This question is getting viral on Quora and if you will read the answers you will get to know that this has been the case of most of the Engineering students in India who started their career in IT sector. I am not going to describe the situation for you but you can yourself read and find out on your own:
I graduated from BITS Pilani in 2010.
After pursuing a couple of dead end internships, I accepted a job offer from Accenture in Chennai for the role of Associate Software Engineer.
My starting salary was 3.0LPA. Inclusive of bonus.
Initially I wasn’t too concerned about the salary. I figured there was a distinct gap in my knowledge when it came to technology and I intended to bridge the gap by working for a year and then make a switch.
But as months went by, I started to regret how I had not taken the most of the opportunities that were presented to me. Even the managers in the company were not sure what I was doing at the company. One of the first question asked to me when I joined the project was:
“Which college are you from?”
Puzzled look. “What are you doing here?”
I was dumbfounded. It was at that moment that it hit me that I should not have been here. That I had messed up. The next few months were very hard. I had heard of people being in depression. But I didn’t quite understand how difficult it was for them. At that point of my life, I understood. It was hard. It was difficult to wake up in the morning, travel to my office that was located in the middle of nowhere. Perform routine maintenance work for a system that was already in place. I was contributing NOTHING to the project.
I felt like quitting. Not just the job. But my life. I remember walking one evening outside Accenture’s office. There was a railway station right next to the office. I left the office with the intention of jumping in front of an oncoming train. When I reached the tracks, there was a train coming at a high speed towards me. My heart was racing.
This was it. This is how it all ends.
But I couldn’t. I remembered my mom and dad when the train was around 100 meters from me. They had sacrificed so much for me. And I messed up. As the train approached, the sheer speed of the train frightened me. I ran away from the tracks as fast as my legs could take me.
I went home and cried.
I remember waking up the next morning relieved that I chickened out. I vowed to myself that after screwing up so badly in college, I needed to get back on track.I vowed that I would never give up. If not for myself, for my parents. Because they deserve better than what I was giving them.
I decided to attempt CAT. Maybe I can get a lifeline by cracking the exam and entering the hallowed walls of the IIMs. That could give me a second chance. All I wanted was a second chance.
I gave up every pleasure in my life and studied for CAT. I practically destroyed all the weekends and left no stone unturned for my preparation.
I attempted CAT three times. All the three times I ended up with a score of 98.XX. I was devastated. I was adamant I wanted to go to the IIMs. But I did not get a single call.
Meanwhile, after a year, I changed my job. I joined an upcoming analytics firm. The work was by no means fantastic. But it was a lot better than Accenture. I got a pay hike to 5.0LPA
I gave up my aspiration for CAT. I was 25 and I felt I would regret it if I continued to live my twenties in this manner. I joined a few non profits. The most significant of them being SlumSoccer. I played football with slum kids every Saturday evening. Seeing the happiness in their face made me happy. But seeing the poverty and the life that they had to return to everyday made me sad. I realised how lucky I am to have all that I have.
I picked up a few other activities as well. I began to focus on my fitness and tried my hand at music.
The most important activity I took up was running. I was never an endurance racer. I ran the 10km leg of the WIPRO Chennai Marathon in 2013. I don’t know what happened within me. I fell in love with running. I suppose I felt I was running away from all my problems.
I started training for marathons. When I learnt about the triathlon, I started training for that too. I convinced my parents to sell our old car, used the entire money to buy myself a cycle. I went long distance cycling every weekend. I used to go out of the city for about 50 kms. In the Chennai heat. I came back exhausted. Then I would dive into the swimming pool in the afternoon and swim for 45 mins. I rounded up the day with 2 hours of intense football. Physically, I pushed myself to the limits.
This went on for one year.
And then my initial depression started to return.Back home my parents felt I was wasting my life away. I could see the pain in their eyes every time I went home. I had trouble sleeping at night.
I began to look for an exit from my job. I got my first promotion 2 years into my second job. I was earning 8.5LPA four years after graduation. Not impressive by any standards. My father was not happy. It was not the pay that kept me unhappy. It was the fact that my parents wanted something better. That made me sad.
I decided, I need to try harder to secure admissions in a top school. I was in no mood to write CAT every year. I decided to take up the GMAT. I took the GMAT after three months of preparation and scored a 720. I scored full marks in Quantitative section. So I did not bother to rewrite the exam again.
I applied to six colleges in the US in my first year. I was wait-listed by one, rejected by all others without an interview. I did my utmost to get an interview invitation for the wait-listed college. The school suggested I join Toastmasters to improve my candidacy. I did. And it changed my life in ways I cannot describe.
In the first meeting, I gave an impromptu speech. It was not great by any means. But I was given a thunderous applause for my efforts. I felt good. I felt appreciated after a long time. I was thankful to the school for recommending Toastmasters to me. The school ultimately rejected me. But I continued my journey in Toastmasters.
