2nd June 2003 was an eventful day in my life. It was on this day exactly 9 years ago that I stepped into the IT industry. I can never forget this day in my life. In one way it was and still remains one of landmark days in my life. Although I was offered the job at what was that time called the NetGalactic Internet Solutions Pvt Ltd on 25th May, I had one weeks time to join as we were around 9 or 12 freshers selected as trainees. This is an account of my 9 years journey in IT industry.
How it started
Year 2003 was one of the difficult year to get jobs especially for fresher. The DotCom boom of the late 90’s had sort of dried out and if I remember correctly there was a minor recession period going on during 2003. While I was looking out for opportunities in Bangalore, one of my friend informed me that there is a company in Kormangala which is hiring DotNet developers. I managed to get through the technical rounds and was offered a trainee position. After a week or two weeks of training I started working in the night shift between 8 PM to 6 AM. Being the first job, the work was exciting. I was lucky to work on a Tablet PC based application back in those days. But working during nights was really difficult. After 6 months of night shifts I was lucky to have regular shifts. It was a huge relief. More than anything else it allowed me to have fun and enjoy weekends with my fun loving room mates. Those were the golden days at the beginning of the career.
How it progressed
After working with Netgalactic (now Skelta) for about 18 months I moved to a different company. The move didn’t really work for me and the stay was very short lived there for just about 4 months. During the short duration of 18 months with Netgalactic, I had opportunity to work with some of the best people in Netgalactic. I am sure whoever worked on the Tablet PC app during that time reaped rich dividends in their career. Such was the learning associated with that project that each and every individual benefited from it in one way or the other.
Thomson Financials (now Thomson Reuters) was my next break. This was one of the biggest breaks of my career. I worked with Thomson for close to three years. I had so many opportunities to attend world class trainings and I owe many of my current skills to the knowledge that I gained during that time. Till date this has been my best company in terms of work life balance and overall work culture. The group where I worked was and in fact still is like a well knit family. You automatically get embraced in their culture. Within one or two weeks of joining you feel like an integral part of the family.
I am not at all surprised that the attrition rate is the lowest among all my friends and colleagues who were working with me back in 2005. I very rarely have to update their mail ids. I miss the work culture of Thomson very badly.
My next stopover was with one of the worlds largest retailer and definitely UK’s number one Tesco. It was at Tesco that my career graph really started moving upwards. I had opportunity to work with my colleagues in UK for short duration. The visit to UK was helpful in understanding various things. The best thing I learnt at Tesco was the system design and Architecture. I had the opportunity to work with some of the best people in Tesco. My knowledge and experience of Agile started with Tesco. I appreciated the Tesco values very much. If I miss anything after leaving Tesco then it certainly has to be the values and the culture. The experience I had during my three years of career with Tesco is something very very special. I still have many contacts in Tesco HSC and Tesco UK with whom I interact on regular basis. I miss working with these wonderful people.
The quality of work that I was involved in during my role as Tech Lead of the Instore team was something that I cherish the most. The guys who worked on the Korea International project with me were a great team. I miss them very very much. The whole Instore team inspired me to give my Technical best and I am craving for work of similar complexity ever since leaving Tesco. For those people who worked with me during my Tesco days, they know how much I loved to talk about the Picking Algorithm. Even after 18 months of leaving Tesco, I still remember most of the complex pieces that I had worked on, related to the Picking Algorithm.
I hope some day in future I’ll find work which is equally challenging and interesting enough to say that I worked on a project better than the Picking Algorithm. Until then for me Picking Algorithm or Picking Control System (PCS) as it is known in Tesco is the best project I have ever worked on.
Last but not the least, currently I am working as a consultant for a French Investment Bank in Singapore for past 18 months. The switch from India to Singapore has been good so far. I definitely added more firepower to my arsenal of technical skills here. But somehow I feel Tesco was the pinnacle of my technical journey. Life is much smooth in Singapore compared to India but somehow I feel the technical challenges in India were more compared to the current state in Singapore. Obliviously I can’t expect same kind of work in all the places. The beauty of IT industry is that it gives us the opportunity to experiment a bit.
Two years back I had never thought I’ll be in Singapore. Similarly I don’t know what next 24 months have in store for me. Given the dynamic nature of IT industry I don’t really like to plan beyond a period of 6 months or so. Hopefully things will continue to be good and I can hope for better. In my career so far I am yet to complete 3 years in a single organization. Both Thomson as well as Tesco I came very close but missed out by one or two weeks. I hope I’ll be able to stay long enough in my current job to beat that.
When I look back at my journey from a trainee programmer to a Tech Lead, it gives me a great satisfaction. I am fortunate enough to have worked with some of the best people in the industry. I had opportunity to interact with people from all over the globe. I was fortunate enough to travel to different countries in UK, Europe and Asia because of my job. I don’t think I would have enjoyed so much in any other industry other than the IT. If it was not for IT, I would not have been able to afford all the gadgets including smartphones and notebook PCs to say the least. I feel proud to be associated with this wonderful industry. Nine years is too short a period to gauge some ones career. But certainly it is far better than many other industries where life becomes stagnant after couple of years. Best thing I like about IT industry is the everyday challenges and never ending scope for innovation.
A bit of advise for anyone looking to build your career in IT
It is very easy to get distracted by the advise of others. I certainly found it difficult during my job search as people kept telling it will be difficult to find a job in IT. For any youngster trying to make it big in IT industry here is a piece of advice based on my personal experience. IT industry is one of the most open industry you’ll ever find in the world. You get rewarded in direct proportion to the efforts you put in. If you are willing to learn and adapt you’ll always have enough work in IT. All you need is the will and the skill to get the job done. Look at all the success stories in IT, not everyone is holding a high profile degree from some renowned university or something like that. More often than not, most of the success stories are related to the people who though out of the box and brought out the innovation. You don’t need to go too far back in history, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are classic examples.
Don’t get complacent in your job. Always remember that to survive in IT, you need to keep sharpening the axe. Don’t be single dimensional. Try to add more than one skill to your skill set. Initially during the first couple of years it might be difficult to choose what kind of work you would like to be involved with. But after that as you move into the 4th or 5th year of your career you need to make a choice whether you want to continue with what you are doing or you wish to move into different roles like management.
Like in any other industry, IT industry is also full of extremes. You’ll find extraordinary things on one side as well as what people like to call bull shit or crap to be very modest on the other. It all depends on which side you want to be with. If you treat your profession as a craft and yourself as a craftsman you will surely end us on the good side. Even a stopped watch is correct twice a day. If unfortunately you end up in a wrong place, I would suggest try to find the positives in those situations as well. Make an attempt to make things better than you found them previously. If you love your craft you’ll never feel bored of your work.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey of 9 years in IT industry. I can’t think of any other alternative career where I would have enjoyed so much. May be I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Over these 9 years I always loved my work and I hope it will continue to be the same forever. I take this opportunity to thank each and every individual who helped me during my progression in all these years, my family, friends, colleagues, mentors and people from the developer community. Without your support I would not have been what I am today. The journey has been far more rewarding and exceeding the expectations. I wish the coming years will be even more encouraging and rewarding for all of us involved in this industry.
Signing off as a proud and passionate IT Engineer.