Career advice for nerds in Indian software industry
Most of the projects in indian software industry follow the 80-20 rule. The rule is simple – 80 percent of people on any project do not work and rest 20 percent sweat by the balls to get the project over the line. This minority is what I am describing as nerds here. The kind of people who are more interested in solving problems and whom managers can emotionally manipulate by appealing to their ego. If you swear that is not the case then I suspect
- You were born lucky and the planets really aligned at your auspicious birth
- You were in R&D sort of place that never shipped anything
- You are fucking ignorant
You, the nerd, belonging to this 20 percent, always working hard and toiling for others, tend to lose the big picture. That is why you wonder aloud at times, how come that slacker on my project got this wonderful job where I would not even think to apply! Mr. nerd, this piece of advice is for you. However before we go any further, few disclaimers
#1 – This piece is for people in 1-4 years of experience range, when the confusion is rampant. If you are a fresher, I do not want to spoil your innocence. If you are very experienced, you must have achieved maturity by now. If not then no advice can help you anyway because you are a proven moron.
#2 – Most of my friends are not satisfied with life and want more. This fact would reflect in my writing. I know very few people who have made their peace with their life. (one guy has gone back to tending his fields in his village, the other married into some political family and has 12 BMW as of this writing). If you have achieved peace then this piece does not apply to you.
So now we start with the rules.
Rule #1 – Never stop searching.
This is rule #1. If you can follow just one rule then this is the one to follow. A typical nerd tendency is to always look for a job when you actually need it. “You actually need it” is such a burden. The job offers that you can get has a probability distribution. What are the chances of the management at your dream company opening a requirement that actually suits you in precisely the same time window when you are looking out? Unfortunately, very little.
You need a big time window to grab good opportunities. You should be able to say “No” to half decent offers and wait for the one you need. What is the harm in keeping your resume open on job sites? At worst lot of mails land in a email account. Let that be. If you are really really not interested in looking out then you can just set a filter to delete all inbound mails.
Rule #2 – Performance on internal projects is irrelevant
This may surprise you. The fact that you were the one who did everything on your project and pushed it over the line does not mean anything in the market. Why? Simply because every son of a gun on that project – whether he just came to scratch his ass or massage your manager’s balls will write things like
- interacted with clients and gathered project requirements
- implemented difficult foo module to suck bar
- star performer award from Global X center
No sun of a gun can verify these claims. First, I do not know an ass about your project. Second, I do not know a shit about your team dynamics. For all I know, you may have got module X because it was not included in release plan and since you screw everything anyway, the only safe bet for them was to hand you module X. It is just your claim vs. someone else’s claim. Look at all those linkedIn profiles. Does any mxtxerxucker says,
- fucked my module beyond redemption – the only way forward was someone else should rewrite from spec.
- I write Maggi noodles in my code – no mxtherxucker can understand it – not even me
- I fucked the installer so bad – it was deleting user accounts
- I have copied + pasted my project description from marketing brochure/ My colleague’s CV
- Sane people avoid me like plague
No. we do not see such claims and I bet you can identify atleast one for each category from your previous project. So in absence of real verifiable information (No company releases their internal performance appraisal of projects) – your project performance cannot be a criteria for selection in market. The only rule there is, lie like hell. (Feel free to use the template above)
The fact that you get praised a lot, work so hard and will die for your project means nothing to a hiring manager in the market. Hiring managers are looking for a fit into their requirements.
So you should think more in terms of your employability in the market. This advice is not to make you a slacker but what you are doing today should fit into your long term plans. Your hard work is your investment into your future. Do a bad investment and ten years down the line you cannot reap any benefits from it. Do things from two perspectives only
- Your interests
- Market’s interest
Rule #3 Plan your career _a_bit_
If this looks like a crap MBA advice then we need to clarify few things. First, very few young guys and people fresh out of college have a long term plan. (Thing like, I want to be the first tourist in space or I want to be president of repulic Bococa etc.) So we are not talking about the career planning in that sense. That is why we use the word, “_a_bit_”. Heck, even very few old people know their long term plans and very few of us have a list of “things to do before I die”.
Also, there are lot of practical realities, like the bills to be paid. We may not simply have the option to say no to that job offered in campus. However, being a driftwood and I-will-do-whatever-comes-
The right approach should be to do things, discover things and then try to do more of what you like doing and less of what you do not like doing. The aim is to get to the point where someone will pay me for doing what interests me. We are talking about planning your career in that sense. If others are planning your career then do not expect it to be an interesting one. This also ties with Rule #2, do not think you are married to your project. Your project should also return something to you in way of your career. This is also tied to rule #1, i.e. an interesting job may need more job hunting time.
