A few days ago, I met a handful of Engineering final years. It was a work thing, and I had to see if they’d fit into our team.
It was all professional and serious until I got bored. I wasn’t used to interrogating people, trying to assimilate their love for words when I knew in the back of my mind that the sole reason they faced me was because they didn’t clear the developer round.
One after the other, they narrated their resumes word to word, even as I held them in my hand.
And that’s when I realised: they were just kids. They haven’t got their life figured out.
And if we expect them to walk out of their graduation party all decked up and society-ready, we’d be disappointed.
I’m no mind reader. But from what I figured, these youngsters need reality checks. Their parents and teachers have pampered them far too long in the guise of nurturing them. And what’s worse, they’ve gotten so used to it that they have no idea of the shitty world they’d step into.
Not all of them were as naive, however. Some of them understood they need to hard sell their way in out of college and into a job. And they put on a good show too. With confident smiles, they tread as if there were no ice to break. But underneath a layer of mysticism and offhandedness, their eyes reeked desperation to impress. They were stuck in life but didn’t want to come off as such. They’d chosen Engineering either because they thought they’d be good at it, or because their parents had swallowed its bloated potential.
It was evident that none of them knew it then — which is natural — but they had all settled for what they had been thrust into.
They had taken their parents’ word because that’s what children do. Three years in, however, they know now that that’s not their calling.
They sought the tipping point where they could find a home for their soul while keeping their parents happy, too. They knew they had whiled away on something they didn’t want to, but they were optimistic. It was a sad sight.
They had walked into their first year in Engineering hoping they’d be good at it. And as they reached their third year, they had concluded they weren’t as bad as they could be.
They came to like Engineering.
They adapted; they had begun to slaughter their dreams.
But somewhere deep down, they seemed to know it was their final chance to get out. They had been doing what they didn’t want to do for so long that it had messed with their heads. They almost believed they loved what they didn’t.
That’s when most parents suggest they complete their MBA. And from experience, I know MBA graduates are stronger and more convinced about their career choices. They would have graduated as Electrical Engineers, and followed it up with an MBA in Finance. And in their interview, they’d declare their passion had been for numbers all along. They were convinced because they had adapted.
But the soon-to-be Engineering graduates sitting in front of me were not there yet. They were struggling to get there, trying hard to impress, and masquerading confidence.
They didn’t have their life figured out. And that’s a good thing. They were vulnerable and that made them valuable. They were ready to accept that their Engineering certificate may not feed their soul.
They were rusty professionals with patchy expectations, but they were hard workers willing to find their calling.
And for me, that made all the difference.