues. We had a difficult customer. We could find no one to guide us with the technologies we were using. In short, we were dead meat.

However, I learnt the importance of optimism. This single trait of my otherwise not-so-interesting personality helped me handle all situations. Being stubbornly hopeful about the future helps you in times when all else fails. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy, you believe in it and it becomes true. At times when no one else could see even a single ray of hope for our project, I saw the bright and brilliant Sun.

I learnt the importance of disconnecting from work and maintaining the quintessential work-life balance. With the kind of schedule the interns had, it was easier said than done. It took every ounce of self-discipline that my darling mother had drilled into me in the past two decades. Mastering your mind is key for maintaining your focus.

I learnt the art of accepting feedback and then working towards my development areas (not weaknesses, as Sreekanth Sir would always point out). If any of my juniors happen to be reading this, please underline this point. It isn’t always easy to accept feedback without clouding it with your own perception. But honestly, it is one of the best acts someone can do for you. If someone gives you feedback, it means they care enough about you to think for you. I was fortunate to have Sunil Sir as my mentor. If you read this sir, thank you!

Not only is getting the feedback important, working towards improving upon the identified areas is equally important. I did that with every fiber of my being. It was like I had a single point agenda: Improve. And improve, I did.

The corporate sector demands you to continuously learn and apply. That is how you work. You get placed in a project about which you have zero knowledge. You do not have the time for a ramp-up. So you simply learn and apply. Learn some more and do some more. You don’t need to be Einstein.  You just need to learn.

I learnt the benefits of good company. Good friends are there to pull you out of your chair when you refuse to have lunch. They are there to help you out when you get stuck. They are there to give you sane advice. They are there to have insane fun.

Looking back, I think all of us have grown as individuals. These sixty days can never be forgotten. They’re indelible marks on our character. It does not matter if I get the much-coveted PPO or not. What I’ve gained here goes much beyond that. It can’t be caged in words, nor shaped into expressions…