Popular Myths about a Career in Engineering

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I dare you to deny the following statement:

“India is the land of engineers.”

See, I got you struggling didn’t I?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you would be well aware of our country’s intimate romance with engineering. If the situation gets any worse, our dearest prime minister, Narendra Modi might just have to declare engineering as the national career of India. Most average Indian mothers think at least once in their lives, “Mera ladla beta bade hoke engineer banega”.
Now the fact that the ‘ladla beta’ is barely able to add 2 and 2 together, and has a flair for becoming a DJ, is just a minor technicality. What are engineering businessmen for? Yes, I call them businessmen because that’s exactly what they are- businessmen. Their only concern in life is to go for a swim in a huge pile of money (ala Scrooge McDuck). Why should they be bothered about the kind of “engineers” that their institution is producing, and whether those engineers even know the difference between ‘torque’ and ‘momentum’?
Everything is peachy as long as they have the golden ‘engineer’ tag on them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a personal vendetta against engineering. I feel that it is too a noble profession like many others. But the larger part of the so-called engineers are the by-products of a mass sheep producing machine (sheep-mator 3000), crying “mba mba” instead of “mah mah”.

So if you too have been dazed by the “IIT dream”, it’s time for me to give you a harsh dose of reality.  Here are some of the most popular myths about a career in engineering that have lived on for way too long:

#1 I am guaranteed to get a high package job.

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Ah, my favorite! Many of you naïve souls have the following formula in mind:

Step 1: Take admission in XYZ college of engineering.

Step 2: Survive long enough to get a B.Tech degree.

Step 3: Score a swanky job.

Step 4: Be RICH!

Wow. That sounds like a super amazing formula, doesn’t it? I mean, all of us have heard the story of their cousin/friend/neighbour who graduated from his B.Tech, and secured that coveted 15 lakh package. Didn’t that make you want to jump off your bed and just dive into your books? Only if life were so simple! What most of us don’t realize is that those dream packages are only secured by a select few, the crème de la crème of the institutions. Most engineering graduates have to content themselves with a 3.5 lakh package, offered by mass recruiters (a.k.a the saving grace of the average engineer). Agreed that the growth rate in engineering is good, and many that start off at 3.5 are earning big bucks after a few years, but that is NOT A GUARANTEED THING. Your growth would always depend on how you perform at your job. You won’t be visited by a career fairy at night, who will tranform your package with one flick of the wand.

 

#2 Engineering should always be followed by an MBA.

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Fill in the blank:

IIT + _____________= $$$

I won’t even wait for you to answer this one. We all know that the answer is IIM. When the words ‘IIT’ and ‘IIM’ appear in the same sentence, Indians’ hearts skip a beat. You won’t deny when I say that this one can easily qualify as the “Indian dream”.  This “dream” is also the perpetuator of yet another common engineering myth, that MBA is the next logical step after engineering. Since B.Tech+MBA is considered such a solid combination in our country, B.Tech graduates don’t even think twice before enrolling themselves for CAT coaching. Just try to find logic in this statement, “Engineering ki hai isliye main manager banunga”. I mean, if you have studied engineering, why don’t you become, I don’t know, an ENGINEER? True engineers are those mythical creatures that are working in technical fields such as dams, factories, petroleum refineries, etc. If your ultimate goal is to hold a plush managerial job in an American MNC, then why waste your time with engineering at all? It is a sad affair to see our country in dire need of engineers when half of the population comes with that tag.

 

#3 I’ll get settled right after I graduate.

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This one goes hand in hand with the package one. Think if you’ve ever heard these lines,”Beta bus kisi tarah B.Tech kar lo, uske baad to life set hai.” Of course, because top companies are just flocking around to give million dollar jobs to every tom, dick and harry, right? They obviously have a magical factory where jobs get created every minute, waiting for their ‘engineer in shining armour’ to come and take them. Why would they care about your calibre, your performance or your personality? I know you are not dumb, you can sense the sarcasm. No, there’s no magical world out there where there are jobs in abundance. With the boom of engineers in our country, the demand and supply ratio is seriously skewed. If you go to a random street and shout, “Who here is an engineer?”, you are guaranteed to see a lot of raised hands. In such a situation, thinking that you would be guaranteed a well-paying job right out of college is a very faulty assumption. You might have to struggle, specially if you are average.

Need to see more engineering myths busted? Head over to MINDLER for the original article, where you can also seek career counselling from Harvard, IIT and ISB graduates.

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