Author: Smitha Devaraj
Company: IBS Software Services Pvt Ltd
When Arnav an engineering student looks across his house, he sees a Honda City parked outside the two storey building that is just opposite to his house. He gets to know that it has been rented out to 4 young professionals working in Technopark. From then on, Arnav (who wishes to one day work in an MNC in Technopark) keeps an eye on the 4 ‘idols’ who stay nearby. For Arnav, it’s like he is seeing a Bollywood movie right in front of his eyes. Blasting music late in the nights, stylish hairstyles, slim fit full collared shirts, pants with no pleats, double knotted ties that are in contrast to the shirts worn and sleek phones. This is not just what an ‘Arnav’ sees; this is what the whole world sees and associates with the Techies. A techie be it a son or a daughter is a mother’s pride and a neighbour’s envy. Never even once in his wildest dreams did that neighbour ever think of seeing that puny little boy grow into a genius, get an IT job, a sedan, passport and fly to exotic foreign destinations!
No wonder why everyone looks at a techie in awe. They realise that these youngsters who are sported wearing colourful ID tags and who have the ear phones perpetually hanging out of their ears (even when they are sitting in a Volvo bus that plays 92.7 Big FM songs in loud volume!) have a 5 figure salary, speak English much better than the English speaking Americans or the British and that they are a mobile gadget shop. Just look at them closely and you will notice the earphones, an Apple iPod to store the songs, a Galaxy S3 with a flashy back cover and a Sony Vaio laptop in the bag they carry. Salary does not seem to be an issue for them, they have umpteen credit cards and debit cards and hence no wonder their wallets bulge out! They have been given good etiquette trainings and hence they display professional manners. Banks are forever behind a techie asking them if they require loans for a house, loans for a car and so on.
From a techie point of view, life in an IT industry can be summed up with just one dialogue from the popular Malayalam movie Bangalore Days. In that the hero tells his cousins, “We are living our life inside a pressure cooker”. True, all techies are pressured to excel and to perform and if they fail to do so, then like the referee shows the red card, the techies are shown the pink slip. Welcome to the IT industry where for an average techie ‘it’s always green on the other side of the lawn’. He is always logged in at LinkedIn and Facebook prying out the salary hikes and benefits his friends enjoy when he too would be enjoying certain other benefits which he happily forgets. This is not just one case. This is the norm in an IT job! The unwritten rule in the IT industry is that one is not supposed to stay in an IT company for more than 3 years because if you stay so, then that tells you are a complacent type and your lack of skills.
How does a techie benefit from this job at an MNC? From his point of view, when in engineering college, he was simply dying to get into a decent company. One more thing! The company should be in Technopark or Infopark too. It should not be just a software company! It should be one which would provide him with a flashy big fat ID card, should be one which his uncles and aunts have heard of and also one where the cute girl at the next stop has got into. So he mugs up all those Sankunthala Devi puzzles, does umpteen probability and computation problems trying to solve the evergreen question- How many black balls are there in a bag containing only white balls and blue balls ! He puts on a false accent and practises in front of the mirror the whole time while trying to smarten up his English phonetic skills before the group discussion. And then lo and behold! By sprinkling some magic dust on to the interviewers, he gets in! He is finally a software engineer at a reputed MNC in Technopark!
Benefits here – Decent job, value in front of his smirking relatives, mama’s blue eyed boy.
Like a diamond separated from its ores and minerals, he is put into a rigorous training course where he is taught not just Java and HTML, but the very basics of eating with the fork and knife, of how each cutlery is placed on the dining table and even of which spoon is to be used as the soup spoon, dessert spoon and so on. He learns manners and like a gentleman, when the lift stops at a floor he wants to get down, he waits till all the ladies gets out first and holds open the door for them always. There is such a transformation in his character once he enters the IT industry.
Benefits – Java, HTML, etiquettes of international dining and manners.
Like how the caterpillar becomes the butterfly, the girls too undergo a metamorphism. They come to Technopark initially wearing jhimkis, glass bangles, anklets and oily hair. Two months down the lane, these girls turn out to be fashionistas. They sport highlighted hair in mahogany colour which has undergone a relaxation, smoothening, in short, hair straightening! Gone are the glass bangles, bindhis and silver anklets. In its place, you will notice wooden bangles in square and zig zag shapes, eyes lined in shimmering green and blue colours and anklets made of coloured beads. Girls too learn to shed their shy nature and they are transformed and instilled confidence so that they become bold enough to travel to far off destinations when the job demands it.
Benefits – Bold and beautiful girls in IT industry
From a marriage market perspective, if you would look at the IT industry, for the father of the bride, an IT professional holds the ticket to foreign locations and dreams unlimited. And if it’s a girl working in the IT industry, all the more better, would think the guy and his family, with today’s increasing cost of living and posh lifestyles. But there is slight change in this trend with the recession that struck in 2002-2007. There have been instances where advertisements for the ‘Groom wanted’ section would specifically mention ‘Software engineers please excuse’! Such became the trend and more people are now aware of the lack of job security.
But there is a general interest among the public to pry into the lives of a techie. Why? They are not very glamourous, they are not famous and we do not see their picture in the papers every day! Then what is it that invites stares from the public when a young techie waits to board the public transport? Yes it could be the style of dressing (they always sport the latest trends in the fashion industry, thanks to online shopping sites like Myntra and Fashion and You), the confidence they exude, the way they conduct themselves like as if they are a class apart. For any function, you would see them dressed appropriately for the occasion; they would know the right table manners and how to politely form a queue in front of the theatre line instead of simply pushing and shovelling everyone like the rest of the people do.
