Saturday, 30 January 2016

Do you know your challenges? Blog Post 7

Having done really well in the first round of interview, aptitude test, group discussions, technical round - you are finally hired.

No doubt you are on cloud nine after winning a job and feel accomplished. But hold on there, it is only a beginning. You are now stepping out from your protective shell into a world where you will find no one other than yourself fighting against different circumstances.

What do I mean by ‘fighting against different circumstances'?

With all the array of subject a student learns as part of the academics, not all will know which career path to choose. A commerce student or a history student may end up as a software engineer and a computer engineering student may end up as a lab technician. The challenge here is to have a clear vision. No one else can have a clear vision for your career other than you yourself. If you take for example software engineering jobs, there are scores of jobs you can pick from within this field - QA analyst/programmer/database analyst, database administrators/software architect/network engineer etc. etc. Unfortunately not every graduate even realizes the various options available. Often, graduates do not even have an opportunity to make the right choice.

Therefore, even if you have won a job for yourself, you may not be sure if you have made the right choice.

When you start spending few months/years in your organization, you will slowly realise that there are many other better opportunities, many directions in which you can steer your career. A lot of people realise this quite late in their career and regret for making the wrong choices. Of course, it is too late by then.

You will slowly find yourself surrounded with dirty office politics where a not so worthy candidate easily walks up the corporate ladder than a very hard working/smart working candidate. The enthusiasm/zeal you had on the first day of joining your first job starts to fade away and what remains is your frustration, struggles and fear of failure.

This is when you realise that apart from the academics scores there are many other skills required to sustain yourself in the corporate world.

What are those skills? 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Do you know your challenges? Blog Post 6

Let us assume that you have worked really hard to prepare a fantastic CV that has enabled you to get shortlisted for the first round of interview.

Congratulations! You are now one step closer to being hired.

How confident are you that you will be able to the clear the first round?

The first round of interview is usually with the HR of the company. The standard first question a HR asks is ‘Tell me about yourself’.

Even before you have finished with the first two lines of your answer, recruiter has already decided whether or not to consider you for further interview rounds.

In essence, you have only about 30-60 seconds to prove that you are a worthy enough candidate for the position you have applied for.

First, let us understand the recruiter’s purpose behind asking this question.

The purpose here is simple. It is to test the confidence, enthusiasm and passion with which you answer the question. It is to test how well you build rapport and how articulate you appear.

Please remember that the recruiter is not interested in your personal details. Do not start with ‘My name is xxxxxx… I belong to a family of four … my father is a pilot … I was born in ….’

Recruiter is specifically focused on who you are in relation to the specific job for which you are applying. They realise that you are a fresher and that you cannot speak about any previous work experience.

Start your answer something along the lines of ‘I have recently graduated from xxxxxx college. I chose this subject as I have keen interest on ……. (justify your reasons for choosing the subject). I have really worked hard in my education. While I was pursuing my degree, I have ….. (share about your academic achievements and any other if you have). I am ….. (share about your special qualities). Focus on your key soft skills/technical skills you have that suits the job description.

Try to keep it very brief. Pause for a while to see how your recruiter responds. If there is a nod from the recruiter then continue to elaborate your answer. Feel free to ask if there is anything in particular the recruiter is looking to know about you. This will help set expectation and you can focus on what has been asked.

If you are able to answer this question and impress the recruiter, you will then be asked further questions.

What next?

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Do you know your challenges? - Blog post 5

If you have been reading my blog posts from the beginning you will have noticed that I am writing a series of blog to help students identify the challenges based on the purposes/goals they may have in life. The posts also include my personal experiences.

Today I am here to focus on challenges of another goal.

Goal 2 - Get hired by a multi-national company.

Most of the students prefer to work soon after graduating. In my very first blog I mentioned that there are nearly 1.9 million engineers graduating every year across India. Along with these students are arts and science/business management students who graduate every year. I am sure you can imagine the competition you are/will be facing.

