Thursday, March 3, 2011

Warm Up - While in campus

This is the first article in the series of articles intended to guide a college grad in his journey from campus to his dream career if not a career.In this brief warm up article lets talk about what you can do while in college and also a few tips while researching for on/off campus interviews.I will be writing more about the interview process,higher education options etc in the future articles.Since my major was computer science and i claim to have good first hand knowledge of IT ,the examples sited will be mostly IT related and students from other fields/branches have to substitute appropriately.

Knowing our-self - change begins here

Only when we know about our-self can we improve.Do a self check,accept your weaknesses and use your strengths to overcome them.Work on your percentages and communication skills.They play a key role in the screening process once you get to the interviews.And there can not be a better time to fix these than while in college.While there are several books that can help you with the communication part,one easy way i found to improve our listening skills,aptitude and English  vocabulary is by using the TOEFL and GRE material/software's.Take the mock exams these software's offer and see where you can improve.While working on your percentages make sure you get the basics right.Fill the technical gaps by taking any additional outside courses required for the core subjects. example: Operating Systems,Data Structures,C,OOPS,Java etc

Meet the Aliens
Thanks to the number of colleges and the IT boom it is  not an exaggeration if i say there is a at-least one working engineer per family.Get in touch with them.They might be busy and might not respond as you expect. But keeping your ego aside try to stay in touch with them.Learn from them on what is expected once you are out in the wild and what you can improve on.And also develop a clarity on your long term goals and sync up your short term goals with them.I cant stress enough on the importance of Clarity Of Thought as i still see so many confused college grads out in the fish market.

Sync Up - Understand and get used to the Planet/Corporate culture

I need not tell you that College and Profession are two different planets.If you are lucky enough to work for a IT Company as a part of your college project you might already know how teams are organized or at-least how different they are from college.If you dint make it to one ,don't worry - Its an age of virtual reality .Talk to your Professor/HOD and request them to -

Break up the class in to teams with four to five members on each project team.Every team should have analysts,leads,developers,testers,documentation.Let the lecturer in-charge be the manager and your Head Of The Department(HOD) be the CEO:).This will cease or at-least reduce the gap between academic projects and the projects out there in the wild.Rotate your roles so that everyone gets to step in to everyone elses shoes.No matter what your role is be professional and responsible,as this will help you in your career where in you don't have a choice but to accept a particular role. Don't fight over a role.IT is not about how you work as an individual but as a team.Companies often look for candidates who can wear multiple hats and that is another place where this will help.If you have a chance to work on several projects STOP after each project and retrospect and share with the team and the class the lessons you have learnt and insights for the future.

Research Research and Analyze

Know the companies that have visited your campus in the last few years.Get in touch with the college placement board in advance and get the list of companies that will be visiting.Get the list of candidates that were selected previously and their contact information from the college alumni if possible and stay in touch with them.They are good source of inputs.They might even be on the next interview panel.This stands good for off campus interviews as well.Use the internet and its power to your benefit and not the other way around.Gather as much information about the position and the company on hand.Don't let the social networking bug bite you ,but bite your share of it to stay in touch with the people in the industry and communities that post job interview tips.Knowing about the company and the kind of work they do will help you not only prepare for the technical interviews but also answering several tricky HR questions later.

Here are a few examples of how various companies operate, which might give you some idea on choosing a Company.

Services companies like TCS,Infosys,CTS have a huge offshore base in India.And they also have good on-site presence abroad.So if you are looking for long abroad stay and earning in other currency opportunities these are good places to start.TCS even promises to definitely send you abroad by the end of your 2nd year of service.On the other hand they might ask you to sign a bond for the training they have provided and that might get extended every-time you travel abroad.The salary packages might be a slightly low here as they expect you to make out the most savings from your stay abroad.

Product based companies like SAP ,Oracle,Microsoft have their ODC(offshore development center) in India and they normally prefer you work there and travel on-site on short trips once in a while.You might work your way and become a part of their on-site team eventually.But comparatively there are fewer chances.These firms often offer a very good pay&benefits and you might get to work on some core/interesting(depends:) technologies.

Companies like Infosys,Wipro might even support you do your masters from IIMS provided you clear the required entrance exams and will pay for the entire course provided you work for them for a few years later.This is not bad again depending on where your priorities are.

This is not a complete list and again your contacts in the industry and the amount of time you spend on research will help prepare at different points in your career.Be clear on your goals and do not let crazy competition on to your brain.And Yes, college is the time you have to enjoy.But it also is the time for you to lay a good foundation for your future.Just use the time in the best possible way.

Here is an article on a few things that if you understand and practice staying away from will save some time/energy.

Get Started Now!