I write this post in a sad mood.
Let us call a young person Anand, which is not his real name. His mother, a distant relative of my wife called a few times seeking help in finding a job for Anand. After studying software engineering, Anand has appeared in several interviews for the past six months and could not get a job yet. With good experience in facing interviews, he should be able to get a job now. I wanted to meet the person before recommending to someone. On 18th Feb he came home with his mother, aunt and two cousins.
His CV claimed great feats. He had copied bold ‘objectives’ from some friends, who would have copied from some friend of his and he from … Such objectives often compete with Narayana Murthy or Subroto Bagchi. In the skills section, he had mentioned all that was in the syllabus of engineering course in Computer Science and more. However, he is not confident of any of those topics as ‘it was not taught well in college.’ Though he owns a computer, he has not written a single line of code since his project work in college. He has not read a single technical book or paper since he is out of college. He cannot explain the features of his project work in the college, his only hands-on experience.
I asked him to make some necessary corrections to his CV and mail me. I advised him that he has to read and practice and that his real studies should start now – not to end with the college education. As a first task, I asked him to understand his own project, write design document and refactor the code though better would be to re-implement the application. I gave him a list of additional features to implement and enhance the application and suggested a set of free tools that would give him a feel of the work in the industry. The three cousins nodded eagerly and appreciatively.
I have some technical books and told him that he could take from them as many as he wanted and I would be happy if they were put to use. I also would be happy if he approached me for help in technical matters. He did not look at the stack of books in the case.
Two weekends have passed since then. Shivarathri is over; Navarathri may come in some months. He has not contacted me and is not likely to come back. I must have been too demanding and impractical for him. If he had to get a job by his own merit, he does not need me.
On his own, Anand will soon get a job in a software company. After a few job changes on semester basis, he will reach a big company. In a couple of years he would be paying EMI for the car he drives and impatiently searching for an apartment to buy, in the mean time waiting for a jaunt abroad (read USA). His parents would be matching his horoscopes with prospective brides from the community, girls preferably working in software industry.
I would still be talking of value of professionalism, free will, self effort, and continued learning while the street smart men and women would travel far and mock me from their elevated position in life. This is not a new experience. My relationship with some friends and relatives has strained a few times as I could not find jobs for their children.
There is a lot I am holding back from talking about our college education and how we have defaulted in our social contract. A documentary named Declining by Degrees gives vivid picture of higher education in the USA. Indian situation is far worse.
While interviewing candidates, one answer I often got was “given a chance, I can work hard and prove my potential.” After wasting the opportunities thus far, they yet plead for another opportunity, which they expect someone else to create. ‘Can’ is not ‘will’ — having the opportunity is not the same as taking it.