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Benefits, Longevity and Life after IT Job

Name : Susmitha Unnikrishnan
Company : UST Global

I rushed to office in the wee hours of a Thursday morning dashing through the heavy traffic. The stern security (or securities rather) welcomed the techies demanding to display their ID cards. I was standing there searching my bag for that damn ID card which I had dumped deep inside my handbag. After a few minutes of searching \interrogation of my bag, when I was almost ready to say I hadn’t bought it that day and needed the temporary card, there it was, the cord of the ID peeping at me – teasing, from the lunch bag. I am not sure how it landed there and I don’t care either. But, before the security nodded in acceptance to enter the IT Park, I had already sped to my building to get the swipe record for that morning. I had planned to leave early that day and wanted to make up for the week’s total hours.

     Back at my seat, the desktop system started like an old rusted jalopy. The system had been taking heavy load like me lately. Had to process so many documents, tools, vpn connectivity blah blah and blah and working without any rest all through. I sat there staring and pitying my friend – the desktop system. The desktop has been my sole companion at work – usually faithful. But gets sick due to strain once a while. I loved her in spite of such setbacks, since she was more reliable compared to the one I was reporting to.

After the system was up and running, as I read the day’s emails, this particular email caught my attention. It would catch any body’s attention for that matter. It was an escalation email from the client. Life had enough multitasks, in spite of which, most of the priority and time was spent in the office task. Here was this strong blow. A single escalation and all that you have done over months are over looked by the management. I was frustrated. I needed a break, so did my friend, the desktop system. I shut my friend down for some time and walked out of my office building, for a break.

The lush green, neatly groomed on either sides of the road outside, was inviting. Too tempted to resist the pleasure to take a walk, I started my stroll through the IT Park.

Mind being disturbed, constantly complained and reminded that getting into this Industry was not a wise decision at all. After all, what was this industry all about – politics and stress?

Various phases of life were flowing in mind, like a small stream, in no hurry to reach the ocean.

Being born to the 80s listening to ‘Mile sure mera tumhara..’ , watching the Mahabharata\Ramayana series, ‘Circus he bhai circus duniya ek circus he..’ , ’Malgudi days’ was undoubtedly a blessing. This era is often referred to as the golden period. Indeed it was and I miss those times too. Life was full of values and had little sophistications. Mobile phones where not heard of. Instant food was also not known. Everyone cooked with effort. There were only barber shops and beauty parlors – no unisex saloons. Bollywood, Mollywood, tollywood, Sallywood – all woods had limited releases and everything themed on sari clad women crying from start to end, a lecherous villain and a boot pant Hero.

During weekends the DD- Doordarshan telecast movies like ‘Hathi Mere Sathi’ or some mythological movies. Cricket as always, was famous. I was not very much into the sport, but often saw spring haired Ravi Shastry, Sunil Gavasker and Kapil Dev in white clothes on TV. Gradually, the cable connection arrived, the channels increased and people’s mindset started changing and consumer expectation on was high. People loved to use automated gadgets/appliances where ever they could. IT was creeping into every aspect of life.

It was only during the late 90s, IT started getting so famous (or maybe it’s just that I started hearing about it then more often than before). There was always a neighbor’s son or daughter, a relative or some acquaintance who got placed in an IT industry. News spread that they had made it big in the company, earning well and started travelling across the world. Their proud parents went about with swollen chest and empty head to attend any function remotely associated with them to brag about their son\daughter’s achievement. Everyone else, who gathered to listen to this marketing session, yearned to get the alliance for their own son\daughter for the best deal. To make the entire process less stressful and avoid traveling charges for the cause, some master brain from the IT industry set up the matrimonial site. Now the scope of the targeted audience was everywhere in the world. One could even upload any number of Photo shop edited pictures too. A scar there, a mole here, a squint eye – almost anything could be fixed with a Photoshop .If not for IT, all these tasks could never be imagined.