One of the many reasons why I moved abroad was because I did not find myself competent enough to face the huge competition in India. Where ever I went, I would find my friends, cousins, father’s colleagues’ sons/daughters being placed in multi-national companies. They would look down on me if I mentioned that I was still looking for a job. I felt as though if I was to stay in India the only way I could earn respect in the society was to find myself a job in a multinational company. The sheer pressure of the society forced me out of my country.

Unemployment is a huge issue in India. There are many factors why unemployment is on the rise. While there are many factors (economic factors, population etc.) which are out of our control, there are many which are well under our control (soft skills, technical skills etc.) that can help us get ahead in the competition to be successfully employed.

Only a handful of students succeed getting placed in MNCs through the campus placement drives. Remaining students are let to try their own luck that end up running from pillar to post to get hired.

The very first challenge students’ face in an attempt to get hired is to have their CVs shortlisted to be even called for an interview.

Companies receive scores of CVs every day. Do you think they scan every CV they receive?Certainly not!

In order to be successfully called for an interview, make sure your CV is not a standard one that will be lost in the pile of similar CVs submitted by other graduates.

Spend good time writing your CV. Remember that this is the very first step towards you getting hired. Do not simply copy from your friends/internet and change the name on the CV. This is not going to help.

Learn to be original and creative from day one.

On your CV, rather than highlighting your personal statements focus more on your career objectives. Focus on 3-4 of your unique selling points that will make the recruiter want to meet you. Make sure you highlight your key skills relevant to the job you are applying so that when recruiters use keywords to search CVs online they can see yours. Do not focus on how much you have done but on how well you have done. Make sure your CV is not too long.

Finally, have your CV proof read by as many people as you can and get their honest feedback. Reflect those feedbacks on your CV.

Your CV has the first privilege to meet your prospective employer. You are under your CVs mercy to get shortlisted for an interview call. Therefore, do not mess it up.

Will you attempt to write your own CV and have it successfully shortlisted for an interview call?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Do you know your challenges? - Blog Post 4

As students, when you have succeeded in finding a part time job abroad you should continue to remain focused on the primary purpose of your life.

When you are living abroad, you are independent and you are the ones who are in complete control of your life. Though independence teaches you many good things, along with it comes temptations.

The number of temptations is far too long for me to list, however I’d like to focus on one which I have witnessed in many students lives here in the UK. This temptation has ruined many students’ lives and has shattered many parents’ dreams.

As students start to earn from part-time jobs, the greed to earn more money kicks in. As a result of this, many students start to work above 20 hours a week knowing that it is against the immigration laws. In many cases, I have witnessed students work round the clock with no sleep. These students then missed the university classes, withdrew themselves from the university courses and eventually got deported back to their home countries after being caught by the immigration authorities. I have seen these students regret their mistakes later in their lives and were desperate to start all over again. Unfortunately it was too late by then. By then they had already shamed themselves, shamed their families, had wasted their parent’s hard earned money and shattered their own dreams and career.

The skill to achieve your ultimate purpose in life over your temptations is a challenge in itself. If you have mastered this skill then you have no looking back.

I was determined to achieve my purpose in life. My first step towards this journey was to graduate successfully. The next step was to sort out my work permit to be able to work in the UK and earn a professional job.

I was able achieve them one by one.

Have I then achieved my purpose in life? Of course not!

What I have achieved so far are some of the key milestones in my journey towards achieving my ultimate goal.

What are the other challenges a student faces?

Monday, 11 January 2016

Do you know your challenges? - Blog Post 3

Unless your parents can provide for your monthly expenses till you have graduated and have found a professional job, you require a part time job to survive abroad.

Finding a part time job is a challenge in itself. Finding a job that you can adjust to is another.

In UK, no job is considered menial. Whether you are a bus driver, whether you are a waiter/waitress, whether you are on the streets distributing leaflets - you are treated equal.

Unfortunately, most of the students do not have the above mentality.

Your life will become easy and less disappointing if you are ready to adapt yourself and can commit to such part time jobs. After all it is only going to be a temporary job.

