It is placement season in IIT Delhi, one of the best engineering colleges in India, which gives you an idea about how competitive the people here are. People slog from the first semester of the first year to get stuff on their CVs, to get those PoRs (Positions of Responsibility), to get that extra award, to win that extra event, to get that prestigious HUL/DB internship. It is done partly out of passion and love, and partly to build their careers, to get that coveted Day 1 job. I partly did it for that reason. A lot of us do it. There’s no harm in accepting it.

Before you realize, you are aligning your Extra-Curricular Achievements on your CV, sending it to seniors to get feedback, attending company presentations and trying to ask witty questions while applying for placements. You get shortlisted, start preparing for the placements, go to a cafe full of people to do some buddy case interviews. And then, the fight for hotlists, those firm partner calls, those irritating Human Resource questions. Lo and behold, it is December 1 already. (This is in the case of consulting preps, I don’t have much idea about other profiles)

If there is one word which could describe Day 1 of 2016 appropriately it would be: mayhem. The LHC (Lecture Hall Complex) was like a fish market, except the fish you were getting was going to affect your life for the next 2-3 years. There were broken dreams in abundance. The number of people placed this year were less than 50 percent of those placed last year. 

b’A representational image of IIT Delhi | Source: AFP’

I, somehow, thanks to luck, got placed. There are people who had put in much more hard work and are smarter than me, who are still unplaced. I met a friend who probably had the best CV in the college. She got the worst slotting ever and was unplaced even at 12:40 am. The ability to be calm and luck were the biggest factors in play. I saw IITians crying. People who are among the smartest brains in the country were breaking down. It was frightening. It was heartbreaking.

Signing out of the horror house that was LHC, I hugged my friends. In the evening when I checked FB on my phone, I saw my wall full of status updates and congratulatory messages. Less than 30 people were placed in campus and we are already rubbing salt in the wounds of those who did not? 

I can understand the joy which one feels when you get a job. But IMHO one should be humbled by it; rather than proclaiming to the world that we are the most deserving, the best and the most hardworking candidates on campus. We should understand that on the day that marks the culmination of months of sweat and sacrifices, we have so little agency in what happens to us. An angry interviewer, a pissed off senior, fucked up slotting by TnP (Training and Placement), your mind freezing because of the way an interview starts … There are so many things which can go wrong. And yet, so insolently we put a status and picture up.

b’The IIT-Delhi campus | Source: AFP’

Have we ever imagined what goes through the mind of an unplaced candidate when he browses his FB feed? Are we really sure that we deserved our jobs more than everyone out there? And even if we are, isn’t it better to not shout it out? I realize that X has worked his ass off and is all triumphant at his/her success, but what about the five others who had probably worked almost as much as you and got eliminated in the last round?

Such questions remain unanswered and I am going through an internal debate while there are others who are still battling it out. All the best my friends. Don’t lose confidence in yourself. All of us have been winners. Let us not let the day we got placed decide our worth. Life is and should be much more than that. 

People, stop acting like someone has achieved nirvana or won the Nobel Prize. It is just your first job. There were people who got amazing ranks post-JEE, lot of us that did not. A huge chunk of people who did not get amazing ranks also got placed. All successes and failures are temporary. 

Board exams, JEE, placements, etc are just milestones. And every such milestone is going to affect just a few years of our lives. Let us not attach paramount importance to it. Let us not make that guy who got the McKinsey/Tower Research/Goldman Sachs job the paragon of smartness in IIT.

Finally, let us pray for the rest of us. Best wishes fellas.

Kumar Sambhava is a student of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Delhi