Rule #4 Find time for yourself
A nerd is always toiling hard. As a consequence he seldom surveys the market and reflects on his needs. How can you know what interests you if you never try to pursue your interests in the first place? It could be that you really liked that probability and statistics course in college and now you are a good candidate for machine learning. However your job as the DBA designate at company X is leaving you so exhausted that you never had a chance to look at what is on offer at coursera.
To get what you want, you need to develop skills and to develop skills you need to practice. To practice, you need time and to find time, you need to make time. Since there are only 24 hours in the day, learn to cut the crap out of your life.
If you are coming back from office at 4Am in morning and then need to go back again at 12 then you are wrapped in your problem. You really do not have any time for reflections. Your brain is overloaded with useless details pertaining to your project, such as
- Call japan, ask for latest resource bundles
- Shit, I have a meeting with east coast folks at 7
- what was that tool X told me about to dis-assemble binaries
- maybe the per session design is blocking concurrency, gotta check
- Beg IT for an extra box
see? you are not even thinking sex. Do you see the problem here? Your brain is always cocoon-ed in details like these. You are not spending even a minute a day thinking about how to advance your career and your market employability. You simply do not have the right training to find a good job because you have never thought about it. How can a guy who have never spent a waking moment training his mind for a great career actually get it?
Rule #5 – Never get emotional, ever!
Nerds take pride in their work and they like to solve problems. Any third rate rat-ass line manager knows this fact. (This is part of their training handbook). Say, you have a team of 15 people. Ideally everyone should pull their weight and the duty of your line manager is to ensure that everyone actually does. That would happen in an ideal world where justice prevails and I fuck every night.
However this rat-ass third rate line manager has two options before him
- Try to make those 12 fat assed, hide-thick-as-of-rhinocer
os-bastards actually make do some work
- Appeal to nerdy emotions of 3 good guys and make them do the work of 15 guys
Not even God can make Fat assed, hide-thick-as-of-rhinocer
Labhet Siktasu Telama-pi Yatna-Tah-Peerayan
Gyaan Lav Durvi-dhangnam Naram Brahma-pi Na Ranjayet
Getting oil out of sand is easy
Even Brahma cannot make hide-thick-as-of-rhinecer
Since option #2 is the only viable option, Your rat assed manager will appeal to your nerdy emotions, saying things like
- You are the only one who can do it
- If you do it, you will get promotion/raise/chance to lick the sweaty armpits of X
- You are like my junior/ younger brother /
- This is a good opportunity for you to learn things
- If you do not do it then I have no option but to smudge your reputation etc.
Nerds, do not fall for it. First thing is, you belong to that 20 percent category. Hey you can actually do things with your hand. You are in demand. Fuck the rat assed guy. He is a fucking line manager just trying to sound all important. Most of the crap he is trying to impress you with have been heard second hand in some third rate meeting. He is a fucking no-body.
Motherfucker is not doing his job. His job is to make sure that everyone works. He gets his instructions via some system and no motherfucker would be bold enough to rate you very low. He does not have the balls for that. Most he can do is move your rating one tick here and there. How does it matter in the big scheme of things? Nothing. Fuck him. fuck the rat faced.
Think of it again, all this time wasted on this stupid project! Unless you are interested in it, just do your portion and think of your employability in the wider context (Rule #2) and use the extra time to plan your career and pursue your interests.
Rule #6 Always be in an interview mode
You will hear this time and again. I cannot send you my CV because right now I am not prepared. what do you mean by getting prepared mother_fucker? It is not like you are going to take a sabbatical to some woods and pore over those algorithm and pattern recognition book for one year and come back prepared.
Lets face it. you have been planning to get prepared for last five years and you are still not prepared. what is the guarantee that you will be prepared in next five days, five weeks or even five years?
what great things will you learn in next five weeks or five months that will dazzle public and make them admire you? Learning is a continuous process. If you are not in the habit of learning then you will need to get into it. That means changing your habits and following rule #2 and rule #4.
Good opportunities are few and far between. If you are not prepared then someone else will grab it. Take example of MNC product companies opening their development centers in India. Have not you heard of these stories?
A) Lot of mother fucker bozo engineers got 14L/ annum when their colleagues were getting 7L/annum because the _bozo_ hiring manager from US thought that 30,000 USD was a Janitor’s salary. see the power of being prepared and being there?
B) Lot of monkey fucking bozos moving back from US convinced the management to pay them a discounted US salary. Lot of chimp fucking bozos got the “parity” salary and both groups got lucky.
Point is, you have to be ready to grab your chances when they come. You cannot afford to be in a hibernate mode. You should think of the wider context, find time for yourself and be ready, always.
Reblogged – http://rjha.quora.com/Career-advice-for-nerds-in-Indian-software-industry