Bangalore: As Indian companies apply the brakes on hiring, Mint talked with four young people who thought they were on the cusp of what should have been bright careers in a booming economy. None of the students wanted their names mentioned for fear of jeopardizing future jobs. Edited conversations:
Opting for CAT
On 9 October, I booted up my computer and found an email saying ‘has cancelled the job offer made to you on account of the slowdown in the US. We advise you to consider alternative offers. In case things get better we will get back to you.’”
As if I had loads of other offers.
Was I upset? Upset is an understatement!
I had landed the job in the seventh semester of my electrical and electronics engineering at National Institute of Technology, Surathkal in September 2007. I relaxed after getting a good job, with a good company with a good reputation.
Even though this company (an outsourced product developer in Bangalore) postponed my joining date several times, saying their new campus was not ready, I never thought they would back out. But they eventually did.
Until (this past) Sunday, I focused on nothing but the CAT (Common Admission Test for entering MBA programmes). This is how the last seven months played out for me one day at a time:
Wake up early, at 5:30 am. Go for a jog. Come home in time for breakfast. Check mails. Do some test papers. Surf the internet, read about US elections, new software or economic theories. Take online German classes. Lunch. Half an hour nap. Prepare for CAT and brush up engineering concepts in case I have to attend any interview. Read newspapers, some eight of them. Evening: Play basketball or table tennis with colony friends. Come home. Dinner. Watch TV. Sleep early.
Now that CAT is over, I’ll go to Bangalore in search of a job.
Graveyard shift at the call centre
Life is hectic. The hours are maddening at the call centre. But something to keep me busy and make some money as well.
The frustration was mounting so I took up a job at a call centre at Noida (outside New Delhi). A fortnight back, I got an email saying that the on-boarding process with the multinational IT services and consulting firm that had recruited me will start in December. This is after months of phone calls that got me the company’s answering machine, and repeated emails that only fetched me computer-generated responses.
(This 22-year graduate got placed in his seventh semester at Indraprastha College of Engineering, Ghaziabad, in September 2007)
I reach home at 10 am after my night shift. Rustle up some breakfast. Sleep. Wake up at 4 pm. Go out for lunch. My flat mates are usually out looking for jobs. I live with five friends, all classmates from my engineering college. Three of them work in call centres and the other two are job hunting. Once my friends are back, we catch up and go out for dinner. Take the office cab to go to work after that. One and a half hours of commute. At work make phone calls, sporting an American accent reminding people to pay their dues. It is a revenue collection service. Shift goes on from 1:30 am to 8:00 am. Take the cab back home.
(Do you think you will be joining your job in December?) “I think so. The mail from the company was very reassuring saying that the offer letter is valid through out (these months). But I’m also applying for other jobs, forwarding my resume to some of my seniors. But there are no vacancies.”
Watching the Dow
I (graduated from) Indraprastha Engineering College, Ghaziabad, six months back.
Last week, I got a letter from (one of the largest Indian IT services vendors) saying I have to join work on 24 November.
When I got this job (in March 2007) it was not so exciting but now, am I relieved. Today, it is a desperate situation for students; any job is good.
Over the last six months I’ve been at home with my parents. I wake up as late as possible, around 10 or 11 am, on hearing my father shout: “You’ll be a loser if you go on like this.”
Watch television for 2-3 hours. Lunch. Internet, what a boon. Read about everything from economictimes.com to celebrity gossip, and articles on business and economics. I should be up-to-date in case I have to face any interviews. Go to my friend’s house in the evening. He too is in the same situation with his joining date deferred for months. We try to pacify each other.
Come back home, watch CNBC from 7 pm. Listen to the predictions for Dow Jones every day knowing that the same things will affect the Sensex the next day. It’s terrifying but entertaining. Dinner. Watch TV till 2 am.
The deferral helped
(This 21-year old electronics & communications engineer from MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore, got a job with a mid-sized, Indian IT services and consulting firm in November 2007 through campus recruitment. He graduated in June and the very next month landed a research post as a project assistant with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. In September he got an email saying his joining date with the IT services firm would be as late as April 2009. The deferral kind of helped him (to choose research).
“I didnt have to make a choice (between job or research).” Asked if he would join the IT company in April he says, “I don’t think so. I took up the job offer from campus because all my friends were taking it but I’m more interested in research.”
This is how he describes his typical day:
I go to IISc every morning by 9 am. Work with a team of three researches on an image processing project in the lab. Lunch. More research. Get home sometimes by 6 pm or work late till say 9 pm. There is no compulsion to work late but I like to. Go for a walk in the evening with friends. Read research papers and spend 1-2 hours prepping for GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, an admission test to masters in engineering). Turn in by midnight. I aim to be a research scientist with IISc.
I earn a stipend from the institute and live with my parents so things are fine despite the economic crisis.