The Road Not Taken
Every year lakhs of Engineers are produced by thousands of colleges across our country, half of those young birds didn't even wished to become an "Engineer" by choice. Herd mentality kills half of the talent and any fuel left is taken care by the immense generation gap that exists in India. New Trends are followed blindly, career choices are made on the basis of latest trends. I could also have been a victim of such an education system but i choose the road not taken.
Year 2015, Entrepreneurship is the new talk of the town. I graduated from Manipal Institute Of Technology with a civil engineering tag on my back. With no clue what to do with my career and no interest in the word "engineering", i came to Bangalore looking for an opportunity like many others. New companies, lesser people, greater learning aspect, freedom and flexibility everything lured me to get into the management field, the Startup field. I got an interview arranged at BYJU's classes by one of my college mates. BYJU's was looked as a company where all the left overs of the college went. I had a similar notion but despite being a 8 pointer in my branch i was among the few who did not get placed from college. The interview was arranged for a Business Development role to a senior manager but as the fate demanded the manager was not available at the time of interview and some backend Operations self-proclaimed manager took my interview and i got selected. My first job with a CTC of 4 lakhs, my parents were as happy as they should have been but for me it was all normal as if i knew what was about to come.
I joined the company after a week, i was a nervous lad back then expected loads of work to be thrown my way as the company consisted around 100-150 folks back then. A week went by, then another and then another but the work pressure was never handed to me by my manager. I saw everybody working or at least pretending to work and there i was sitting and passing time 3/4 th of the time in office. The lack of interest made me skip office regularly. I started getting the feeling i got stuck with this self-proclaimed manager who did not have any work for himself to do in the first place. With a vague work culture at the company and my complete lack of interest in the profile, i decided to quit the company in about 4 months. With the booming entrepreneurial culture all around and an inspired and ignited friend circle, i started planning my own startup idea. Being just motivated by money back then, i never realized that by that time every 1 out 3 graduate in Bangalore was doing the same. Running their minds to get an idea for a startup. I needed to get a grip of things first rather burn my parents' money in some food-tech or a laundry service type startup which had no meaning, required no skills, had no innovation, had nothing that others can't do. I knew i had only one shot at building a company and i decided to learn the culture and skills first and then get into the market.
I had a group of 8-10 people all looking forward to the entrepreneur in me to get an idea out of mind from somewhere, money being the only motivating factor and not passion for sure. I had different plans, passion for learning something new, learning the startup culture was thriving inside me. I started applying to startups with less than 10 employees to really understand the basics. Got a job soon after i left BYJU's at a startup, i was all excited to be the 7th employee of the company. But destiny never fails to surprise us. I went to my college convocation and had to join the startup afterwards but the founder never picked up the call after i returned from my convocation for reasons i still am not aware of. Next 6 months i kept applying to startups with minimum number of employees with a single motive of learning and developing my skills. I had decided by then that i do not require an MBA degree, had a zeal inside that pushed me every day towards entrepreneurship. I gave about 10-15 interviews but failed to get a position of my choice in any of the startups. All my group which was highly motivated to build a company with me shifted towards MNC jobs eventually. Later someone pointed out that i did not have the correct English speaking skills, one of the founders pointed out that he could not see the passion inside or energy inside me. I seriously doubt his credibility as a founder today, i knew i had the skills, zeal and at least 10 times more will to work and learn than he could ever have. The only thing i lacked was my "Confidence".
After 6 months of just browsing and reading stuff about startups, loosing support of all friends who wished to work together and a rejection from so many companies my confidence level sank to the depth i could never imagine in my dreams. After an year of completing my graduation, i was unemployed looking to survive in this city. People started suggesting me Analyst jobs in MNC's as according to all i was just being stubborn with the whole startup thing. The rejections i faced did made me lose my confidence but it all made me stronger in making 1 decision clear in my head that irrespective of what the world might think of me i will continue on the path that i decided. Maybe i was not that passionate about entrepreneurship when i came to Bangalore but i surely was by now. I made a choice that many could not dare to. Without any support, any funds, any mentors i was fighting my way up somehow. By now i decided that Finance is the field that i gonna launch my own startup into, started studying about the sector and finally managed to get a job on my merit in a Fintech startup named Finomena this June. The company was perfect in every aspect and i thought all the dedication and will power has finally paid off. I mesmerized everyone with my work in the first 10 days of my joining. The fire was ignited inside me facing the odds of the society since last 6 months and i gave it all i had but made one mistake that i had to lie about my previous work experience because of the gap created which is a major concern for recruiters. I faced a few rejections only on that basis and was not willing to let this opportunity go. Eventually in a month my dedication, passion, energy was overlooked and i was fired on the spot for the lie. I undoubtfully would have been the best employee but despite achieving all the other objectives that are being preached around by startups i lost this job as well. I could not believe what happened and lost all hope afterwards.
All this while one thing that did not help my cause is the fact i never told my parents that i quit my first job last October and it was time i made them aware of the reality. I went back home, confronted them about my experience in last 8-9 months and took some time off from Bangalore not to back off but to come back stronger. Being constantly diverted from my building my business plan, i kept the studies going in the Finance sector. I was willing to learn and master digital marketing before i could start working towards a final business plan. Luckily i got an internship at Yourstory, a dream internship for any startup enthusiast. I planned my next 6 months and came back to join the venture, already decided that it will be the last organization that i will be working for before i finally get going with my own company and it was the perfect opportunity. Only this time My health didn't support me, could not make it to the internship for couple of weeks and hence it was canceled. It's been a exactly an year since i left BYJU's classes on my own. That company raised capital from none other than Mark Zuckerberg but i still do not regret my decision. In fact i do not regret any of the decisions i took in the past one year because my head is clear with about my future, about the dreams i wish to pursue, about the way i wish to move forward from here on.
At 23, half the crowd in the silicon valley of India is still confused about their lives. Startups have started failing, they always did. People are running out of ideas and instead of using the technology and innovation most of the 23 years old seem to be following the new trend of pursuing an MBA degree now just for the sake of having a post graduate degree not realizing that credibility is not defined by any college degree in today's world. I was forced by almost everyone to change my path and follow the herd but i am proud of the decisions i took in past one year. I still am an unemployed but that does not affect me any longer. I will continue to walk on the Road Not Taken until i reach the end which for me is starting my own company 1 day.