Saturday, March 6, 2010

College days

Hi Guys,

Thought everyone should read this. I realised this only late in Amrita and more so after coming here. I still have couple of years of college left, so trying to make full use of it. (via karthik)


...are we stuck in High School?

I had two brushes with higher education this week.

The first was at a speech I gave in New York. There were several Harvard Business School students there, invited because of their interest in marketing and exceptional promise (that's what I was told... I think they came because they had heard that Maury Rubin would make a great lunch!).

Anyway, they asked for my advice in finding marketing jobs. When I shared my views (go to a small company, work for the CEO, get a job where you actually get to make mistakes and do something) one woman professed to agree with me, but then explained, "But those companies don't interview on campus."

Those companies don't interview on campus. Hmmm. She has just spent $100,000 in cash and another $150,000 in opportunity cost to get an MBA, but...

The second occurred today at Yale. As I drove through the amazingly beautiful campus, I passed the center for Asian Studies. It reminded me of my days as an undergrad (at a lesser school, natch), browsing through the catalog, realizing I could learn whatever I wanted. That not only could I take classes but I could start a business, organize a protest movement, live in a garret off campus, whatever. It was a tremendous gift, this ability to choose.

Yet most of my classmates refused to choose. Instead, they treated college like an extension of high school. They took the most mainstream courses, did the minimum amount they needed to get an A, tried not to get into "trouble" with the professor or face the uncertainty of the unknowable. They were the ones who spent six hours a day in the library, reading their textbooks.

The best part of college is that you could become whatever you wanted to become, but most people just do what they think they must.

Is this a metaphor? Sure. But it's a worthwhile one. You have more freedom at work than you think (hey, you're reading this on company time!) but most people do nothing with that freedom but try to get an A.

Do you work with people who are still in high school? Job seekers only willing to interview with the folks who come on campus? Executives who are trying to make their boss happy above all else? It's pretty clear that the thing that's wrong with this system is high school, not the rest of the world.

Cut class. Take a seminar on french literature. Interview off campus. Safe is risky.


Anonymous said...

im reminded of the speech given by Steve Jobs .......... but let me ask you,
how many of us are willing to come out of these shackles that sort of inhibit us from getting to what
we really want to ........ in the indian scenario its like we kinda know that we aim for this or that in life ........ but in
the end we go for whats in demand .. is that whay we have a lot of bschool grads from engineering backgrounds ?
coz they think an mba fetches them better prospects in life ?........ ive spoke to a family friend of mine
who told me what an mba can do ... in his words

" after engineering, go for an mba ....... when u start work in a company with ur bachelors degree, u start as a graduate
trainee then u get promoted and it would take about 8 - 10 yrs time to get to a senior post .......... mba is sort of a shortcut
to get u there in 2yrs time ! "

good to know ur scaling heights

take care

Vishnuvardhanan Vijayakumar said...


"bschool grads from engineering backgrounds ?" - To be fair, we need only a few innovative engineers but a truck load of administrative folks to run a business. There are exceptions in few technology sectors but by and large it is the case. So it makes sense to have business background (provided if a person is inclined towards administration or if he / she has no interest in any particular thing).

Also, B-School is fun. That is why few people I know of wanted to get into it. Perhaps use the knowledge to do whatever they want to do. B-School kind of provides a different perspective and that is really useful.

That apart, there are a lot of exciting things going on in India. I was in India for a month... and what struck me was the entrepreneurial energy and support structure for entrepreneurs. I got to hear about interesting technologies developed in India and meet 'up and coming' entrepreneurs. Infact couple of my school friends have switched sides and developing exciting ventures. Yes, these are just few success stories, but things are becoming better in India.

My examples are mostly from south India, since i kind of know more abt the place. For eg- Coimbatore grew only because of entrepreneurs. Some of the biggest firms in CBE like LMW, CRI, Premier Polytronics, Pricol, PSG etc... and by last count there are 28 such industries based in CBE and all of them are 100 crore + industries developed by people mostly from humble background. Things were better in India and it is getting even better.