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Old 3rd July 2020, 16:08   #31
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Default Re: Retrospecting: Things I wish I knew in school & college

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Originally Posted by TheHelix0202 View Post
It puts me in a pretty pickle that I quite don’t fit into either category...or do I? I’ve graduated from 12th this year, but don’t know what to do next. To follow the line of least resistance here on, would be to do as per the wishes of ‘the Providers’ at home, and live a life of mediocrity and resent. To rebel, however, would be tragic in its own right. Hmm, confusing times...
Do you know what you don't want to do? That's a great beginning. After you eliminate that, start sorting the remaining ideas based on whatever filters that work for you. You may not be as lost as you think you are. Remember we don't know what we want to do. We discover it. We go through a series of things and gradually identify what we really want.


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Old 3rd July 2020, 17:15   #32
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Default Re: Retrospecting: Things I wish I knew in school & college

Wow, I am overwhelmed with the responses here. Frankly when I finished writing it, I thought barely anyone would read so much, but I am glad its reached many of you. Thank you for all your honest comments. So many of you have shared your personal stories and it is extremely inspiring. My whole intent here is to try and give some glimpse to the students of what the real world out there is like. What would be expected out of them and what they can do NOW to be in a better position when they step in their work place or place of further education.

Some extremely important points that I could gather which were not part of my list are:
1. Managing Money. Takes a month to earn & an OTP to spend.
2. Choice of friends. Understand who really supports you and who is trying to pull you down.
3. Fall, but bounce back. There will be failures, bullies & betrayals. Accept it, learn from it and move ahead.

My intent was to take inputs and then create content for a small Face to Face talk which I plan to do in schools and colleges wherever I am allowed. Even if 1% out of those students think through and inculcate habits and behaviors that are mentioned in this thread, I think it would serve the purpose.

Once again, Thank you from all my heart for the candid, honest and inspiring replies. No doubt our forums URL feels HOME.

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Old 3rd July 2020, 19:19   #33
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Default Re: Retrospecting: Things I wish I knew in school & college

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Form an idealised version of yourself in your mind, let him be what you wish to be, and make him your best friend. Make him the one you go for advice to, talk to him, spend time with him, debate with him.
+1

I studied/worked with some nice people but never found a person/mentor to seek advice for all my issues and problems. I had to do this self debate a lot to decide on many things.

Looks like failure hit me bit early comparing others. I failed in 8th grade exam (scored single digit mark in English) but my total score was just 3-4 marks less than the batch topper. My TBHP signature says about my general life approach from this point on.

Know your limitations, stay humble, help people in need, and respect others.

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Old 3rd July 2020, 22:34   #34
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Default Re: Retrospecting: Things I wish I knew in school & college

Thank you OP for this thread. This is something I keep pondering every now and then. For the most part, due to gods grace I am doing OK despite some set backs. Here is what I wish I would have known during my college days.

1) The best time to add value to oneself is during College: I have been fortunate enough to finish in the top 1 percentile of my attempts, be it graduation in Engineering in a good reputed college and my masters in an even better one. I had always done well academically by which I mean marks , grades, ranks etc. I wish I would have learnt stuff solely for the sake of learning and pushed myself to be the best version of myself. I was working on computer vision algorithms and mobile robots in my major project long long before they were considered cool, however I became complacent after I got placed in a top bank and did not do justice to the problem at hand. Now 12 years later, the very algorithms and experiments that I was exploring when they were research papers are now called cutting edge and During my 10 - 12 hr slogs at office, I wish I knew the value to be gained by doing the same in college working on intellectual problems of my choice. As they say , water under the bridge and I am still playing catch up.

2) Learned how the world really functioned: I was working 16 hrs a day , balancing work and what ever life I could manage, when I was rudely pushed into personal , legal and police hassles. I was naive and suffered quite a bit. in hindsight I feel could have avoided so much pain , if I was smarter about how the world really functioned.

3) Exposed to life changing literature at an earlier age : I have always been an avid reader making use of whatever opportunities growing up in a second tier town offered. Some ground breaking literature for example , works of Ayn Rand ( I know there are hard core supporters as well as detractors of her, but to each his own) I came across post my college and felt this could have shaped my life differently vs reading Issac Asimov stuff.

