IntroductionSome seven years ago, this author had been to Salem to conduct a Personality Development Program in an Arts and Science College. Salem is a well-developed city, some one hundred and sixty kilometers from Coimbatore, the second largest city of Tamil Nadu. This author was taken to an organic vegetarian restaurant near the Salem bus stand that is always busy for all 24 hours. The third-year student of the same college worked for a fixed salary and perks that included a cut on business generated by him, through word of mouth. The dishes were costly, but the ambiance was really good. The owner was an enterprising individual who was hardly 35 years old. He was open to suggestions and wanted to try out as many new items as possible.
This young student was already gathering lessons in customer relationship management. He encouraged small children to take photographs of the interiors and also gave away small chocolates to keep them happy. He would run around seven tables helping the guests taste the various dishes. Nothing was prepared in advance. A welcome drink and some good conversation with the guests to keep them engaged till the orders arrived, did the trick.
The art of gathering vital experience for career and personality development would involve a) Taking up part-time jobs or free internships in companies b) Taking up any job in the chosen field c) Updating skill-sets through voluntary work d) Networking with professionals on weekends and e) Looking forward to greater challenges any day, any time.
Taking up part-time jobs or free internships in companies This is a true story of a boy who is now a Manager (Finance) in a leading MNC of Chennai. Hailing from a poor family in Paramakudi (this small town is the birthplace of the famous actor Kamal Hassan), the boy had come to Madurai with only a 12th standard qualification. He took up a job in a small hotel and learned all aspects of operations. The lodge attached to the hotel also gave him useful lessons. He did his B.Com through correspondence from the Annamalai University. Since he had also handled accounts and banking transactions of the hotel( the owner was always impressed with his dedication and honesty), with his degree, he was made the Manager, controlling various aspect of both the hotel and the lodge. The owner's daughter got married to an industrialist from New Delhi. The son-in-law took him to New Delhi where he learned Hindi in no time. He also did the ICWA course, as he was supported all the way by the industrialist who gave him several responsibilities in his factory. He also made him stay in his own house and also gave him free food. Within four years, the young man got a job with a leading private sector group of Chennai and then shifted to the MNC as Manager.
What happened? According to the experience, as narrated by the young man, he just made useful inroads into learning in a big way. He had the habit of noting down every small bit of learning in his diary. Since the industrialist was so happy with him, he was able to grow fast too. The moral of the story is to accept even a simple job and then work one's way through it. It is a pity that young men prefer to remain unemployed, rather than take-up BPO jobs that are available aplenty in all big cities. There are so many other functional jobs available but the graduates would rather wait to get jobs with a minimum salary that is totally disproportionate to their skill-sets. While doing do, the concerned individuals actually lose out on the value of vital experience can make a big difference to their careers.
Taking up any job in the chosen field Since he had a background in commerce in his plus two-stage, the aforesaid young man stuck to learning everything about finance. Of course, he was also able to learn many things in the first experience and later in the factory. Such changes may or may not come to anyone. However, small jobs are always available. Even in trading, there are jobs in accounting.
It is possible to succeed in life only with experience. The depth of experience is also important. If one gathers just the same experience over a period of several years, he will become a misfit. For example, if one is stuck in mere training roles in HR, his or her career will be limited only to training activities. This should never happen. A variety of experiences are called for any point in time.
Updating skill-sets through voluntary work Silent work to deepen ponds is going on in parts of Chennai and Coimbatore cities by several volunteer groups. Those who volunteer to work in groups gather vital experience in team building. They also learn empathy and the art of giving back to society. They learn the art of networking among themselves for scarce resources and tapping the right sources for funding to overtake basic activities.
Similarly, in the best of Corporate organizations, those who gather experience in preparing powerpoint presentations, observing and documenting shop floor practices, taking part in quality circles and so on, become far better skilled with good personalities. Such qualities often help them to get good MNC jobs in operations.
Networking with professionals on weekendsThose in the IT profession never take it easy. They are on to do something on their own. For at least thirty weekends, three IT professionals would go to the villages near Tindivanam and work with the farmers there. They learned the nuances of organic farming and took the advice of professionals trained by the noted environmentalist Namvazvar. Once they were confident that they could strike out on their own, they resigned their jobs. All three were in their late thirties. Their working wives supported them all the way. They purchased lands near Tiruchirapalli ( around twenty kilometers from this city) and started to grow vegetables. They had enough offers to supply fresh farm produce from many BHEL employees who stayed at Srirangam ( a suburb of Trichi) and through their contacts, a number of gated communities. The vegetables also reached markets some sixty kilometers away. All three former IT employees now earn around 75% of their previous income, but this income is non-taxable. Their wives help them on the weekends. The risk was worth taking. Those who are just 42 years old have been axed from a famous IT company of Chennai, where two of the three employees were previously employed. These professionals are not alone. Many IT employees are now venturing out on their own.
Looking forward to greater challenges any day, any time.When one goes through the nitty-gritty of each of the aforesaid true experiences, it will be noticed that they had the will to succeed and do a good deal of hard work. Nothing comes without hard work. The greater challenges should always be accepted. Had it not been the hard work of the IT professionals on thirty weekends, the concerned people would not have become successful entrepreneurs. The trick is to learn from each experience and then work one's way up the ladder. By doing so, the individual's personality would have so many good and positive aspects. He or she would have known tolerance, the spirit of accommodating and accepting people as they are, learning new languages like Hindi and so on. The aforesaid real-world experiences have been mentioned, only because of the people involved. They are now well known to this author.
They are of course, not alone. There are so many experiences of people who have made it big, even in the worst of circumstances. Experience is a good or even great teacher. This is one fact of life that one has to understand.
ConclusionNot everyone gets to study in the IITs and the IIMs. Most of us do not have rich backgrounds. Most of us are from middle-class families where a high standard of living is just not possible. However, if we understand the true value of experience and what it can teach us, our personality development will be complete and we will be prepared to take on fresh challenges at any time. The tough times like a slowdown or a recession may not affect us at all.