Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aiming for the stars......

Companies in IT industry can be very broadly classified into 2 tiers.
Tier-1 companies, which include the likes of Microsoft, Google etc,
make software products and technologies. Tier-2 companies, where
Indian players like TCS, Infosys etc fall in, are predominantly
service based. I.e. they make applications making use of
technologies/products developed by Tier-1 firms. Let’s see some
statistics on salaries.  A junior developer in a tier-1 firm gets
around Rs 800000/- pa whereas their tier-2 counterparts get Rs
300000/- pa. For more senior positions, the gap widens more. (refer
www.glassdoor.com for more salary comparisons)

It’s no secret that majority of maceians are employed in Tier-2 firms
even though MACE is always considered among the best colleges in the
state.  4 years of engineering college life at MACE is not an easy one
at all, with more than 40 theory papers, 10 labs, 2 projects and a
technical seminar which are among the most sought-after for
plagiarizing by others.

          Despite having vast and deep knowledge about computer
science topics, maceians typically end up in service firms. In such
firms, they typically make/modify applications based on requirements
given or handle support tickets from clients. Many end up in testing
jobs as well. These jobs are mediocre and don’t require core
engineering skills.  On the other hand, imagine the kind of
professional satisfaction one gets from being part of projects like
‘Google search’, ’iPhone’ which has dramatically changed people’s
lives. So which side you want to be in?

                                               The main reason why
maceians end up in service industry is that, they are the only
companies conducting bulk campus recruitment. And we hardly see firms
like Microsoft, Oracle etc visiting our campus. So, if we need to find
jobs in such firms then we have to reach out to them and this requires
some preparation as it isn’t a cake walk. Let’s see how you can
improve your chances of being hired by technology players like
Microsoft, Oracle, Google etc (naturally these will also improve the
chances of being hired by service players as well!)

                               The first step is Networking-It simply
means making good contacts with people in the industry and people
having similar interests as yours and it will play a very crucial role
in your career. You can know about the technologies in demand from
people who are in industry. The best way to get a call for an
interview in a tier-1 company is through referral. Even in cases where
you don’t quite match the company’s requirement, which usually is the
case, if you are backed by someone within the company, chances are
high that you get hired. Apart from Mace alumni, professional
networking sites like LinkedIn and other sites including Facebook can
be useful in making networks. Don’t just spend your time playing Mafia
Wars and Farmville….. Do more or your career will be at stake.

   Next important step when you pursue a big dream is developing
good communication skills, which is not merely explaining your resume
and project, but it can be in forms of casual talks with your
interviewer while catching up on a coffee  about a recently released
movie . Talks can also be formal in the middle of an interview as it
expresses your keen interest in terms of technology and domain.
Clarity and brevity is very important while articulating you ideas.
This is not something that can be achieved overnight.  It’s a long
term process which requires certain amount of dedication. Various
things like engaging in group discussions with colleagues or even
online discussion boards, promoting English inside class rooms,
seeking professional help, regularly reading English articles,
blogging, writing movie reviews etc. can help a lot in this.
              And finally, the most important of all: having strong
technical skills –both theoretical and practical aspects; be ready for
an interview with a big arsenal. Each of the weapons in that should
give the interviewer an impression that they need this person. Do some
projects of your own; there are plenty of resources in the servers
across the globe which are just a click away; all you need is an
attitude to explore and excel. Open source projects will surely help
you in developing and polishing your technical skills.  Make the best
use of sites like sourceforge.net, codeplex.net etc. Be aware of the
latest technological developments. Take a chance to watch the
procedures of a company as a part of final year project, rather than
forcing yourself into some technology which is outdated or will be
obsolete soon, this obviously need some support from the department.
It’s also very important that you have a consistent academic score to
impress top companies as most of them consider academics from 10th
standard onwards….even though talent play its own role.

Don’t lose hope even if you don’t end up with your dream job after
graduation. You have the option of higher studies and if you can do
your post-graduation from a reputed institute, you have a good chance
of being hired by top notch companies as they visit most good
institutes for campus recruitment.  So consider preparing for GATE/GRE
or other exams during long semester breaks.  Also, taking technical
certifications add lot of weight to your resume.

All this might sound humongous, but like it’s said…. there are no
shortcuts to success. However, don’t have the misconception that you
need to be “Mr. NERD” to achieve all this. You can bunk many classes,
party every weekend and still you can achieve this if you have passion
and an attitude with fixed focus. Remember, always aim for the stars,
and even if you don’t quite reach there…..you can still make it to the
tree top.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their
dreams.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

This is an article written by myself and my friend Lloyd George. This was published in Zing20, a souvenir published   in connection with 20th year celebration of Computer Science Dept. , MACE,Kothamangalam. (my alma mater)


  1. an enlightening one!!

  2. nice one ...... really inspirational..... so how do we improve our networking skills?? by contacting google and microsoft....??

  3. Nice post, in its entireity. You drove home the point of the actual work in service industries and product based companies well.If i were to add my 2 cents to this discussion- the basis of Tier 2 companies is "Project Management" and there is seemingly large population of Project Managers who have a real distorted view of the the technical aspects about a project. All they are expected to do would be to keep asking questions such as "How much % of work is remaining". to "Why was this bug not caught at the design". To ask these kind of questions one doesnt need to have a degree in engineering(a degree in pottery would suffice!!).
    In short to be a project manager would require the skills of how to "play" a mind game.Pity such topics are not taught at Engineering classes :-)