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DateLine Sunday, 6 July 2008

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Holiday Workaholic Slave

Summer holidays -the heavenly period of sun, sand and a ...summer job?

Seriously wasn’t it a time of book-burning rituals and a cure to the awful exam-cramming disease?

No way, you need this once-a year break to catch up on your movies, music, summer boys/girls, parties and most importantly-SLEEP!

Rather than suffer the grueling torture of a workaholic’s fantasy, you really crave for that bronze tan that you’ve been anticipating and so literally waste precious (arguably, much deserving) time while your insane friends scramble high and low for that ultimate summer job.

*So why do they see the blissful point in it and you don’t?*

For one, life’s short and you got to take advantage of a new day. Whatever that means. Two, extra cash would be nice to buy that swanky new mini iPod(tm) you’ve been waiting to get your hands on. Three, the field you pursue your career is getting competitive by the minute!

Reality check: Not only will academic degrees count as vital peaks in shaping your career but industrial work placements, meager work experience phases like summer jobs and part-time commitments will qualify as an individual’s potential to prosper in their chosen career path.

On a more specific note, the IT industry is a cutthroat, competitive and a dangerous area to venture out into. Here, we realize the need for industrial work placement and on-the-job training even more. Unlike traditional summer jobs that can range from a sales agent for a cosmetics company or a telemarketer, getting a foothold in the IT industry is even more difficult.

Even if you start as a small time computer repairperson or even a data entry operator, keep in mind you did work so that clearly counts as WORK EXPERIENCE!

In the good old days, the handful of IT undertakers who were fresh out of IT graduate school did manage to get ‘respectable’ IT training of some sort.

They were headhunted like fish bait and promptly given a job on the spot! They belonged to the ‘elite’ club. So naturally, you idolized them and were planning to follow suit, thinking you will be their successors.

They drove their flashy BMWs(tm), earned six figure salaries and were a hit at cocktail parties where they would impart some unheard IT jargon that would make their listeners pay attention with their mouths agape.

All thanks to their unsurpassable knowledge coupled with valuable IT training and good luck in attaining that perfect IT position, moulding them into great IT professional.

Question: Where were they now?!

Fine, you are an IT graduate (at least you got some qualifications in that area) you actually undertook IT on-the-job training and so you applied for a trainee junior IT software engineer position in a good IT company. So why didn’t they call you?

Their story: They saw your credentials, absolutely satisfied with your academic achievements, happy with the fact that you actually had some form of work training but where was the actual *work* experience? Your curriculum vita is now in the office shredder.

Question: Why do trainees now need to have some work experience supported with the simple salary slip to indicate you did work for the company you had relations with long time ago?

The IT industry has become a butchered, head-axing guillotine where only the crème de la crème manage to get acceptance into frugal IT starting positions. So you are no superman or superwoman but you can keep your eyes peeled.

Look around, gather what you do know, try to study the latest platform available (different story if the present qualification you are studying doesn’t offer it-IT changes everyday).

Try building yourself into something useful to give back something to the IT community, better yet teach IT students to hack(at least they’d learn something). Definitely not to put ideas into your head but try to be logical and endeavor to be interested in what you do.

You never know where you’ll end up next. If you try to be a specialist in your region of interest, try to gather certifications that are the ‘in thing’ currently so you know that you will be sought after once you do perform well.

Advice: Don’t falter. Most small-time institutions provide important insight to equip even the amateur IT student with the best practical know-how available. You can also get the opportunity to network within smaller places and locate an IT company that will possibly suit you best. Be adventurous and daring so start to look for a place now itself if you want to belong somewhere. Don’t despair, you will find it.

*Networking helps:* The more you are involved in actually finding that dream job (or any good job for that matter), the more you know about what is up for grabs.

The more people know about which area you’re looking at, the more they’ll be willing to help you so don’t hesitate to ask. If you lack the drive or confidence in embarking on your working journey before you gain your academic qualification, just try to do some research on a ground-level to know exactly what is going on in the IT industry right now.

Most of the time, you have to keep yourself updated with the latest trends and developments because everything’s changing and like so, you have to incorporate yourself into that structure, Companies look for special individuals who are really open to changes and have a thirst to learn more and hence, will build on the existing foundation later.

Case Study: To make all this more understandable, consider these two scenarios.

Case 1: Mr. ABC is the typical intern who by chance, go into a blue chip IT company where he thought he could gain some much-needed IT insight by way of on-the-job training. The only problem, the staff see him as a potential threat. They hide their computer screens when he’s around thinking that he may be a computer spy or a hacker of some sort.

He can merely understand office politics in its worst form but is painfully aware that he better learn a thing or two otherwise his life will be a nightmare. He tries to help around, wanting to fit it, in fact some people like higher management who authorized his work placement take pity on him and teach him the tricks of coping with the situation. Besides that, he does meagre work, whatever he is assigned to, he does what is told, does it and asks for help very slowly.

Later, he gains the confidence of his superiors and moves on, gradually on par with them .Of course he knows that he will definitely get accepted into some segment of the structure and no doubt will have a successful future with the knowledge he obtained. So he is hopeful.

*Case 2:* Ms. XYZ is the workaholic slave. She hasn’t heard of the word ‘holiday’. She knows the ‘system’, how it runs, how it works, how she fits in and what is expected to fit it. She memorizes little phrases someone in office said, she thrives on office politics and more often than not causes some of it as well.

She is constantly overburdened with more and more work and sometimes think she does the job of 500 average workers. She has no time to take a look back and propose new changes on the outside because she is always handing things from falling apart on the inside.

Her views are crucial in decision-making processes and she thinks very logically. Her colleagues respect her and argue with her. Her knowledge on the existing framework is so much that she will tell you how to manipulate the routine to your advantage but will advise you to be cautious. Yet she is stressed most of the time and sometimes wishes she studied more to build on her present expertise but is happy she isn’t ignorant about her field. So she is hopeful as well.

Keep in mind, the nest time your friends look for a summer job, a part-time job or anything similar, don’t laugh at then, try looking fort one yourself, If you cant beat them, why not join them? You never know, you may even surprise yourself and may actually like what you ventured into.

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