Being on a student visa, I was allowed to work 20 hours a week. I found my first part time job through a friend of mine. It was at a dog race stadium where my job was to issue race tickets. I worked 3 days a week for 10-12 hours. The income was just enough for me to manage my expenses.

While working at the dog race stadium I started looking out for other part time jobs as I needed a boost to my income. Within couple of months I got a job at a call center. I started working 20 hours a week. I attended my university classes in the mornings and worked at the call center from 18:00 - 22:00. I learnt to balance my studies, job and house hold chores. Of course, it was not easy.

After a year, I found a part-time job at the British Telecom call center near where I lived. This helped me save my travel time and offered a better income.

While few students manage to work at the call centers and earn admin jobs, there are few students who have tough jobs. For example jobs like, selling international calling cards on the streets in freezing cold, working night shifts at petrol stations, super markets, working at Mac Donald/KFC where students are expected to clean the customer toilets.

Although you should try your best to earn a good part-time job, at the same time you should not be disappointed if you cannot earn one. What matters the most is that you remain focused on your ultimate goal and earn money the right way.

What next?

Friday, 8 January 2016

Do you know your challenges? - Blog Post 2

I was extremely nervous, I was extremely anxious. I was not sure if everything I had planned would ever work out in my favour. I knew no one when I landed in UK. I was going to make a brand new beginning all by myself in a foreign land. I had nothing, except for a student visa, a few hundred sterling pounds to cover my one or two month’s living expenses, a university course and a shared accommodation.

I had one other thing - determination. No matter how tough it was going to be, I was not going to give up.

From buying my own grocery items to cooking my own meals, from cleaning my own kitchen pots to cleaning my own toilet room, from spending my father’s money generously in India to learning to spend my money sparingly in UK - everything was a new experience. I learnt it all the hard way.

I struggled on my first day at the university. I struggled not because I did not understand what was being taught, but I struggled because I did not know how to socialise with foreign students. Being pampered and brought up in a protective environment I never really took an effort to socialise when in India. Even during my engineering college days I would hang around with only a few handful of friends - something that I deeply regret even today.

It took me quite a while to get adjusted to the teaching style and course lay out. In India the education system is such that you are mostly spoon fed. Here in UK, you have to strain your brain a little to apply logical thinking when working on assignments. You have to be mindful about submitting your assignments containing any Google inputs or same materials as that of your fellow student, otherwise you will be caught for plagiarism.

It was a tough life having to balance studies, part-time job and house hold chores.

How difficult was it to earn my part-time job?

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Do you know your challenges? - Blog post 1

Even before you answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question that I had asked ‘Are you ready to face life’s tough challenges?’, do you even realize the kind of challenges you are going to face?

You will never feel accomplished if you do not face challenges in life and triumph over them. Your attitude towards challenges matters the most that either makes you or breaks you.

Soon after your graduation, depending upon your purpose/goals in life you are likely to face many challenges. Let me start by helping you identify few of those challenges based on some of the common goals a student has.

Goal 1 - Move abroad for higher education

My purpose in engineering days was to move abroad for higher studies and settle abroad. I dreamed to make it really big in a foreign land. Although my purpose was very clear, I did not know how to achieve it and what to expect. There was no one to guide me. I had to blindly trust what one of the study abroad consultants had to offer.

I come from a humble middle class family. My father is not filthy rich.  My father was then a senior scientist working for one of the Defence Laboratories in Hyderabad (now retired). For a family like ours, dreams of studying abroad was too much of a BIG ask. However, my father decided to press ahead and turn my dreams into reality.

We approached a study abroad consultancy where everything came with a price. It was only after had I paid the fee and signed up to the firm, that they would talked to us. Following the conversation with the consultant, I chose United Kingdom as my destination. I was offered a list of universities under the budget my father could afford. The consultant made my dreams seem very effortless. To summarize the lengthy conversation - pay the consultancy fees, have your visa stamped, earn part-time while you study in the UK, get a job post-graduation and start earning handsome salary in sterling pounds £££.

I went ahead, selected the university, chose my course and paid the fees.

I landed in UK.

Did I achieve my dreams? Was it really effortless?