Overall I understand no ones life is exactly what they envision it to be, leave alone what they want it to be in hind sight. But these are few specific things that come to my mind.
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Old 3rd July 2020, 23:29   #35
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Thank you for the great points and a inspiring thread.
VLOOKUP is one of those things which i wanted to learn but never got to it.
Now i just dd it. Thanks to a great post.
For people who want to learn, i found this to be best :

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Old 4th July 2020, 07:31   #36
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Default Re: Retrospecting: Things I wish I knew in school & college

@dieselritzer a great thread to start.

Managing Money is something which should he taught in schools in a fun away. My parents have been simple people who didn’t know about this subject so never taught us. I learnt it on my own much much later in life and realised how Many years I have lost (not to mention India’s economic growth from the end of 90s till recently). Money needs time as strong multiplier.

Most of your ‘friends’ Will not help you in your work area. They are good to go out for dinner, laugh, hang around, but when it comes to endorsing your business or product, no. Some will, but most will not. And it’s fine I guess.

You must also do internships very early on in the areas of your chosen interest before you immerse yourself fully in it. This also means spending time if possible in the city of hot action.

You should have a small backup plan, a Plan B. For many people it’s counter intuitive. And it’s probably debatable. But it’s an essential life skill.
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Old 4th July 2020, 09:52   #37
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What a nice thread @Dieselritzer. However, would like to highlight some lessons I have learnt from my job in construction industry.

Learn building relationships managing peolpe- Read books, learn from a mentor, watch videos, etc. Most of a person's working time is spent, at least in my industry, is spent having disscussions, supervision or data sharing.

Hobbies- Always have a hobby. It may boost you morale in dire times. Always remeber that bad times will pass.

Expansive knowledge- It is necessary to be an expert in particular skill/subject. However, assimilate both theorotical and practical knowledge on other aspects of your field. For example, on a construction site, everyone from a civil supervisor to MEP engineer will come to solve their queries. By this I mean not to wait till you get a different hand-on experience but to learn technical side by studying.
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Old 4th July 2020, 17:49   #38
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Default Re: Retrospecting: Things I wish I knew in school & college

A few personal points I wish to add. I wish I knew:

1. To be nicer to my teachers. I was very harsh, rude and out right a pain for all our teachers. Got kicked out in 10th, inter and college. If it wasn't for my mother I wouldn't even have got a degree. But this turned out to be blessing for me. Since I was never going to get hired I had to start my own company and we are right now one of the top 100 sellers on amazon.

2. To not be a bully, maintain gangs and harass fellow students. Except for the folks in our gang everyone hated me. Of course we are all close friends now and laugh at those days.

3. To not take silly things like cricket matches and bike races so seriously.

4. To have not been so hard on my father regarding buying me a CBZ. He had to run every where because we could not afford one at that time.

But seriously, what our schools and colleges never teach is personality development. How to handle one self. Not just studies, over all character development is very important. Creativity, imagination, spirituality and proper channelizing of the students intelligence and intellect is very important.
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Old 5th July 2020, 18:25   #39
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Before I write about the intent of this thread let me give a small background about myself...Thank you for reading.
Thanks for starting this thread. It's about time someone did.

I was a university topper in college who went on to get two Masters degrees entirely on merit. And yet, this is what I will tell my kids when they are old enough to understand.


About Education & Career -
  • Setting aside the IITs** and IIMs**, big investments in education are a gigantic waste of time. This is especially true for post graduate education. In fact, formal post graduate education is a giant waste of time. No one values it because it has no economic value really. So, do not waste any time getting advanced degrees unless you have an insatiable curiosity in the subject matter.

  • Actually, even a prolonged undergraduate degree is pretty much a clunker. Totally unnecessary. I know lots of people who come from very modest backgrounds and successfully built a sizable nest egg for themselves. The one thing they all have in common is that they did not waste any time in education. While they are not uneducated, they haven't invested a lot in education. Just the bare minimum. Here is how it works -
    After a basic degree in commerce or the arts, they went to NIIT or Aptech and then started work in IT or in BPO by the time they were 21 or 22. Today, each of them is sitting on a corpus of at least 2 to 3 crores; and no one asks them their qualifications to compare their pedigree to IITians. In fact, some of them are senior VPs and CIOs in companies; all this without an MBA which is considered a Holy Grail for executive management roles.
  • I have come to the conclusion that education should be treated like trade school in the US, like for say plumbers or electricians or mechanics. Pick and choose short courses that teach you the exact skill that you need to do a job to earn money. That is all you need. Broad-based knowledge of the world is all well and good. But, the economy won't compensate you for being a well-rounded individual.

