What you could still do if you are not from IIT/NIT
This post is for those students who by choice or by chance find themselves in colleges which do not enjoy the same brand reputation and infrastructure that IITs and NITs do and hence feel disadvantaged when it comes to competing with students from premier institutes for internship and career opportunities. While it would be foolish to state that college brand does not play a role in deciding your career path in a country where dowry rates depend on the chip you carry on your shoulder; my experience of interacting with thousands of students over last 2 years, suggests that not all hope is lost if you are determined to fight against the odds!
I want to ask you sir, is there any scope for a student like me who is a non-IITian/NITian, to get internship of my choice. I had gone through almost every internship of my interest. What they want is previous projects,internships,referees, recommendations etc. Although those are not mandatory but these stuff is mostly available to “branded geeks”. No one is willing to consider us.I am enrolled to a affiliated college, in 2nd year having Electronics & Comm. branch. I waited for 1 year to become eligible for a few internships, and now think will have to wait for another 2 years till i am in final year and do some projects and then apply for those internships. My engineering degree will be a scrap if so happened. I don’t want just a degree, I want a quality degree.Why they can’t consider the ”raw(s)”, I need a starter to start the chain reaction. Can you assist me with some motivation and a few CV/Resume samples of an applicant having no previous experience and no jewels on academic front but is determined to grab them.
I often get emails like these from students. I believe answer to Do I still have a shot at quality internships and career opportunities even if I am not from a reputed college? is YES and here is how you can do it.
1. Take responsibility for your life: – Yes, may be life served you a raw deal. May be you did not study hard enough, may be you fell sick on that fateful day of JEE or may be it was plain bad luck or lack of resources. Truth is you are where you are today and you have a choice to make. You can either continue to blame the system, the government, the society, your parents, your teachers, your college, and your neighbor’s dog about the difficult situation you find yourself in OR you can decide to take control of your life and do everything possible with in your reach to ensure it gets better from here on. Bad news is, if YOU don’t decide to do something about your life, nobody else will.
2. Learn outside the classroom: – Poor quality of teachers is one of the biggest challenges our country faces today and may be your teachers are not as inspiring, as knowledgeable as you would want them to be. However, in today’s information age, that are ample learning avenues outside the classroom a few of which are listed below that you could explore -
- The thing called internet – Did you know that many of the world’s best universities (MIT, Stanford, and even IITs now) offer many of their courses online to students all over the world for free. For those for whom this is a news, try visiting http://coursera.org or http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/
- The festivals, not traditional ones – Almost all the IITs have technical festivals (Shaastra from IIT Madras, Tech Fest from IIT Bombay, Cognizance from IIT Roorkee, Kshitij from IIT Kharagpur, Techkriti from IIT Kanpur, Tryst from IIT Delhi, and Techniche from IIT Guwahati) which are great platforms for you to learn, compete and network with fellow students and professionals in the field. Even if you know nothing, just go there and you would be amazed how rich experience and knowledge you would come back with.
- Remember Eklavya – There can not be a better example than Eklavya in Indian mythology who was not in a very different situation 5,000 years ago as you are in today. Did he sit down and waste his time brooding over how unfair the life was? No. Learn by yourself. Start writing your own programs, building your own projects & models – no matter however small and insignificant they may seem to others but to you they would not only provide with practical knowledge but also give you lot of confidence. For programmers, participating in different online programming contests (CodeChef is a great place to start) can be a life changing experience.
- Train: – If all of the above fail to do the trick and you need holding hands to get off the mark, there are many reputed training programs being offered by companies like IBM, HP, Microsoft, Cisco etc. that you can join after class hours or during your winter/summer breaks.
3. Work on your communication skills: - One of the biggest advantages IITs/NITs offer is they provide you with an environment and peer group where you can learn to read, write, and speak in English really well. Remember no body would give you an internship or a job if you can not speak two complete sentences in English without grammatical, punctuation errors in it or if you can not write in a non SMS language. Spend time reading quality blogs, newspapers, watch as many English movies and serials on YouTube as possible (without subtitles please), learn to write a personal diary, and form a group with friends where its mandatory to converse only in English for an hour a day. Try this for 6 months and see the marked change in yourself and your confidence level.
4. Start small, and grow big: - I get really irritated when same students write to me saying none of the big brands like Google, ITC, McKinsey consider them for internships. Arre Bhai, when you yourself can’t give up on your obsession with big brand names; how are these companies at fault when they do the same?Why not start with smaller, lesser known companies and start ups which are less hung up on brand and more on whether you are sincere and hardworking. I’d go to the extent to propose that if nothing else works and you are getting an internship opportunity in a field not of your choice, you should take it. The amount of practical learning and the network you would build would eventually come handy in your pursuit of your true passion.
5. Have faith, don’t give up: – Because in the end it will work out just fine; it always does. Couple of years ago, I also felt that only IITians have the license to rule the world (being one of them, a part of me still wants to believe that) but over last 2 years I have been humbled enough number of times by bright students from lesser known colleges to know that it is not true. I just counted, ~50% of long term interns at Internshala have come from non premier colleges and we hire ONLY the best; my CEO at previous company I worked with (Aviva) did his graduation from MES College in Bangalore and MBA from Bharatidasan Institute of Management; the man behind Telecom revolution in India, Sam Pitroda, studied in Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodra; Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam distributed newspapers in order to financially contribute to his father’s income before studying Physics at Saint Joseph’s College, Trichy.
None of these examples are from IITs or NITs and the only common thread is the determination, perseverance and a burning desire to make a mark for oneself. Remember, life just begins at college, does not end with it. You still have plenty of time ahead to make amends; start now!