Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two years into the PGSEM programme

Two years ago, a bunch of people met each other for the first time, ready to embark on a journey. Well, not so much as ready, as excited. I remember my first class. This prof with a resounding voice comes in, introduces himself, and begins to take a class on Microeconomics. And I couldn't help marvel at the technology in that class, at the prof, at the people around me, younger and older, at the thought that all of us were here by choice to better ourselves and not just out to get a job. I felt like such a greenhorn when a few of the guys in class already knew stuff like Assets and Liabilities, others knew stuff related to Marketing and quite a few did a LOT of reading, of books by management gurus.

A quarter later, I was nervous. Results had come out, and you get to see how you've done. Now here's the interesting bit. You're not bothered about the grade, it's useless as you don't get placed. But you are reminded of where you stand in class, and of an apparent notion that many others understood the subject the way the prof intended them to... better than you. And you vow to do better.

A year later, the moment the exams got over, I just had to rush out of Bangalore to take a break. All the work, all the study, it gets to you and you just want to clear your head. You come back from your break, and get to work. And you see how your friends and colleagues look differently at you. That 'clearing of head' allows you to see what you're doing differently now, compared to a year ago. It's a little impressive... to feel a change coming over you, like you know a little more to face the world than a year ago. And you're ready to attack the next year with renewed vigour, and in the knowledge that... something's... working.

Two years later, the exams get over, and you feel a sense of relief... but it's not as pronounced as what it was the first time. You're thinking "I can do this, this has happened before. Now it's just another two more quarters". And in office demos and customer meets, somebody throws "What's the value proposition?", you're comfortably able to explain how your product is 'adding value', it almost becomes a familiar thing. Someone else throws a business problem at you, and you identify a couple of new angles that weren't on the table before. You're not fixing a problem, but you're helping identify other potential scenarios that your team will together deal with. You suddenly realize that you have some knowledge that others around you might not, but unlike a newbie, you have the experience to know that you don't get gold stars by hoarding info and being the go-to-man. People look to you to be a part of a team, and if you fulfil your part, your team and you are the better for it.

And then you wonder that you know this much more now, does that mean you're a better person than you were before? I remember the engineer I was, the way I thought... I don't think that way anymore. Is that a good thing? If I speak with a technical lead today, and we face a problem... I often find myself on the side I would vehemently oppose a couple of years ago. Was I right then? Am I right now? Does this new understanding of 'value' and 'role of corporate entities' distort the way I should be? I know a lot more now, I've opened myself to accept what the profs teach, to the extent that you accept them to be true with minimal questioning. I've become a lot more calculative, is a certain action worth the cost? Is that a good thing?

Two years down the road, I might be a lot more clear on what mistakes corporations have done in the past. I might not repeat the same things. Why then do I feel a certain uneasiness? Now that people look at me differently, and I have more understanding than I did a couple of years back does it guarantee right decisions from me in future? Looks like some old problems have made way for some new ones.

Two years back, I felt excited. And nervous. The feeling isn't that different today.

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