I joined the corporate world almost eight and a half years ago, right after college. Yes sir, I was one of those lucky ones who finished exams on one day and had to report to work the day after. A year before my final exams, I was placed in one of the biggest companies in the world and my family and I were delighted. Writing as a passion and a part time job, came years later. Back in college, let me correct myself, back in an Engineering college the only goal I had was to secure a job before I was done with my graduation. It was accomplished without much of a difficulty and a year later I was on a train to Chennai with my parents as my joining location was Chennai. Since this post is not about my struggle in that God-forsaken city, I will not bore you with the details. The first day was the induction that was held in a five star hotel and I walked into the corporate office the next day.
Of course we were a batch and stuck together in groups. Since we were new and apprehensive about everything around, people looked at us like we were aliens. When you are fresh meat, there is a certain fear in the air. When you are given your first laptop, you touch it like it fell in right from heaven. The huge workplace amazes you and everything around feels like royalty. Right from the coffee vending machine to the spacious restrooms. You continue to address your trainers and seniors as "Sir" and "Ma'am" no matter how much they reprimand you. Of course it does take time to get off the campus behavior.
The first ever "corporate" thing that you would do is send out a professional e-mail. And what a nightmare that is! No matter how good your language or vocabulary is, something always goes wrong with it. Since I work in a really huge corporation, there are a lot of people with the same name across the organization. When I had to send my first ever mail, I saw around six people with the same name. By the time I checked with people and figured out who the concerned person is, it was more than an hour. Some seniors would be assigned to train you and they will end up ragging you, judging you or asking you out. As freshers you would be eager to please them and look at them like they are the owners of the company and can do no wrong.
Then begins the work bit. Everything is taken so literally and you stick to the timings of the company. Or perhaps come in earlier and leave late too. There is an innate need to make an impression and get noticed. Yeah, just like college. You go through a million documents to understand everything you can about the project but end up knowing zilch. You only learn when you start working hands-on on something. Until then it is all a faint cloud hovering above your head. Once you get used to the grind and are a part of a few releases, the fresh meat is considered cooked and you will begin to be more confident and efficient. Then you start to look forward to the arrival of next batch of fresh meat. This is a vicious circle that always comes around.
Today as I interview candidates, I'm surprised at the level of confidence and surety they come with. Well, most of them at least. Fresh meat no longer is juvenile that you can make anything out of it. Freshers these days are aware of what they want to work on and are not as confused as what we are. Maybe this is what they call the generation gap. Well, there a few lost lambs here and there, but they are the minority. Maybe they are trained better in their colleges or have worked on themselves really well. Of course the drill of freshly ironed formals, shiny shoes and ID card firmly in place continues, but they no longer are lost and this is something refreshing to see. Especially when I have traversed the journey from fresh meat to the over cooked one myself.
I think that as a senior we need to try to make our juniors more comfortable. While some of the seniors only focus on transferring their work load to the tender minds, they fail to understand that they are new to the environment as well as to handling pressure. Most people tend to follow the rule, "I did not get any help, why should I help others". I have seen this happen so many times over the years that my heart goes out to the new people. I have faced this umpteen times as a fresher and as I moved from one project to another. I believe it is important to share your knowledge. After all the new people are only going to help you out later. The sooner they know things, the easier it is for you. Some people take advantage of their senior positions and look down upon them. They expect to rule for as long as they are around. Such people do not get anywhere. When someone is starting something from scratch, it is important for them to get all the help they need.
The next time you spot someone wearing neatly ironed formals and clutching their ID card hard, do not make fun of them. Instead, ask them how you can make their transition from campus to corporate easier.