(Last week, my daughter set out to another city for internship with a leading company as part of her college course. This marks her first real exposure to corporate culture. On the occasion, I wanted to write a letter to her with responsible parental advice on career and life. But quickly realised 1) she was, like any daughter/son, not going to listen to anything what parents say 2) I don’t know how to be a responsible parent in the first place. Which, of course, is a good excuse to pen this.)
I am delighted that this week you would have had a first-hand experience of how the corporate world operates, and I wish I was at hand to see the expression on your face as you go about trying to put to use what you learned at college and getting to understand that professional life is mighty difficult, especially because nothing you were taught in the classroom is actually of any use in real-life.
The beauty of the curriculum that we elders have created for you youngsters is that you need not remember anything you learn in college. But no need to thank us. We are only passing the legacy of our elders.
After this experience in the corporate world will you take your remaining semesters seriously? I briefly worried myself with this question. But I took courage from the fact that you, even before this, never approached your college education with any amount of seriousness. So there is bound to be no change in your approach, except that when I tell you to study, you will not sulk any more but laugh loudly at my face!
Here I must warn you that you should not come to any firm conclusion on corporate life based on what you come across during your internship. It is akin to believing that a film will be nice just because its trailer seems very good. Why I tell you this is you should not commit the mistake that I did. I thought, going by its trailer, Vivegam will be decent, despite the overwhelming evidence that it featured Ajith. And the point is corporate career is essentially an Ajith film — lot of hype and hope revolves around it, but little of anything to feel really satisfied.
Anyway, when you get into a full-fledged job in a company, you will understand that the skill you need is the exactly one that you show in your resume: the ability to confidently say very big things without conveying anything.
In your resume, most of you will write in a box boldly marked as: “Goal — To work in a company that will actualize my creative ability and my potential to think out of the box and also challenge me to get out of my comfort zone and work as part of a diverse team without losing my individual focus or talent, which is to remain enthusiastic and sincere even in the face of mounting odds maintaining my competitive zeal, even while not giving up my passion to be the voice of the underdog.”
Basically, you will be saying that you are Mother Teresa, Mithali Raj and Kalpana Chawla rolled into one. But luckily for you no one in any office actually reads any resume. Even if you shove in several paragraphs from Fifty Shades of Grey it will not be noticed.
But if you can come up with seemingly weighty sentences that do not contain even one meaningful idea often then, take it from me, you are set for a long career in the corporate world. It is a skill that will see you through many meetings. Talking of which, meetings are to offices what canteen is to college — it is where you will find yourself almost all the time.
But luckily for you there is no big difference between canteen and office meetings. Both is about a group of people gathered over tea and small eats with the discussion just as pointless and meandering. So in that sense, what you do in college will indeed stand you in good stead later in your career.
Once you are done with your college education you may wonder what kind of job to get into. My advice to, not just you, but any youngster is: Never take a job that involves wearing a tie to work on a daily basis. You will end up hating yourself.
On the other hand, the best jobs in the world does not involve a formal dress code. For instance, if you walk into the country’s Vice-President office you will find him in his sleeping pyjamas. That is why they never let any outsiders into his office.
So, dear daughter, the letter has got more lengthy than I had intended to. But I hope you find these ‘pearls of wisdom’ useful and if you still have any questions on this, please do call me, I will be in my office only attending, what else, a meeting.