Transition from Classroom to the Corporate World – What You Need to Know?

This is exactly where most of us go wrong. The adaptation part I meant. Bungee-jumping into the corporate world without prior and proper homework is like the most innovative self-killing method ever invented.

College binds students with academic assignments and tasks which can be solved by copybook methods or by sharing notes among friends. But not in Corporate world. Late night studies don’t yield the same GPAs or equivalents, sharing notes don’t help as much as it always used to.

So, way out? What should be on the checklist of a student about to jump the corporate bandwagon just after finishing college?

Here’s the deal. We will provide you with a six point solution to all your worries and you can thank us later.

1. Expectations Management: – This is one part that almost everyone gets wrong and burns his/her hands with. Ever wondered while you slog it out day and night in office, your work is not being recognized, let alone be rewarded. What could possibly be wrong? We let you in the BIGGEST secret of a successful corporate career. Consider this; say a particular task would normally take 4 days; you being super enthusiastic promised your manager that it would get done in 2 days and delivered it on day 3. The Smart Alec next cubicle negotiated and promised his manager to get this done in 6 days and delivered on day 5. While theoretically you did the job 2 days faster than Smart Alec who do you think would win the praise from the boss.

You guessed it right – Smart Alec. Remember he delivered the task a day before what he had promised and you delivered it one day after the date you had committed and hence your manager’s expectations were not met. This delay beyond expectations may have also impacted downstream activities. Remember, Negotiation and Ability to say No are critical skills that you need in order to do a good job of expectation management.

2. Work-life balance: -So far life was all about well, life. College was mostly fun with occasional work (read quizzes and exams) related distractions. Enter corporate life, and given how competitive all of us are, the work takes the front seat and everything else goes on back burner. The time that you could spend pursuing your hobby (singing, guitar, weekend travels, sketching, social work) or with your family is spent toiling in office because that seems the only way forward. Before you know you have developed a paunch, struggle climbing stairs up, don’t know when was last you met friends and family, or went to this musical show you never used to miss. Do NOT fall into the trap.

Remember its not studying for a quiz or one assignment submission any more where one night slogging is justified; this is how you would spend REST of your life. Value your weekends, maintain a disciplined schedule (there is a reason 9 to 5 came in existence) and ensure there is life outside work as well. We work to live and not live to work. This may sound a rebellious advice, but its NOT. Taking time off for yourself would help you become more productive in the hours that you spend in office and hence its a win win- numerous studies have proven that.

3. Soft skills! Sigh!: – Soft Skill. How apt name for something which you either are born with, or are fed by the grumpy Placement Officer of your college, or you never get to manage the head and tail of in your entire life. Once you join the corporate world, you will realize that being able to communicate well with your colleagues, seniors and bosses at job means much more to you than anything else. A job is where you spend almost half of your life, if not more. And most of the fun, frolic, friendships during the entire tenure builds up due to the reasons like how approachable you are, how articulately you can gather your thoughts and present in front of others, and how well you can make others feel at ease in your company. Keep the following in mind:

a) Follow discipline. Most corporate offices have their individual policies regarding the same.
b) Be a team player – you should be able to work collaboratively across teams
c) Plan well and to the last level of details – Be it time management, work-division planning, or even planning an after-work cubicle-party.
d) Multitasking and problem solving abilities – Hope you know how important these two are for a working executive. Wait, or even for a student.
e) Also, flexibility, creativity, patience, self-motivating powers help.

4. Time Management Skills: -The corporate world lets you unearth the various skills you never knew you had. Time management is one such important part of having a white collar job. If you are too used to bunk classes and spend the entire time in the college canteen, if you are used to not study for the whole year and do it only when the exam is just a week or a fortnight away, if you pull off an all-nighter with friends for assignments and before weekly quizzes; you will soon realize that corporate world does not afford you the luxury of indulgence like these. Once you leave college, working on projects and assignments in the stipulated period, submitting them before the deadline is going to be a regular feature of the work life.

5. Just another job or a true calling?: – Most of the students go through this ordeal. Now, notice the order carefully – Join a college (Engineering? The quickest route to Nirvana?), stagger through the three/four years (Stagger, yeah that’s the word!), grab a job by campus placement process (who cares which company it is!), and then drag oneself against one’s will in the job. It’s really disgraceful if you take your job for granted, and continue with it just as a matter of fact. Wait before it strikes you at the place where it hurts the most. Are you really living up to your own expectations? Are you really doing justice to yourself? A job is not what you do just to grab a hefty pay-cheque at the end of the month. A job is what you spend more than half your life at, and hence, that it should be meaningful to you is just an understatement.