Soon, the trend was, anyone who got married, got married to a Software Engineer. Everyone else was considered to be below the acceptable Social Status. As years passed, when the initial excitement was over, people started spreading the rumor, that the life out here, in the IT industry is one with numerous defects.

The way side barbers carrying a small box of their outdated tools for cutting and shaving, few decades back, earning a meager income, are now referred to as ‘Hair Stylists’. They earn 3 times more than an IT employee and have more respect these days. Thanks to the IT industry.  The once upon a time women referred to as ‘maids’ or ‘ sweepers’  are now referred to as ‘Housekeeping staff’. Well, they deserve respect too in the society. Personally, I know of a woman who used to sell milk door to door during my childhood. Today she makes frequent visits to the US , as her daughter is in the IT field and doing well in an MNC in the US. Plenty of families who were struggling with their debts have been benefited when someone from the family got into the IT sector. This industry provided opportunity to all human race and ethnic groups equally without any bias or reservations.

During our father and fore father’s time, employees waited in long queues to fetch their salaries from the banks. Presently IT has saved time and effort with ATM centers and online transactions. This is just an example. IT companies have made so many difficult day to day activities simpler in lesser time with more efficiency.

IT has proved that every job deserves respect and also that every person has the right to enjoy luxuries in life – irrespective of the caste, creed, religion, region or gender.  There is less human intervention in many tasks and with more accuracy.

Also, the corporate initiative that IT companies do to help those in need in the society is also noteworthy.

What is special about this industry?

Wasn’t India known to be a slow bureaucracy long ago, but, now known across the globe, as the world’s largest IT capital? What about the GDP now compared to 30 years back –It’s almost doubled! The number of employments that the IT sector provides each year is the reason why unemployment among the educated crowd has reduced. Imagine where would all of us be, if not the for the IT sector?  We would still be watching movies similar to those semi old Malayalam movies which reflected the common problem faced by the youth during that time – unemployment .Either the hero or his best friend always had a few sisters to marry of, a handicapped sibling and a list of other miseries his family faced (not to forget the hero or his friend often pooled in their meagre saving to fetch a visa in a consultancy somewhere in Bombay to travel to Dubai to look for a job. The hero or his friend often ended up cheated adding misery to his already existing list). Movies today hardly reflect the same problem among youth. We are long past that. That’s an improvement for sure. The standard of life has certainly moved up with the coming of the IT sector.

Corporate Leaders

There were many efficient leaders who had a vision and moved up the ladder to provide platform for the less privileged. They guided their juniors to climb up the ladder too. Such leaders where the one who set up some strong corporate giants and provided the plat form for plenty to prove themselves. These leaders had a vision and a mission. Somewhere along the way, this vision and mission is getting forgotten. Politics and greed started creeping into the industry. The number of such good leaders is decreasing every year. The biggest threat that the industry faces today is lack of good mentor. Mentors with minimum knowledge and with no clear idea of their own responsibilities are ruling across the industry at every level.  There are groups and blood shed of politics for personal gain. Leader\Manager post is misunderstood as equal to the power to suppress. When the actual purpose of each designation is deviated, automatically the industry starts rotting. A negative effort leads to a negative outcome. A positive effort leads to a positive outcome. The negative effort and negative mindset is showing up as different ailments among the techies. The industry is not to blame; it is the collective attitude of people working in this industry which is the culprit.

Hope all the corporate provide sufficient soft skill training to remind the employees regarding ‘Attitude’. Irrespective of position or years of experience, Attitude’ training must be imparted at all levels to retain the faith and trust that employees should have in this industry.

The industry by itself is not stressful as the society has branded it. It is just that the number of individuals who work without clear understanding of the goal of the company and without a clear idea of their own responsibilities who make this industry ‘stressful’ .They create an imbalance in work and life for themselves and others. Anything in the real world which sticks to the purpose will last longer…

Well, I think it’s time for me to wake up and get back to work. I feel much better and will deal with the client escalation positively. Attitude of a techie must always not be to move up the ladder my stepping on someone else. I will go up with my effort  and take whoever I can with me. My game will be ‘my effort’ and not politics.