Friday, March 1, 2013

Life after Graduation: Expecting the Unexpected - Part 1

This blog post is about my keynote session at Computer Society of India (CSI) Annual State Level Student Convention 2013, Goa on 23rd Feb 2013. I am writing this to outline the flow as it is necessary in addition to sharing my slide deck which has more pictures than words. If you are a student, you will benefit from this – please feel free to share your questions or views. If you are in you will find a mix of familiar and new thoughts in this post.

More than one hundred students, faculty members and industry experts attended this event. The venue, Institute Menezes Braganza Hall which is one of the historic buildings in Panjim provided us the right ambience. After the welcome address, my session started at 10am. And this is how it unfolded.

Good morning! What do you think is the fee for a 1-day IT conference in some of the large cities such as Bangalore or Pune or Chennai? Typically it is about 2500 rupees. Depending on the type of event and organizing team, it ranges from 1500 to 2500 rupees. You may be surprised; there are 1-day events that cost rupees 7500 too. Considering the session titles and speaker line-up, today’s event is as good as or better than many events organized in some of the big cities of India. However the fee is very nominal! It is one-tenth of what we pay for such events in big cities. On Monday, you should talk about this event with your class mates and friends. Let all of them join us next time! With that note, let me appreciate Computer Society of India, Goa Chapter and all organizers and volunteers for putting together this event and begin with a quick snap of college life.

A quick snap of college life
It is a life filled with energy and enthusiasm. Students enjoy lots of freedom! Their life revolves around their campus and their institution. In a state like Goa, you spend your college days in natural surroundings and relish some of those unforgettable moments!

Life before graduation
Before graduation, we are used to several factors. Most or all these factors are rooted in the way our colleges and universities are structured. Here is a list that we must go through. This is a global phenomenon. I have adopted this list from a paper titled ‘College to Workplace Issues and Strategies: A Primer’ by Dr. Paul Heittich.

• Frequent and concrete feedback
• Some freedom to set a schedule
• Frequent breaks and time off
• Minimum marks to pass
• Ready answers and model question papers
• Correct answers usually available
• Passive participation permitted
• Independent thinking supported
• Environment of personal support
• Focus on personal development
• Structured courses & curriculum
• Few changes in routine
• Personal control over time
• Individual effort & performance
• Intellectual challenge
• Acquisition of knowledge
• Professors

When you enter corporate life, you are going to experience a different set of factors. For example, in corporate life, you will not get frequent and concrete feedback similar to college test scores. Corporate life is different. Let us assume that you have to release a product after running all tests and meeting the acceptance criteria. You cannot afford to limit yourself to 60% of the tests with no valid reason unless you want to lose your job. There is no such thing as minimum scores to pass. There are no model question papers and ready answers! Some problems or questions in corporate life do not have the right answers! Acquisition of knowledge is the primary goal when you are in college. When you enter corporate, you have to have the right balance of acquiring knowledge and applying knowledge. Results matter and lifelong learning to produce results matters!

I have discussed this further in Part 2.

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