Modern jobs suck.
Modern education misleads you into thinking that you will actually have a meaningful job and actually make a difference to whoever you are serving. This is especially true of Indian education where, for a large part of our lives, indian students were fed a regular diet of “high score, good job” by both our teachers and our parents.
Come college and I was surrounded by engineers suddenly displaying a bewildering interest in “innovation, invention and entrepreneurship”. Great environment for a driven, ambitious, creative person, not so great for a guy who still played by the rules and kow towed to the age old good boy goal of securing a good GPA. With blinkers screwed into my forehead, I did exactly that. I ended up with an 8.9 GPA and no resume-worthy extracurricular, hobby or project.
It was a God send when I got selected in the campus placements by one of the big three automobile manufacturers of America. Buoyed by the safe feeling of having a bird in hand, the halcyon first six months passed by in a blur of making new friends and going out. For the first time in my life, I had a large group of friends and I discovered that people saw me as more than just a nerd. I could make them laugh, my interests interested them and I was always noticed when I entered a room.
Come January and I was assigned to my first role after training. I had the initial noob reaction of feeling inadequate compared to my colleagues and the classic ‘nod-your-head’ approach to authority. I noticed immediately that the job was rather …. stupid. It was documentation essentially but the people here took it seriously – way too seriously. I justified it as my newness to the world of adulthood. I would get used to it, this is how the world works, I said to myself.
The worst six months of my life followed. I nodded to every guy who acted like he knew what he talked about. I worked inhuman hours. I was afraid of any reproach. I didn’t send a mail without my team leader’s approval. I submerged any creativity and judgement I had within the depths of my soul and made myself a robot.
The realization struck me much later. I was a fish in a tree climbing contest. I had compared myself to people who had spent three or more years placing dots and squares on a screen and had the audacity to call themselves engineers. Every ounce of creativity had seeped out of them and they prostituted their mind and dignity to their managers who were obsequious non entities with hydraulic springs attached to their heads.
At one point, I had the opportunity to show them my talents at speaking and presenting. They were blown away by what my friends would have called normal chatter. The effort was lauded but immediately I was thrown into multiple teams and expected to make presentations for managers whose only idea of a reward was a patronizing pat on the back
One of these idiots thought photons are the particles that revolve around the nucleus. I was petrified when I simulated myself in his chair in 10 years. All they want is the target. You worked 26 hours at a stretch? Here’s a promotion. You leave on time to see your wife? Stay at the same place for the next five years. You have set a target for two weeks from now? Well too bad, I need it tomorrow afternoon for a meeting. Shine my ass well. Lick that cheek and wipe that centerfold.
I sit here today looking back at two years of dot placing. I regret not taking better care of my body, of not keeping in touch with my engineering knowledge, of not pursuing or discovering my passions much earlier. But this experience has given me a newfound respect for discipline. I wouldn’t be sane if I had not kept up a routine. The only thing that keeps me going is my end of the day jog.
I still worry about the fact that if I quit my job, I’ll have nothing to do for ten months before business school, that I’ll lose touch with the only friends circle I have and that I don’t really know where I’m heading. And I step off the landing…….