Monday, 4 January 2016

You are under protective wings - only for a while

Following from my yesterday’s blog post, I believe many of you have been able to analyse your lives as students and also have reminded yourselves of the very purpose of enrolling in the chosen course.

Trust me - student life is the most pivotal phase of your life. This is the phase where you need to start laying foundations to your career ahead and at the same time ensure you have thoroughly enjoyed your student life to be able to create many long lasting memories. Finding the right balance between the two is the trick to achieve your purpose.

You have 4 years to graduate. 4 years is a very long time. The moment you have been through your admission process in an engineering college, you are either determined to do exceedingly well to achieve your goals right from day one or have a take-it-easy attitude and worry about your future only in the 4th year.

Is your purpose to graduate to earn a high paying job, move abroad for higher studies, become an entrepreneur, or become a trainer/coach? Whatever your purpose is, without understanding what it’d take for you to achieve your purpose you will only be building castle in the air.

Remember, as long as you are a student you are under protective wings. You have the support of your parents who’d go to any extent to offer you all the comforts you require to graduate successfully. You have the support of your college staff and faculty members to guide you, train you and mold you. You have loads of facilities available such as labs, library, opportunities such as workshops, seminars, events etc. Once you are out of the protective wings, you are on your own to face the real challenges of life.

Are you ready to be independent and face life’s tough challenges? 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Have you analysed your student life?

In my previous blog dated 02-Jan-2016, I asked a question ‘Are you one among this 18% ?’

I am not sure how many of you have given it a serious thought. If you haven't yet, please start by asking yourselves the following questions:
  •  Have you enrolled yourself in an engineering course by choice or under parental pressure?
  • What is your purpose for enrolling in the engineering course?
  • Have you thought about how to best utilize the 4 years  of the course to achieve your purpose?

During my school days I had no ambition of pursuing an engineering degree. It was under parental pressure that I had to prepare for the engineering entrance exam. I failed to qualify in the entrance exam. Therefore, my parents had to enroll me under the management quota in an engineering college in Hyderabad.

I signed up for the computer science engineering course. My only purpose then was to complete the engineering degree and move abroad for higher studies, which I eventually did. The reasons behind choosing that one purpose were many. I will be sharing them with you in my upcoming blog posts.

Soon after the completion of my degree I realized that I could have utilized the 4 years of my course in a much better manner. Sadly, it was too late then. I will be sharing the details of ‘why’ in my upcoming blog posts.

I passed out with a ‘first class’ in 2006. 10 years from then, I have no regrets to have pursued engineering degree under parental pressure. The degree helped lay the foundation to the successful career I have today here in the United Kingdom.

This is my story, what is yours? 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Calling out all engineering students in India - Do you realise the competition around you?

It is every parent's aspiration that their children pass their engineering degrees with flying colors and be placed in a multi-national company through the college placements. This is the same desire that most of the engineering students have too. The dreams do not stop here, it goes onto the next level where by working in a multi-national company you want to grab every opportunity to travel abroad for an on-site project. The wait for which is painfully too long.

Leaving the dreams and aspirations aside, how many of you as parents and students are even confident that this can be achieved?

Some think that by exiting the door of the engineering college with a degree you can simply walk in through the doors of a multi-national company straight to your office desk.

If only the reality was as simple as the dream.

Most students feel relieved and get way too excited when they receive admission into engineering college that they forget the very purpose of their admission in the college. They often forget the fact that they have put down their names against a mad rat race, a race to earn a handsome salary, a fancy job title and a frequent travel abroad.

Have you as students ever thought about what will it take for you to win the race? Do you even realize how many fellow students you are competing with?

As per AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education), the intake of engineering students across India for the year 2014-2015 was 1903722. This means on an average you are competing with 1.9 million fellow students. If you look at the stats below, the competition is growing year on year.

India has the record rate of producing maximum number of engineers across the world, yet only 18% of the engineering graduates in India are actually employable says a survey (National Employability Report released by a private employability solutions company).

Are you one among those 18% employable engineers ?