What Matters in College: Part 4/5

One of the best people I’ve interacted with till date, Pranay is as warm as he’s cool. The music fans, do read this one! When I approached him, not only was he more than excited to recount his life as an MITian, but also gave us plenty of insight into the world out there. Here’s what he had to say.

Cheers to having a bit of everything in life!


“We cry about it a lot (and for the right reasons, read ION), but I’ve seen people’s jaws drop to the floor when I casually tell them about Manipal’s infrastructure. And even though we live in perpetual gloom during the odd sem, there are other perks no one else can boast of! The location (proximity to the Arabian sea and Agumbe) and the fact that we get to live in a university town, with the majority of the population from the same age-group. All these things give Manipal a unique culture. Thus, the coolest asset that you can find here are the people. Interacting with people from all parts of the country teaches you a lot and opens you up to accept all cultures. This leads to an overall development of your personality and sets the foundation for your professional life. You tend to be more confident and out-going compared to people from other places. I’ve found these traits quite common among Manipal alumni! This is what makes me happy about coming to Manipal and getting a chance to be friends with and learn from those around me. If you want to pursue things on your own, the sheer number of people increases the probability of running into someone you can start projects with. A lot of my friends ran into their co-founders in Manipal and are now doing great things at places such as Fracktal Works and Gyan Lab.

Speaking from my awareness of STEM, competition today is ubiquitous. This is due to the sheer amount of qualified candidates. I’ve observed this on both sides of the industry. Be it the enterprise side (at VMware) or the start-up side (at Shippable). Don’t be intimidated! There are ways to safe-guard yourself and stand-out. You should try and intern at companies in the summers. That makes you aware of how things are done in the real-world. The experience also gives you content to speak about in interviews! If you end up at an enterprise company, try your best to switch to a team working on a high-impact project. Get your manager to sign you up for company trainings. Look out and search for opportunities to contribute around you! If you want to work for a start-up, you’ll need to start taking initiative. Keep up with latest trends in tech and be aware of the business aspect of things as well.

One of the most important thing will be your network. Maintain contact with your college seniors and never be afraid to cold-email them when the need arises!

The greatest thing about Manipal is the diversity. You could be into anything obscure, yet you’d find someone to share your interest with! The biggest influence on my personality were the people I met while working with MAFIA, Ed Board and being the Category Head of Finance (Revels). Some who still continue to inspire me and some of the type I have learned to stay away from.

Extra curriculars have more of an effect on how you perceive things, and how well you can communicate and get along with people. They give you a chance to face scenarios you wouldn’t normally be in. This way they don’t directly affect where you land but they do influence your personality. This matters in the long run and sets the foundation of your future-self.

Plus, college is the only time when all things are in perfect alignment. The people, the atmosphere and the activities. When the festivals arrive, it is comfortable to nap back in the hostels but working with a club on an event is going to teach you a lot of things you wouldn’t get a chance to learn any other way!

I’ll be blunt with this one. GPA matters. A lot. When companies visit the campus for recruitment, they place a cut-off for candidates. If your GPA meets the criterion, you get to appear for their placement process. With a great GPA (> 8.5), you’ll have the luxury to appear for almost all of them. Even more important, if you want to pursue your Master’s from a good school, a great GPA will take you places.

But everyone with a not-so-great GPA (which would have included yours truly), don’t despair! Most of the companies (CS/IT) usually have a cut-off around 7.5, so you might miss out on a few companies but you will get a shot at most of them.

I went through the same during my placement season. There were a couple of great companies I wanted to appear for (I remember Cisco being one of them) but couldn’t. I did interview with other companies that season before getting an internship offer from VMware.

This system sucks, I know. But recruiters aim at minimizing their risk and you can’t blame them for that. This is only going to affect the initial couple of years in the candidate’s career! Everything after that would be determined by your experience and skills. If you want to bypass all of this and want to pursue opportunities on your own, there hasn’t been a better time. With the start-up scene blooming in the country, there are a ton of awesome companies looking for people. These are the places who wouldn’t care about your GPA.

This is what I wish I had known in college.

Focus on building skills, work on side projects, go to hackathons, hangout at Linux Users Group meetings. Your projects do not have to be ultra-sophisticated systems. What matters is getting your hands dirty and exposing yourself to the technologies out there. Even a simple project that you pursue on your own will put you a cut above the rest.

I say this from personal experience and from observing everyone around me. If you have a dynamic personality, at some point during the four years you’re going to hit an all-time low. It could be with anything. Academics, placements, friends. But you should know that everything will eventually be okay. It’s easier said than done but you should learn as much as you can from it and know that this experience will change you for the better.

I appeared for more than half a dozen companies before I could get an offer. Once you’re two years into the industry you realize how trivial everything was. But when you’re in the moment and everyone around is secure with offers, it affects you a lot! Couple this with the fact that it’s the 7th semester and your college life is coming to an end, you get a rather strong cocktail of some intense emotions.

On a lighter note, I’d advise you to immerse yourself in your interests and hobbies. There won’t be a better time than this! I love metal and found friends in the scene who shared similar interests. This was a big part of my college life and my taste in music evolved tenfold!

For people looking forward to follow their hobbies, I’d like to tell you about two of my friends who followed their interests and changed their streams. Madhur (https://www.facebook.com/TeZuk4) was one of the best guitarists Manipal has ever seen and is now pursuing his Master’s in Music Technology from the University of Miami. Ananth ( http://www.ananthpai.com/ ), while in the middle of his Mechatronics course, found a penchant for design and was involved in a design start-up called Poster Anna. He’s now pursuing his Master’s in Information Design at NID, Bangalore.

You should definitely pester these guys if you need specific advice on following your interests!

Our college provides a journey like no other. In today’s day and age, it’s not enough to score marks and finish a few courses. You need all round development, which Manipal provides, through a perfect balance of academics, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, interaction with like-minded individuals from all over the country, and the world, and the freedom to decide how you want to shape your future. This overall development helps students from our college to stand out wherever they go. This, coupled with hard work and sheer determination, makes any Manipalite excel in his/her field. Coming to Manipal was a life changing experience, in an extremely positive and fruitful way. The learning has been endless, the experiences have been enduring, and the journey could not have been better.

The market is full of opportunities. India has seen exponential growth in the software industry over the past two decades, and the numbers of jobs are still growing. Companies like Uber are setting up new offices in India. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, InMobi, Google are hiring more developers than ever before, with salaries higher than ever. So while the market is growing, there is a lot of focus of competency and overall development, since every company would like the best students/developers to join them. If you’re sound with your basics and have a well-rounded profile, then you will definitely get your opportunities.”

Pranay Pareek, Batch of 2014.

A fan of Death (RIP Chuck Schuldiner) and a lover of life, Pranay Pareek  currently works as a Software Engineer at Shippable (Sep 2014 – Current) and has interned at VMware (Jan 2014 – July 2014). When he’s not busy working, or playing the drums, guitar or the bass, Pranay loves to spend his time reading.

Head over to http://pranay.xyz/ or https://www.quora.com/profile/Pranay-Pareek or https://twitter.com/PranayPareek and say hi to him on our behalf!

Read part 1 here

Part 2 here

Part 3 here

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