6. Be prepared for the worst: – If you are a fresher, you need to be prepared for many unexpected things ahead of you. Most of the times, students dream big while joining the company they have been recruited by. At the end of month one or two, most of them fail to recognize in themselves the zeal or excitement they had before joining. For one, the work pressure takes its toll on you. Number two, most of the work a recent college grad is given is entry level. Bright students find it hard to accept the fact that they are put in the same seat as another average guy. Expectation, they say, causes equal frustration. Be it life, be it work. Mental strength, on all fronts, saves you from drowning under the pressure of your own expectations and personal goals. It’s appreciated to have the ambition to move up the corporate ladder faster but remember there is no shortcut for hardwork.

Rajeev was going through the most difficult time of his life when he had two offer letters in his hand – both from two of the leading software companies of the country. This type of difficulty he always savors, for the reason that it gives him the opportunity to become spoilt for choices. But one thing he was not sure of; how to reconcile to the fact that life will no longer be the never-ending Christmas party that college was always to him. This article is specifically for students and recent grads like Rajeev. I know you are one since you are still on the article and finally, reading this line. Hope it helps. All the best!

[This article has been previously published as a part of my internship with ‘Internshala’. That too a virtual one. Link here:

Virtual internships – A Student’s Perspective

Rajeev has graduated recently and is waiting to join the permanent posting with the company he was recruited by on the campus. In the meanwhile, Rajeev has decided that he won’t just sit back home, and rather will spend his time meaningfully. And hence came up the idea of doing an internship. Soon enough he grabbed one (the genius that he is), and then he faced the greatest dilemma – to move out of home or not to move out of home. Being his last vacations, he wanted to spend as much time with the family as possible and hence he chose a work from home internship. He is an intern now who can work from his drawing room couch, while on the move in his car, and even updates the latest excel sheets while gulping down a burger at the nearest fast food joint.

Rajeev is not alone. Gone are those days when the employers used to be adamant not to allow the interns a single day of respite from the heavy work they are bestowed upon. With changing times, it’s not surprising that work from home internships, better known as virtual internships, are supported by many of the companies all over the world.

So, what is a virtual internship?

Virtual internships, where the intern never sets foot in the employer’s office, are growing in popularity, particularly for small and web-based companies who look to hire talented employees from a wider geographical region.

Virtual internships give students and employees the opportunity to handle the job ‘their way’, and yet be productive enough for the company. “I did not have to compromise on my passion for sports journalism. While I am based in Goa, ‘The Sports Campus’ from Noida gave me the perfect opportunity to work from home according to my preference of time. My mentor used to communicate with me on a regular basis over phone and email”, says Aditya, a BITS Pilani (Goa campus) student about his recent summer internship experience.

The trend that started in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the IT boom has now become a common practice among students all over the world. Most of the times students and employees who are unable to travel to the office locations are the ones who take up virtual internships. With the huge potential in Indian market, it’s becoming a popular practice for US based start ups also to outsource their works to interns here. Most of them pay well, and hence students, mostly in their undergraduate days, flock in lots to gather experience (hence, build up the CV) and start earning while still in college.

What are the advantages of a virtual internship?

1. Flexibility – For students with all round repertoire and interests, juggling between all of them and giving equal importance at the same time just becomes easier with work from home internship option. With round the hour internet accessibility, you can decide how to spread out your tasks in the calendar, and get each of them done accordingly.

2. Motivation – With friends and families around all the time, and not the boss, ‘being happy’ is just an understatement. “The fact that I can work in my pajamas with none to question me helps me a lot to concentrate on the actual work I am supposed to do”, says Sradhha, who interned with a web development company based in Mumbai last year.

3. Productivity – Less commuting time, less interruptions by colleagues can often work wonders for concentration.

4. Financial gains – If it happens to be a paid internship, saving on the transportation cost helps the students to save the entire pay package.

What are the limitations?

1. Limited mentoring & guidance – Since mostly the interns are fresh graduates or still in college students, they need continuous guidance. Rajeev never wants his skill set to become stagnant over time with the lack of mentoring. Hence, he makes it a point to mail him at least once a day, have some meaningful conversations, and learn new things.