Have you ever wondered from where the techies have learnt all those manners and etiquettes? In all MNCs in Technopark, it is essential that a techie attends soft skills trainings which cater to their personality development, communication skills, language, attitude and responsiveness with other people. It is not just the hard skills like the number of lines of code that they write or their performance testing alone that matters. The organizations understand that for the success of the organization, the people who work in the organization must gel with each other understand each other and for this their soft skill side needs to be trained and developed. Moreover a techie has to take sessions for his peers or for his managers where he is rated and it could be on the basis of this rating that his next salary hike would be! So imagine the plight he is in! The techie would then research on the topic and take a presentation on the topic where he is judged not just for his knowledge on the subject but also for his time management, his communication, sense of humour, his body language and gestures and so on. The parameters can go on and on. So what happens at the end of it? The techie loses his stage fright, his inhibition of meeting and talking with people, of addressing a large crowd, of jabbering on a topic of which he may have no clue at all!
Benefits – He does not need to enrol himself into a Toastmasters programme!
Other than the ones cited above, the main benefit would be in learning to deal with foreign people or clients. If your company is in Technopark and you have a client in China where the project manager of the Chinese company is a German, then look at the multinational tie up this liaison is bringing. An Indian, a German and a Chinese guy working together for the betterment of their project. Now this can be an example for ‘unity and harmony in diversity’.
Benefits – Manners and etiquette that befit a royal family
Another advantage a techie gets is the WFH or the work from home option. This is a very useful feature as most of the techie guys gets to work from home and at the same time attend their personal issues too. For ladies, if their maids are not able to come to help on a particular day or if their child has an exam at school and the tech mom feels like she needs to help her child, she can simply avail the WFH option and do the work as well as tend to the needs of her child.
Benefits – Handle personal as well as professional work with ease
With all these advantages, why is it then that the people in the IT industry always vie for a government job? Why is it that they look forward to teaching positions? Most of them after reaching the age of 30, try to get into a job in the government sector. A friend of mine recently quit her job to join as a clerk in the Revenue Accounting department wing of Secretariat. Some of them leave the IT industry and start their own businesses. Unlike the people with government jobs, most techies quit or resign from their job at the ‘young’ age of 40-45. In government jobs, one would work until he or she reaches the age of 60. If we closely look, maybe it is the pressure of an IT job that pushes the techie to excel and put in late hours that takes its toll. He would lead a poor family life, a discontented relation with his wife and kids, no time for his friends and himself and finally due to a lethargic or sedentary lifestyle where the treadmills and exercise cycle are merely used to dry his wet clothes on a rainy day, he succumbs to high levels in cholesterol, high blood pressure and many more.
If you take a stroll from the Park Centre in Technopark to the Gayathri near the front gate, you would not come across many people who would be over the age of 55. You would be able to count on your fingers and can be sure you needn’t use up all your 10 fingers for counting! Yet another reason why the IT industry does not have many people over the age of 55 could be that most of them who initially had a job in Technopark would now be either running their own businesses or they would be in government sectors where even after one retires, you would be able to get pension from the government. A pension for a senior citizen means a lot where he is able to still get a regular income and thus lead an independent secure life. The government has brought in different types of pensions like superannuation pension, voluntary pension, extraordinary pension and so on where everything simply comes with only the motive to help the individuals lead a standard hassle free life.
One wonders why is it then that a person who has been working in the IT industry from the tender age of 22 does not get all these benefits at his old age. Does he lack in qualification? Degree? Trainings ? No, he does not. He may have worked doubly hard than the average government official. He may have put in not just extra amount of hours in work but triple or maybe quadruple amount of hours in work compared to the government official. Then why is this happening ? Like the government employee who works for the benefit of the country, the techie too works. The techie works for his private company in his hometown so that when the private company reaps profit, the country too gets the profit in terms of tax, opening up of new firms, development of infrastructure and so on. The techie too pays his tax (maybe much more than the others in different industries), the techie too abides the rules put across by the country, he follows his right to vote and everything. Then why is it that when a techie gets old that he is not given a retiring pension or a family pension ? Imagine an ideal scenario where all people who pay their taxes to the government while they were able to work, gets a pension or a dearness allowance from the government when he or she becomes a senior citizen! It would be simply great and this would surely bring a smile to the faces of all those techies who puts in lots of effort to excel and perform well in the work that they do.
My friend, Harish, is planning to pursue his passion in films once he retires from his IT job. Another friend of mine is investing in fixed deposits that would take care of him and his family when he retires from his IT job. Similarly all techies starts planning soon after the age of 30 as to what they would do in another 10 years. Such is the unpredictability of their lives. I know a couple where both husband and wife were IT professionals working in Technopark and raising their children living in a posh flat in Jawaharnagar. Now the children have grown up and are married and working in US while the parents have returned to their roots . They are now settled at their ancestral home and both of them are involved in farming and agriculture. I as a software professional plan to start my own baking business or maybe I may travel around to different places in the world or visit my friends or maybe I would simply like to sit at home and cook for my husband and son. The options are many !
As in any industry, life after an IT job or after any job should be one of peace, happiness and contentedness where one should not be put to too much stress ( but techies sure would be able to handle that !) and chaos. When in other industries where one starts looking at the bigger picture (at the age of 55 )of where there life is shaping up to and at what they want to do when they retire, the techie starts contemplating on his retired life after the IT job at the tender age of 30.