  • Start work as early as possible and focus on making money. Do not waste a single day, or week, or month, or God forbid an year, in frivolous things like advanced degrees or in flights of fancy titled "let-me-enjoy-now-before-the-rate-race". The rat race is much maligned for all the wrong reasons. People use terms like the rat race to casually disrespect and dismiss money while simultaneously craving it, and while envying those who have it. Remember that if you do not value money, money will not value you.

  • If you are one of those self-actuated people fortunate enough to find their calling, then more power to you. In which case, you must pursue your passion with single-mindedness. If your calling is in the performing arts or sports, then you should start early and give yourself 15 years (or even 20 years) for a realistic chance of success.

  • In the event that you are not sure about what you want to do, then finish a basic degree in some broad-based subject like economics or commerce and then do one of two things -
    a.) Take the plunge into entrepreneurship. Just sell something. The start could be menial. But, it is important to start early. That way, you have enough time to fail and recover and do it all over again. Entrepreneurship isn't some magic carpet that will take you to the land of plenty. But, the one real skill that I want you to have is the ability to survive and thrive in constant uncertainty. To be able to keep your head, and your heart, without knowing where the next day's meal is going to come from; that is the only real skill that matters in the long run. And only entrepreneurship will train you in that area.

    b.) Give the UPSC exams or the NDA exams and work for either the government or the defense services. I say this not beause I think that working for the government is secure. Sure, there is more security in government jobs. But, that is not the end of it. Truth is that there is great honor is service. And service of any impact happens only through work in government. Because only government gives you the power that will increase the surface area of impact of your work in order to bring about true change. By contrast, private sector employment has no real sphere of influence.

Some general life points -
  • It is a giant myth that hard work + right direction = success. Working hard could help you succeed. But, not everyone who works hard actually succeeds.

  • It is an equally giant myth that not working hard = failure. The world is full of people who are consistently fortunate to reap high rewards that are disproportionate to their efforts.
    If I had a dime for every hard working and talented person that I have met who seems to never catch a break, I would be a very rich man today. Conversely, I dare say that many of us have seen absolute losers in very rewarding positions in life. I am talking about professionals who are either incompetent, or lazy, or both. In fact, I would wager that at least some of us have met at least one person who would brazenly rub everyone's noses with their lack of effort. Not only do these people hang on to their jobs; they actually thrive and prosper.
  • The truth is that there is no real explanation for success, or failure, or prosperity, or tragedy. No one in the world, including the smartest people, has any real clue as to why things happen the way they do.

  • IQ is mostly useless. What is important is EQ and AQ. If you have high levels of EQ, you would be more successful in getting people to do what you need done. In the end, that is the only thing that matters. Some people will state the same thing in more palatable terms such as -
    "Having good EQ will make you a good collaborator and this will make you successful because you will be able to enable others' success"
    That is a laudable sentiment. But, at best, it's sugarcoating the truth. Most people do not care about enabling others' successes. So, if you are honest with yourself, you will realize that you mostly care about your goals only. And the fastest way to achieving your goals is to get other people to help you in achieving them. And the fastest way to do that is through a high EQ.

Bottom line -
  • Be honest with yourself. This is the biggest favor that you can do for yourself.

  • Take care of your health first.

  • Put family first.

  • Learn to code. It's a good thing.

  • Aside from some key skills like coding, you don't need big degrees. Formal education is totally overrated. Experience is king. It is always better to get paid to learn rather than to pay to learn. Also, the learning that comes through experience sticks; because you actually have skin in the game.

  • If you clearly know what you want to do, then you are one of the luckiest people in the world. In which case, start early. If you are such a person, I won't tell you not to lose hope and not to quit during tough times because I don't have to. If you are someone with a clear calling, you simply will not quit. That's the beauty of clarity.

  • If you don't know what you wish to do, congratulations, you are part of the 99%. In which case, please get down to the business of understanding the value of money as soon as you can. Money is not everything. But, the lack of money is absolutely everything. The sooner you realize this, the further you will go.

  • If it is possible for you to do so, never ever, and I do mean NEVER EVER, work in the private sector as an employee.

P.S.

**Even this does not apply to all IITs and IIMs. Only to a select few of them. I am not from these institutes. But, if you manage to get into them you have a high likelihood of surviving and prospering in your career. The brand value of esteemed Indian institutions in India is far greater than the brand value of global institutions around the world (and certainly in India). Case in point, people will instantly accord you respect bordering on reverence if you tell them that you are from IIT or IIM. But, reactions will be far more dilute if you were to tell that you are a Harvard graduate. This is the absolute truth.