2. Team Spirit – “A virtual internship is very much like a long distance relationship. The learning could be limited as not enough face time is available with the mentor, the networking and team bonding may be weaker (nothing works like water cooler conversations or over team lunch banter to get to know your team and colleagues better)”, says owner of a Gurgaon based start-up.

3. Lack of motivation – Being out of sight may even trigger lack of dedication to the work culture. Students tend to waste productive daytime, and later slog during the nights to complete projects and tasks. With a dedicated 9 to 5 job, balancing work and life outside the cabin becomes easier. Bharat, an IIT-Madras final year student interning with a California based start up, says, “You should be really motivated yourself for the project you have taken up. That is a major pre-requisite to take up virtual internships.”

4. Trust Issue – As Aditya mentions, “It is very important that you do a thorough research on the company you are applying to for virtual internship. If needed, have a conversation with students who already interned with the company in the past. That helps a lot to grow trust on the company before you put in your full effort for it. Also, if the company promises payment, make it a point that you receive a legal note from them in writing.” With trust on stake, neither the interns nor the companies will like to take a chance.

However, many of these limitations can be overcome with a little more discipline and efforts from both the sides. One of the growing trends is for students to take up virtual internships in the same city as company’s office location so that one on one interaction can happen on weekends. In days to come, work from home internships are never going to be out of ‘fashion’. Sonal, a 2nd year undergraduate student with Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communications and a work from home intern with a start-up says, “I like virtual internships because these provide me with opportunities to handle my college studies as well as work on real life projects. Whereas, college helps me build the academic foundation for my career, my internship experiences will certainly help me a lot when I sit for campus interviews with MNCs.”

We agree.

[This article has been previously published as a part of my internship with ‘Internshala’. That too a virtual one. Link here:

Cafe Review: Cuppa Java

As we mentioned in this post before, the visit to Cuppa Java was a part of the plan to hit as many interesting places in the city possible, to celebrate 11th’s ‘Eat what you want day‘. We visited ‘Victoria Junction‘ first, and then, went to ‘Cuppa Java‘, adjacent to it.

We have had some experiences of well-known cafes from all over Kolkata, and hence, we had expectations from Cuppa Java on aspects like the food we can have there and their services, as well as, most importantly, the ambience they can offer. When you are going to visit a cafe, it’s always the ambience that is being put at the top of the priority list. At least, that’s how we, the coffee fanatics, work.

Cuppa Java offers a wide range of choices when you tend to take up your perfect beverage. With witty coffee related quotes marqueeing in and out in the front panel in their website, you will be happy to realize that the staffs and the people associated with this place is as much a coffee lover as you are. This was our first visit to Cuppa Java and within minutes of entering the place, the way we were being welcomed, the way we were guided with the menus, the orders; we already started regretting why we did not visit the place earlier.

The store has a very simple appearance, situated at the northern fringes of the city, on the long stretched Sevoke Road. Though the placement could have been much better had it been nearer to the central area of the city, but then again, on second thoughts it became clear to us that it’s the silence and the aloofness of the place that has made it such a good experience. Maybe the hustle-bustles of the city would have broken the peacefulness that is connected with the place.

Cuppa Java has two sections – the outer section serving coffee, cookies and other baked goods, and the inner section boasting of a hookah parlor. We tried out both the sections. The outer section was more common to the serious coffee lovers who use to hit the place simply to gorge on the blended goodness. Various offerings of cold coffee, moccaccino, cappuccino, espresso – you say it, and you will have to wait for hardly five minutes before you are being served.

The inner section was the hookah parlor. It was a dark room, as lengthy as a club room, with pool table set at one end, bean bags all around, and cushioned seating arrangements along the wall. A 26-inch LCD mounted on the central wall of the room plays video songs all throughout the day, and the best part, it’s accompanied by a really rich collection of contemporary and all time hit English numbers. The semi-darkness inside, along with the music gives a psychedelic appearance to the room, and you will never feel like coming out of it.

The best part of Cuppa Java, as it seemed to us, is their customer service arrangements. Since we were the first timers there (which the staffs surprisingly noticed), we were in awe by the help we got from the staffs. They did a quick briefing of their offerings, and helped us choose our orders. The quality of the food was quite good, and the service time lightening fast. We ordered Fudge American Brownie with chocolate sauce add-on, Black Forest Fudge et al. And turned out that we relished all of them equally.

Though Cuppa Java, as a chain, is not as popular as the likes of Cafe Coffee Day in small towns like this, but we liked the way it has managed to create a niche of its own. In the 1.5-2 hours we were inside, we saw a steady stream of customers flowing in and out of the eatery, and seemed to us that each of the them were regulars there.