I applied for a second time to five different U.S schools. I was rejected without interview in all of them. I was invited for an interview at ISB. But, I was rejected after the interview. This time I was devastated. I had put in countless hours of effort in order to write my essays. I had contacted more than a hundred alumni to help draft the essays. I attended numerous events and even visited the schools. I had hit rock bottom.
Little had changed professionally. I applied for jobs at the top MNCs. I was shortlisted for an interview with LinkedIn. Upon making it past round 3, they flew me down to Bangalore. I had two rounds of interviews. I was rejected after the fifth round. I was invited for an interview at McKinsey. They flew me down to their office. I cleared seven rounds. I was rejected at the eight and final round. I interviewed with Google. I cleared five rounds. I was rejected at the sixth and final round. I asked for a feedback from Google. They said “I lacked the aptitude for the job.” It was the first time in my life that someone had told me I lacked aptitude. I felt insulted.
The McKinsey and Google interviews happened within a span of two weeks. I felt like my world was falling apart.
I tried my hand at European schools as one last ditched effort. I applied to the MBA program at HEC Paris and Oxford. Oxford rejected me without interview.
HEC Paris invited me for an interview.
I prepared for the interview to the best of my abilities. The interview consisted of a 10 minute presentation. My 16 month stint at Toastmasters helped me make a killer presentation. At the end of the process, even I was impressed at how well I had done. I told myself, if they reject me, B-School is probably not for me as no school in the world thinks I am capable. I did not know what else needed to be done to get an admit into a top school.
On 9th May 2016, I was in my office when I got an e-mail from HEC admissions.
I didn’t read the rest of the mail.
I just closed my eyes and let it sink in. I took a few deep breaths and composed myself.
I looked back at the screen to confirm that it was indeed an admit. I stood up from my workstation, walked towards the exit and dialled my dad’s number.
I told him I have an admit. I have never seen my dad cry. I still haven’t. But I have heard him getting choked up.
I called my mom. I have seen and heard my mom cry before. That day, I heard again.
That night, I slept well for the first time in 5.5 years.
There have been far too many downs and a few ups since I graduated. But what is unmistakable in my time here is that I made progress.
Looking back it has been a very long and emotional journey. I was down and broken. All I ever wanted was a second chance. I felt helpless every time I was rejected. be it by a company or by a B-School. But every time I was knocked down, I got back up on my feet. Until they couldn’t knock me down no more. Until I made it to a top 20 school.
I am grateful for this second chance that I have been given. I am aware that I did not save a life or change the world. But I changed my parent’s world. For the better. And that means a lot to me. I am aware that the journey has only begun. And hopefully someday, I can make a difference to the lives of people I will never meet.
I am not sure if this answer will help anyone. But, I have learnt that in life you got to keep doing what you have to do, and trust that it will all pay off in the end. I started my Toastmaster’s journey to impress the school. But I continued it because I loved it. I didn’t know that one day it will help me make the killer presentation that would help me get the admit. I took up running because I loved it. I didn’t know that my interviewer at HEC would adore me for doing that. It helped me connect with him.
To conclude, I would like to say that no hard work goes fruitless. Sometimes, the fruits take time to bear. When you are struggling to find motivation in your darkest hour, always ask yourself
why am I doing this?
In my case, it was for my parents.
A) Penny Less.
(Note: Personal Frustrations added. Waited long time for sometime to ask me this.)
So I graduated from an A grade college. I won’t say the ‘Best College’ but yes; if you’re asking that do the Giants Hire from our college? Definitely Yes! Hefty pay checks too.
Suddenly it was fourth year – placements were around. I prayed so that I don’t get left behind *I thought I couldn’t face the world if I didn’t get placed*
Got granted my wish. I got placed. Where? Indian IT Sector.
3.25 LPA! I thought that was at the least manageable.
Then came the reality check. Every Fresher goes for training and then in these trainings you get only 65% of what you were told you would get. what about the rest ? Performance Bonus they say. Perform We Give. Else We Won’t!
Then comes the contributions PF , Accommodation , Health cards, Facility cards, etc.Another Chunk Vanishes!
You are left out with 12-13k monthly in your training period.
Savings – NIL.
Then you complete your training and get posted to some place. If you are lucky you get your preference, if not; then you have to live with it.
Some more relaxed flow is seen from the company’s side in lieu of the salary. You start getting what you were told you would 27.5k and the deductions – making it 22k by the time it reaches your bank.
The Feeling! Too happy. Seeing that money in your bank.
(Approx deductions | Minimal Expenses | Monthly)
1. House Rent. – Rs. 5k
2. Monthly fooding – Rs.5k
3. Wifi sharing – Rs. 300
4. Mobile recharge Rs.500
6. Transport – Rs. 3k
7. Now and then Shopping either for house or self – Rs. 4k
Remainder: Rs. 3200
8. If you booze or smoke (all hell breaks loose)
1 pac smokes/day = Rs. 100
30 days -> 3000
9.Booze atleast 4k (WHOLE MONTH)
10. Now remainder?Rs -3800.
+- Tolerance Value making savings to reach ZERO.
Yeah! So that’s pretty much it.
Feeling the weight off my chest now. Thanks for reading.