Cheers

Last edited by Aditya : 5th July 2020 at 23:00. Reason: As requested, typo
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Old 5th July 2020, 19:06   #40
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Case in point, people will instantly accord you respect bordering on reverence if you tell them that you are from IIT or IIM. But, reactions will be far more dilute if you were to tell that you are a Harvard graduate. This is the absolute truth.
I don't want to go about offending people's sentiments and preferences over here, but when you wrote absolute truth, I hope you meant your-absolute-truth.

The amount of effort it takes to get into Harvard is something no IIM guy would have to face, their first emphasis is on work-experience, they grill you and grill you more on what kind of work you did, what you achieved, what you hope to get out of the MBA degree, what you can bring to the mix of graduates to the admission season etc. They typically select very polished, very well spoken, very self-aware and ambitious candidates.. no unpolished diamonds there at all. Suffice to say that if you put a Harvard MBA guy and an IIM guy in an interview scenario, its almost certain that the Harvard guy will demolish the IIM guy in every way possible. IIT and IIM are single-dimensional institutions with the same Indian approach to book-learning and rote, with a little industry exposure and adjunct faculty who are at best, average.

Harvard batches are very, very well planned, you typically have people from many countries, on average China, Latin America (Spain, Portugal), India, Europe (mainly England, France & Germany), Australia etc, the East Asian students have gone up substantially since fall batch of '11. Their students also come from a variety of backgrounds, be it a rugby captain of a national team, a paraplegic veteran, an entrepreneur, a dramatist, etc, aside from the usual business and engineering graduates, and they play off each others strengths, philosophies and life experiences.

In any case its pointless to even compare the two, Harvard is not only older, its the father of all business education, their marketing care studies are used world-wide, they founded the system of case-study. Its a tie between three institutes for MBA depending on the specialization you want to take, if its finance/operations its MIT-Sloan, marketing is obviously, Harvard, and if its tech then Stanford (as far as I know).

I was in the recruiting business for a brief period of time, in which we dealt only with recruiting people in higher/highest positions, it was an understanding that while we can hope to ask questions to the IIM folk, and even interview them to look if they'd fit in, one cannot do that with Harvard/MIT/Stanford people, they know their own value so all we can do is talk salary. Many of my MENSA peers are graduates of Harvard, I can see a huge difference, plain and simple. They carry much more experience from peer learning, are comfortable having very fluent and gentle conversations, are typically to the point and surgical in their communication where the country-grown graduates drone on and on about things etc.

I'm not associated with either, but this comes from my experience and meeting graduates of both institutions and also having been loosely associated with the entrepreneurship cell of IIM. Harvard case studies were the only thing of value I learnt in marketing, we need to give credit to the original, IIM's and IIT's are spin-offs.

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Old 5th July 2020, 19:13   #41
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I don't want to go about offending people's sentiments and preferences over here, but when you wrote absolute truth, I hope you meant your-absolute-truth...
Sir,

I did not mean to offend you. I actually happen to agree with everything you have said. But, your view point has come through your experience which is quite deliberate and studied. But, out there, the vast majority of Indians respect IIT and IIM only. That is not my view. I am simply stating what I have observed. That's all.

For what it is worth, I have met IIT and IIM guys who I think are brilliant people and amazing human beings. I have also met an equal number of IIT and IIM guys that make me wonder how such a person got past the entrance obstacles. So, in no way am I starry-eyed of the IITs and IIMs.

Cheers
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Old 5th July 2020, 20:07   #42
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I did not mean to offend you. I actually happen to agree with everything you have said. But, your view point has come through your experience which is quite deliberate and studied.
I wasn't offended at all, quite contrary I wrote that I didn't intend to offend your take, and as I've said before, trading views without taking offense is a great way to learn. I merely said that IIT and IIM aren't all that they're cracked up to be, and we all know popular opinions and popular perceptions are almost always wrong. I agree with everything else that you've written.

At the end of the day nothing works more than an open mind, a clean heart and a noble intention. I started an entrepreneurial journey with the same 3 pillars, some associates/peers criticized my success (sour grapes syndrome), some relatives doubted my ability and took me for an utter moron (usual relatives behavior) but with the support of parents I took the leap and have been cruising along happily ever since (until corona slammed the brakes).
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Old 5th July 2020, 20:40   #43
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From what I can tell, YouTube videos and online courses from Coursera and the like are far better than any teaching shops in India. You have to select the right channels and the right teachers even here, but you can skip any that you don't like.

