NYTimes written a nice open letter to Indians Graduates and Post Graduates which touches upon nice things. You can read that article here: http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/an-open-letter-to-indias-graduating-classes/. Then there was an equally good rebuttal from an employee perspective, which you can read here: http://greatbong.net/2012/05/25/an-open-letter-to-prospective-indian-employer/.
Having hired fresh graduates almost exclusively for my startup in the last 3 – 4 years, I think I can say a little bit on this topic .
What I ask of you
Dear Fresh Graduate/Post Graduate,
We’re not Infosys or TCS or one of those socially acceptable IT companies where your parents or prospective in-laws would want you to work at. If you wish to work with us, here’s what I would ask of you:
Be Inquisitive, Be Driven
This is the first thing and the most important thing that I ask of you. Please, please be inquisitive. Be curious!!! This is what will separate you from the crowd. You have the entire Internet available at your disposal. Make use of it. You have heard about a new technology. Instead of wondering what it is, hit the Internet and find out about it. I know you can do it. Just have the drive to do it.
Be a Good Communicator
We don’t want you to have “Excellent Communication Skills”. No, we really don’t. By being a good communicator we also don’t mean you to try and speak “Englis”. We just want you to think straight and present your thoughts in a cohesive manner. That will do for now. We do realize that “Speaking English” is a must in today’s IT world but given that you’re joining right out of college and if I were an IT services company I would be committing suicide putting you in front of my client. Luckily I am not an IT services company so there are no clients with whom I can put you in a meeting with. Realize that speaking English is a skill and skills can be acquired (there are far too many schools available for that and if everything fails we have Rapidex English Speaking course ).
Be a Thinker
I will refrain from using the phrase “Think Outside Of The Box” because I really don’t want you to think outside of the box just yet. There would be ample opportunities for that. However I don’t want you to be a passive receiver as well. Put your own touch to the things you’re asked to do. You’ll fuck up, there’s no doubt about that but if you don’t, how will you learn. The idea is to learn from your mistakes and never repeat them.
Get On LinkedIn, Start a Blog
It’s great that you’re on Facebook, Orkut (not sure if anybody uses that anymore), Hi5 and God knows what all social networks. But can you please be on LinkedIn? You’re a professional (or trying to be one), for God’s sake. Take some time and set up your profile on LinkedIn. If you send me an invite to get connected there, I’ll be glad to (it would be nice if you could put some context in your invite, it helps ).
Start writing a blog. Doesn’t matter what you write (unless you start writing stuff which is unacceptable in professional world), just write something. It would give me an idea about how you think before I even meet you. If a 9 year old can write a blog, I’m sure you can too.
Another word: Unless I have met you personally, don’t you dare send me an invitation on connect to Facebook. Please don’t feel otherwise, BUT YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND (just yet). Facebook is for personal relationship, LinkedIn is for professional. It’s as simple as that.
Show a little bit of professionalism
College is done!! You’re no longer in college. Fun times are over. Time to show a little bit professionalism. This does not mean you have to show up wearing suits and ties.
Start appreciating the value of time (of yours and others too). If somebody calls you at 11:00, realize that it’s NOT OK to show up at 11:05. 11:00 means 11:00.
Before you hit that “Send” button on your email to me, please make sure that you have read and understood what you have written. Show it to a few friends and see if they understood it as well. Stop using slangs in your emails.
It’s NOT OK to use “Thanku” or “Thankuuuuuuuuuu” when you meant to say “Thank You”.
Go easy on your CAPS lock on your computer.
Learn some etiquettes and while you’re at it learn some netiquettes too. Nobody will get back to you ASAP.
Just because you have my email address, does NOT give you the right to send me email on every festival or sending me invitations to connect on social networks or ask me to watch a video which you found funny. Same thing with phone as well. Don’t send me SMSes unless I ask you to. You’re wasting your parent’s money (because you haven’t just started earning yet)
Find out who we are and what we do
So we’re not the name you have heard of before. Somebody told you about our name and you managed to send us an email through our website’s contact us page. But before sending out that bloated, meaningless resume of yours through that page, please take a moment to learn about what we do. Because that’s the first thing I will ask. Working for a startup is like flying in business class. There a very few seats available.
