I was nervous and excited about my first campus interview. From the protective college world, our wings were opening up and we were readying to fly!
The interview was in a different college and we had to travel about one hour in bus to reach there. Each of us was silently thinking about cracking the interview, giving the best answers and most of all ruminating on what to expect. I was nervous too, but this wasn’t a very big company, so I thought, “even if I lose this one, I will have more coming”. This thought was quite reassuring.
The college campus was big, and the crowd – bigger. There were thousands of aspirants who had come to try their luck for this IT job. That is when reality struck me – welcome to the real world, where each step has to be taken carefully and each choice, made wisely.
We attended a short orientation and then headed on to take the written test. Everyone was anticipating their name when the names of selected candidates were announced. My name was one of them! Wow – I hadn’t quite expected it but now the first round was done! I now started getting anxious because the next few rounds involved group discussions and face to face interviews, which I wasn’t prepared for.
The group discussion saw a few candidates trying to grab their chance and selling the same point again and again, and I was one of those who just looked at them, confused, not knowing what to talk. Well, for the topic given, there seemed to be no one right answer. Suddenly, the interviewer – who was also the zonal head – asked me to summarize – probably because I seemed to be keenly listening but hadn’t spoken a single word. All eyes were on me. I knew this was my chance and I had to speak with confidence – whether I had any points or not. And till date I can’t believe – I spoke with confidence, my tone soft yet firm. On the inside, I was scared and nervous, and to suppress that, I developed a new confidence on the outside. I have no idea where that came from….. but it did!
The interviewer was impressed and after few more rounds, I was selected for the job. It seemed like an accomplishment because there were 200 others – and only 30 were to be selected finally. As I realised later in the day, the written test was one of the biggest hurdles of the interview as it was a combination of luck and skills. The rest of it depended on how one answered the questions posed by the interviewer and projected ones personality which should be that of a confident, knowledgeable person with great communication skills.
The company’s corporate office looked so posh and as I waited to complete the joining formalities, I noticed a few people in formal attire moving around – looking dapper in suits and formals, sporting trendy watches and coolers and shoes. They exhibited professionalism and the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs. This was a whole new world of which I was going to be a part of, very soon. That I would be able to match their grace and dealings as calmly as they were doing, were the things racing in my mind as I signed the contract.
Over the years, I got to learn new corporate jargon and life skills – constantly making new connections, being diplomatic, polite and smiling even when evidently getting screwed! I realised that it wasn’t OK to not reply to an e-mail ASAP and that bringing more work to the table was an implicit KRA for everyone. The corporate culture follows a methodology where people need to be proactive and constantly reinvent to the wheel. Strategic planning and value addition supposedly help to reach a win-win situation!
A few years down the line, the rosy picture of promotions and make-believe happiness stopped with a jolt. Money was high, but so was the stress. Perks were high, but so was the work. There was a constant sense of insecurity. I had to prove to be the best all the time, keep myself abreast with the latest and yes, I couldn’t be a purely technical person anymore, I had to manage people and had to learn politics – hands-on! Before I realised, I was a part of the dirt. I faced tough questions and had to make hard decisions. Who should I choose to retain in the company?
a people friendly guy with no technology sense vs a know-it-all reserved, shy person,
a bread-winner for the entire family vs a pregnant lady –
As I took trepid steps towards home, my eyes moistened as a result of the unfair dilemma that I was entrusted with to resolve. I walked faster and faster, gathering determination with each footfall – I can’t run away, I thought. I am born to solve problems – I have to bring out the steel in me and prove my mettle – I vowed to think right for the organisation, be victorious and righteous, no matter what! After all, successful people are strong for a reason!