#include me_too.please

Published Date
01 - Jul - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jul - 2006
#include me_too.please
If you've ever spent time in cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Gurgaon, or, for that matter, any metropolitan city you'd probably appreciate how tough it is to turn a corner without bumping into an IT geek. And with their populations approaching obscene numbers, you won't be receiving respite anytime soon, especially if you join the brigade yourself!

The lure of the ever-growing Indian software industry is near-universal. Apart from being part of India's biggest industrial sector, you will be exposed to cutting-edge technology and will get paid a goodish bit more than your counterparts in other fields. However, you don't want to jump into it without knowing what it's all about, do you?

Getting In
Making your way into a software company has never been easier. With the industry growing at a phenomenal pace, demand is high, and there just aren't enough IT professionals in this country. Some companies have even begun hiring students from non-IT backgrounds and training them for the role. Engineers and MCAs, though, still remain the cat's whiskers, and a good number of companies still hire only from that pool.

"Engineers, we find," says a senior HR executive from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), "are better at conceptualising and reasoning, and usually do well in the long run. Of course, I wouldn't like to generalise." These sentiments are echoed by Rakesh Gupta, Director of Engineering at Impetus Technologies. "Engineering programmes help a student develop strong logical and analytical skills, and these, more than technical skills, make them desirable candidates."

So what do they look for when hiring fresh graduates? For starters, you need to have a good academic record. While a number of companies don't specify a cut-off, an aggregate of at least 60 per cent will ensure that you don't walk away from your campus notice board cursing under your breath. In addition, you will have to take an aptitude test, the format of which varies from company to company. TCS, for example, has separate tests for aptitude and personality. You will also need some basic programming skills to do well in these tests.

Once you clear the aptitude tests, it's time for the interview. Says Bharti Kakroo, HR Manager at Impetus Technologies, "We conduct two separate rounds of interviews-one to judge the technical knowledge of the candidate, and another to judge his or her personality."

I'm In! Now What?
Once you've been selected by a company, your training begins. Training typically lasts three to four months, and will cover all the fundamentals you need-programming and database concepts, developing algorithms and so on-before you are trained on a specific platform such as Java or .NET. Non-computer engineers needn't worry-companies have standardised training programmes that take this into account, and by the end of your training, you're going to be just as well-placed technically as the rest of your batch.

Training also helps build communication skills and soft skills such as working in teams-all to help you better fit into the company.

Database fundamentals are usually taught using Oracle as a reference, but this doesn't mean you'd be working with Oracle once out of training. However, the front-end technology you'll be trained on, be it Java, .NET or anything else, is usually decided based on the company's requirements, with some thought given to your preference. A notable exception to this rule is Larsen & Toubro (L&T) IT, whose training covers all the technologies you might work on, letting you further build your skills once assigned to a project.

Small Is Beautiful? 
Keen on joining a start-up company, but wondering whether it's the best for you? There will always be a bunch of mavericks that break away from the "safety" of a larger company to write software for a smaller one. Working for a small organisation will ensure you don't get lost in the crowd, a common concern now that bigger companies are hiring hundreds of people at the same time. The lesser manpower translates into more work and more responsibilities for you, which in turn will help you learn more. So, as the company grows, you grow too.
But there are things you need to think about first. Says Akshat Jain, Systems Engineer with NeoAccel Inc., "It's a job that requires a lot of passion. We find ourselves in 'all work and no play' situations most of the time, and you'd end up extremely frustrated if you don't love the job."
And who knows-if you've got stock options in the company and they get bought over by a big multinational, you could become a millionaire overnight!

The Long And Winding Road
For an idea of the path your career can take in the software industry, take a look at the mind-map above. As you can see, there are distinct tracks you can follow depending on your passion. Incurable geeks will most likely find happiness in R&D and architecting software; the half-geek-half-management types are best suited for project management.

From time to time, you will be encouraged to take various certification examinations. As Rakesh Gupta puts it, "On-the-job training is good, but it doesn't have a specific target. Certifications help individuals brush up on their technical skills, and define a base for their knowledge."

What's Next For The Industry?
While it may sound foolishly jingoistic, there is a remarkable amount of truth in the statement that the Indian software industry can only go up. Many companies from abroad have started setting up shop here, contributing to the already bloating number of jobs in the sector. And think about it-Indian companies mainly provide customised solutions to specific clients today. We've yet to get both feet into commercial product development, and when that time comes, it's going to be as exciting as an exploding goose!  

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