Don't take my word for it, just watch some of those awful videos from some of these teaching shops on YouTube - I am appalled at the rock bottom rubbish that passes for education even today.

I regret that I never had resources like YouTube and Coursera, and I think you can dump that useless piece of paper they give you after listening to years of nonsense from your professors. The only thing makes that paper worth keeping is another interconnected system that artificially inflates the value of that paper - and they have their own reasons for doing so.
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Old 5th July 2020, 20:47   #44
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Few inputs from my side:
1. Stop envying: You will never sleep well if you keep comparing yourself with those with more material means. Learn from them, see what skills enable them to get the wealth they do, and work towards those skills.
2. Think long term. What you earn in your 20s and 30s is insignificant for your future well being. Make a marathon out of your career, not a sprint.
3. Talk to parents and wife/partner daily: I do this even today, though I am over 30. Parents depend a lot on you emotionally and a single call even for 10 minutes makes their day especially if they are retired.
4. Never be afraid to be who you are: Someone else may criticize/mock you for your origin and journey. Don't bother. Be accepting of who you are. Never fall for the lure of changing your personality to please others, except when it is professionally recommended.
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Old 5th July 2020, 21:58   #45
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Thanks, Mohan, for nudging me to this thread. I was beginning to drift away!

Few disclaimers -

1) Only stating from my direct experience of things.

2) Not differentiating regular colleges and IIT/IIM; Harvard/Wharton/etc. To me they are largely the same. Strip away the labels and look for just few things - how responsibly and well the person does his/her job; and how difficult/easy they are to work with. Nothing else matters much.

3) My views are for a typical common man (that I am) with no god father wings or shields.


Things I wish I knew in school & college:

The long term growth and success quite often depends on two things -

1) Technical Skills - Expertise in the subject matter and deep understanding of it.

2) People Skills - You should be easy to work with, collaborative, respectful, ability to speak with people without getting judgmental etc.

Technical skills are easily learned and mastered. We do that all the time. People skills are (long term) character. Not built overnight! It builds with being introspective and having a degree of self-awareness and observance. The formal education, even from early days, should try and polish both these aspects.

As other have mentioned - financial literacy is a must. It should be like how we learn English or some such language.

Life would be damn dull if people did not learn few other things - some music or musical instrument; Develop some hobbies like photography; At least a little bit of martial arts; etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohansrides View Post
formal post graduate education is a giant waste of time
Disagree (vehemently)!

There is obviously nothing black and white and many of these will have a broad grey area with wide variety of experiences. I'll place just a few -

1) Many of my friends have had to leave their jobs at GE, HP, Cisco, Amazon, and few other places to go get themselves a masters or PhD degrees. Without that, they were stuck with no further growth after a while.

2) One friend who is now married, with kids and all that is desperately looking to do a distance PhD in CS because his career is stuck without further growth and seemingly the issue is that of the (lacking) higher degree. Too late for him get the degree the regular route - with family to look after.

Apart from such cases, a post graduate also helps better refining of the intellect, developing the personality better. But just as I mentioned earlier, it's not that these things cannot happen without post graduate education. Only that the likelihood is higher with that experience of post-grad education.

Another point - Majority of undergrads the last few years have had to go towards "IT" for their job options. Only a select few could pursue a career in their chosen majors (electrical / electronics / chem. eng. etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohansrides View Post
After a basic degree in commerce or the arts, they went to NIIT or Aptech and then started work in IT or in BPO by the time they were 21 or 22
Every now and then there are some fields that are "nascent" and barrier to entry and growth is quite low. The IT, s/w, and BPO sectors in just the pre-2000's was that. The same guys you are talking about will be in for a massive struggle if they were to adopt that NIIT/Aptech today.

A good understanding of the prevailing environment is a bit critical in proper (not right or wrong) decision making. Some times it is blind luck, other times a blind disaster.

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Broad-based knowledge of the world is all well and good. But, the economy won't compensate you for being a well-rounded individual.
Partly agree!

As one goes higher, one typically sees aspects of transfer of knowledge / learning from a variety of fields they can adapt and get further. Eventually, it does help to have a more well-rounded personality.
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