Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kaam bada ya Naam?

All your life you are spoon-fed one single message: You are destined for great things. For that, you toil hard. Study as much as possible. Play as many sports as possible. Learn as many musical instruments as possible. You do everything that would make you look good on paper. You get into the top institutes of your chosen profession. You end up among the toppers there too. And you are on the cusp of getting placed in a great organization as well. Life's pretty good, eh?

Had that been the complete story, had that been all that there is to life, I would not have been writing this post! Obviously, there is a but.

Let's talk for a moment about how one of these trophy kids* decides which companies to target in the campus placements.

Almost all campuses have a day basis. Stripping it of all terminologies, it usually means that companies come to campus in the decreasing order of their pay scales. Now imagine the thought process of our kid. And imagine the environment within the campus. Almost everyone is targeting these highest paying jobs. Why? Is it just the money?

Probably not. I feel something at least as important as the money is the prestige value. A person who is expected to crack a first day offer (and by expected I mean good grades and a good pedigree) will be distraught if he doesn't, not because he won't get the monies, but because there is loss of face within the peer group. So the kid gives it all to get into one of those firms, usually not caring whether he is interested in that job at all.

The key word here is usually. Most of the times, students convince themselves that it is indeed their ambition to get into consulting or finance. They believe in it precisely because they want to (or even have to) believe in it. Else how would they justify their getting into these firms? Few like saying it is just for the money. And even fewer will admit that it is the social status attached to the job that attracts them. Edit: Not that there is anything wrong with it. The only question to ask is are you being completely honest with yourself?

And there are a few who passionately believe that this chosen stream is really their calling. Nothing better than that, is there?

But every so often, one or two of these students will question this mindset. They will want to explore other opportunities. Those which will not pay as much and definitely are not as highly regarded by this peer group.  What goes on, then, in the mid of such guys? How do they decide what to do? How do they resist the lure of money & respect and try something which might give them more satisfaction. And they don't even know whether it will give them satisfaction? Should the institute help such people out? Should the peer group be more understanding? Are our placement systems completely apathetic to the problems of such people?

How does this person decide ki Kaam bada ya naam? I will try and answer that in the next post.

Edit: Writing the next part of the post is turning out to be a bother.. and was keeping me from putting up other stuff. Putting it off till when the mood strikes me!