How I got my Engineering Degree

I don't know how others received their Engineering degrees on graduation day. May be with lots of passion, with their eyes gleaming with dreams, some great ideas to make the world a better place. Do you want to know how I got my degree? With FEAR. Yes you read it correct. With the dreadful fear of my future and what am I going to do with this certificate without any knowledge on the subject. What you are going to read is my story on how I got my degree.

If you are born in India and if you are from a middle-class-dreaming-to-become-upper class family, then, I am very sure that you will be pursuing Engineering as your career, even if you do not know what it is or, more worse, if you do not like it all. All our parents aspire us to become that multi talented kid who gets a job before even he completes his education. Not to blame them, they have been brainwashed in such a way by all the advertisements bestowed upon them. But the real situation is far from the actual.

I, like many of the aspiring middle class Indians, was put in an Engineering college after my not-so-bad school performance. Nobody asked me if I wanted to join the course. Did I like Engineering? Or, to put in simpler terms if I had any idea what will I become after completing my studies. No. I was merely put in the college after going through the ritual of board exams and entrance exams (Yes! I did write that).

I had no idea what I was learning in my first year of college because it had pretty much the same subjects I had grown up with. I can manage Physics, Chemistry and even Mathematics to some extent. I was saved. But after the first semester, things got a little out of hand if you ask me, with different names for subjects (which I do not even remember now, not even two) and new terminologies. To my big relief, there were many people like me in the class, who had no clue about what was happening around.

By the second year, I, somewhat understood the knack of the education system, like, how by preparing just three units by heart is more than enough to score above 70 percent, about local authors' books which are much more understandable to my limited brain capacity than the "bada bada" foreign authors' books which will cost you a fortune, how to resell the used books among the juniors, etc. Understanding simple things like this helped me to keep afloat in the above average category of my class.

When third year approached, I had risen to levels where I guided the meekly juniors with my expertise. But to add to the horror, there was the threat of on-campus-placements round the corner and I had not given much thought about it. Once the cat was out of the sack, I could see all the third years rushing to the college library in search of R.S Agarwal books for aptitude preparations. I did too. But to my bad luck, all the books were taken and there was a waiting list. So, I decided to buy them for greater goods. Once I had the books with me, I started preparing apti (Aptitude Questions are called simply that). Preparing includes: me reading the problem, trying to work it out on my own without referring the methods given, finally after an hour of scribbling on the corners of the paper I would wonder how the hell I got 246 when the answer showed just a plain 8. The next half an hour will be spent on understanding the method explained in the book and finally would have cracked the problem (with the help of the answer of course). Then, with whatever hope I had left, I would have started with the second problem which would sound something like "Mary likes Popsicle. Popsicles are red in color. Now calculate the distance of the moon with the latitudinal distance from Earth." You got what I mean. That was how bad I prepared the aptitude questions.

Then, came the fearful final year, with all the promises of future jobs and higher studies. I had no option for higher studies as my family solely had invested (yes I was their investment) in my education and were eager to send me off to work if I got any. Until the interviews approached, I had not thought about another issue. This may sound stupid, but obviously there was the issue. I cannot speak English fluently. I know! I know! After all the English medium education I had for more than 13+ years, I, like many of my classmates, was not a fluent English speaker. In a society where fluency in speaking English is measured as your intelligence, I could not converse without any grammatical mistakes for more than 2 minutes combined. You may wonder how I passed all my semester examinations with this demerit. Please understand that, in India, writing English is something different than speaking the language.
So, you want to know how I coped with this? I had all my interview conversations neatly typed out,(right from "May I come in sir" to "Thank you Sir. Have a nice day") and learnt them by heart. It may sound stupid, but believe me it was worth the trouble. I had all the expected questions and my appropriate answers for them in a print out form, which I carried to most of my interviews (I had many). On the dreadful day of the on campus interview, I was selected in aptitude (miraculously!) and even convinced the HR that I am a great asset to their company. Mostly the questions were from my printed syllabus (my Q&A) and even when the questions strayed off, I pretty much repeated my typed out answers in a practiced tone.

I had my job. Yes. Even, I could not believe it quite for some days. It was truly an amazing feeling when you walk in the campus with your head held high. It sounded awesome when people point out you in the library or in the cafeteria, saying sweet things like, "Look at her! she is the one! she must be brilliant! Didn't she crack the interview the very first day" Like all the good things are not supposed to long last, my so called happiness was short lived. It was just a few weeks before the end of the semester when I received a letter (actually a mail and a letter) saying that due to recession (it was way back in 2009) my recruitment with the company was void (which means I do not have a job) and I am free to pursue my career with some best wishes. I don't even remember how I survived the forthcoming exams but I did clear them.

There I was, completing my four years of professional education without any job offering. The only company which came for hiring and which had selected me had sent this heart breaking letter (mail!). On the day of receiving my degree I was standing with just the certificate which said that herewith I am a professional with No job, No choice of higher studies, Not much knowledgeable on the subject, Not very good in aptitude either. That is a lot of No's.

Now, after a good 10 years, when I sit back and think about my career and education, apart from some not-so-good experiences I do have a wonderful job now which I love. Had someone asked me the simple question "Did I wanted to do what I was doing?" my life would have been different. May be it would have be difficult but at least I would have loved the hardships and would have taken them as challenges.
And do you know I even have vowed to preach my child one simple thing in life. "Do whatever you want which pleases you and never others. You will not regret it later"

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Author: Vandana15 Jan 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 2

This is, to put it simply, a brilliant piece of writing, laced with angst and humour. It charmingly brings out the situation that most teenagers face, getting pushed into an educational stream of their parent's choice, not getting the opportunity to sail out on their own, then getting bogged into taking up a job that does not remotely interest them. Freedom to select one's academic path & later career is often considered to be rebellious. It is time this attitude changes.

Author: Aruna Kathirvel16 Jan 2017 Member Level: Silver   Points : 0

Thank you Vandana. It means a lot to me, as this was my first article.

Guest Author: Ramya16 Jan 2017

True portrayal of engineering studies. Very well written Aruna.

Guest Author: Guru Siva Kumar T K16 Jan 2017

Nicely presented Aruna Kathirvel. Students must be given the option of choosing his/her career. And I strongly believe, none has the right to force any student on choosing his career, be the parents, elder sibling, educated uncle, neighbour IT professional, none except the student himself. The practicality of today's engineering has been portrayed in the article. It's difficult to comment for any improvements in the article. Unless you disclose that this is your first article, none of the readers would be able to spot it Aruna. Kudos to you. Awaiting a lot more in the future too.

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