Also, you’re a fresher. It is OK if you don’t send your resume. I know your nationality is Indian and I honestly am not that interested in getting to know your parent’s name, your address, your date of birth or how many marks you have scored in 10th grade. If you have really accomplished something, then please DO share that. I would love to know.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself that you didn’t get selected at any IT major
So your friends got selected at one of those big IT majors and you didn’t. BIG DEAL. GET OVER IT. Your friend would be 1-in-1000 while you would be 1-in-10 (or may be 1-in-5). He would undergo training which he will never use whereas you will learn stuff which you will be able apply immediately. He would be a team member taking orders from an incompetent “team leader” who got in the position because he was with the company for 2 years where as you will influence and shape the future of the company (regardless of how small it may be). He would be treated like a resource who gets allocated to projects at will whereas you will be treated like a team member. He would go on bench and would kill time browsing the Internet or just slacking off where you will always be on your toes working towards something.
What you can expect in return
So I asked many things of you, genuinely you will ask what can you expect in return. Here’re some of the things you can expect:
You’ll be treated fairly
You’ll be treated fairly and will be treated like any other team member. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean you will be left out or treated differently. I’ll be as open to you as I will be with other members of the team. If I think I can share something about our company with you, I will share that.
Just because you’re new you will not be asked to work your ass off working late during weekdays and weekends. Sure, there will be time when one needs to work hard but at that time it will not be just you who’s working hard while others are slacking off. Everybody will be pulling in all-nighters or weekends. Your senior team members more than you. Since it’s a small team, your effort will be recognized and appreciated.
You’ll not be a bonded laborer
Whatever the pretext may be, having an employer make an employee sign a bond is the stupidest idea ever. Most of them put training they provide as the pretext for the bond but that’s stupid. The training which is provided to you in any company (including ours) is to ensure that you have the necessary skills to do the job at hand. It is not targeted by any means to grow you professionally (at least in the beginning). Then why should I make you sign a bond. I have a need and I see you as a good fit but you lack knowledge in the field that we’re working on. I will need to train you. It’s as simple as that. However I do expect you to do some productive work after I have spend a few months training you (and paying you as well). I think that’s a reasonable expectation.
You’ll be paid regularly
Sure, there won’t be any fancy CTCs or salary breakups. You will be told about your salary and will be paid that salary when it’s due. I will not hold any money from what I told you. If there would be a delay in making salary arrangements, you will be told in advance.
You’ll be mentored
I have refrained from using the word “Trained”. You’ll be trained to do the stuff that we need you to do as part of your day job but I know that you have other ambitions also. Unless it is in direct conflict with what we’re doing (that would be a breach of contract which will not be tolerated obviously), you will be mentored properly so that you can fulfill those ambitions. I do realize that before becoming an employer, I was an employee myself and if it were not for my previous employers I would not have been in this position. So, not doing any charity on you, just passing the baton. I hope someday when you become an employer (or a supervisor) you would do the same.
First, I think there is a lot of mismatched expectations from both employees and employers perspective. Second, I think it’s natural. I bet Infosys was not like this (and more like other cool startups) when they started out. Every company goes through that phase; It’s like when you were a kid you had different objectives in life and when you grew up you had different. Luckily in a booming economy like ours, you still have a chance to work in a place where you as an individual is valued and groomed to be a better professional. That place, my friends is the amazing world of Start Ups.
This is something we do here at our current company. It’s not made up. I know there are many startups which do the same or even better. As somebody who’s looking for a job, I urge (rather BEG you) to look beyond conventional IT jobs. I urge you to start making the difference rather than complaining why despite having so many software professionals this country is not creating “Made in India” products. Be a part of dynamic ecosystem called “Start Ups”. It’s much more fun and exciting!!!
I would like to hear your thoughts (both as an employee and an employer). Feel free to add your comments below!!!