Cuppa Java was an experience in itself. We liked their offerings, the services, the ambience, the food, everything. Of course a recommended place, if you talk about both their cafe as well as hookah parlor services.

According to us, best points regarding Cuppa Java:
1. Ambience.
2. Free Wi-fi zone.
3. Musical Den.
4. Quick and efficient customer service.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10.

Cuppa Java on Facebook: Cuppa Java
Contact: siliguri(at)cuppajava(dot)in

Eatery Review: Victoria Junction

Our main intention was to celebrate ‘Eat what you want day’ in as good a way as possible. And what can be better than to hit new eateries in town and eat what all you want!

Yesterday was the day we are mentioning here, and two of our team members took up the aim of visiting at least four eat-out joints in the city. Turned out that we could visit two of them – one being a little disappointing visit, and the later one an experience of a life time. This post is about the first joint – Victoria Junction, a live bakery.

When we entered Victoria Junction, it was in the middle phase of the day’s business in the early afternoon. Seeing us enter geared with cameras and note-taking pads surely seemed not to be a very good idea to them. Though that did not deter us from taking our independence of moving all around of the place taking pictures, scan the menu books, peek into the adjoining hookah parlour etc.

Victoria Junction is well known in this city as a live bakery and patisserie where you can get patties, pastries, cakes and other baked goods and also beverages of various types. They also have an adjoining Hookah Parlor with cushions and couch which seemed to be an ideal place for hangouts with friends, and strictly not with family. Seeing cameras in our hand made two of the young guys inside it throw us suspecting looks. But anyhow, they decided to carry off with their hookah-jobs with ease.

Though the staffing and attending system seemed to be unsatisfactory in Victoria Junction, I liked the fact that the visitors are given complete independence there. We moved all around the place, checked out the bookracks, took numerous pictures (without not even a single complain from the attendees) and finally settled down with some baked goodness.

Food was okayish. The donuts were not soft enough, but anyhow tasted nice. Victoria Junction has this delivery service of cakes for various parties and celebrations. We saw two customers picking up their orders and also two other coming up to place new orders. It seemed to us that the USP of the place is their system of delivery of cakes and party foods. Other than that, the regular items sold are not too much in demand. We were there for around 30-45 minutes, and saw only one another customer come and settle down in a table a little away from ours.

Overall, Victoria Junction may not score well in areas like customer service and quality of regular food items; but seemed the live bakery section working hard all through the day serving the delivery orders is what keeps their business running.

About Victoria Junction, we most liked:
1.The latest ‘Kindle’ magazines put on the tables for the customers to go through.
2.The book racks. Though they really had a very bad choice for the collection, but I don’t remember getting to see much of these bookracks in other eateries.
3.The interior decoration of the Hookah Parlor, which they fondly call ‘Kafe adda’.
4.The beautiful paintings on the walls.
5.Pricing. Very reasonable.

We disliked:
1.The customer attending system.
2.Quality of foods. We, obviously, could not taste all of their items, so this non-likeliness can well be restricted to the items we had.

Overall Rating: 7/10.
Victoria Junction on Facebook: Victoria Junction
For more pictures of Victoria Junction, visit BTL on Facebook here: Between The Lines
Contact: +91 353 6500167
Takes Reservations
Walk-Ins Welcome
Good For Groups
Good For Kids
Waiter Service

Gig Review: Solo performances by Durjoy Choudhury

As we slowly and languidly entered the mall, faint traces of a harmonica accompanied by the strumming of an acoustic guitar touched us. It reminded me of my childhood days when I heard Bob Dylan for the first time in a local radio channel. We were unaware of the event, instead met with it quite luckily. Mani Square, Kolkata, April 22nd, 2011.

We were all taken aback by the fantastic use of harmonica, the smooth strumming of a guitar and the prominent voice of Durjoy. In simpler terms he was fantastic on stage, sometimes sounding like a Greek God. In a single breath, Durjoy, the singer-songwriter, performed for an hour and a half. His lyrics seemed to have the touch of the 1960s but yet they sounded afresh and energetic at the same time. It had been a great pleasure to watch him on stage, singing 15 songs among which there were only a handful of covers, like Leonard Cohen’s “Take this Waltz” and “Suzanne”, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, Arlo Guthrie’s “Comin’ into Los Angeles” and the concluding song, Billy Joel’s “Pianoman”. He moved through a variety of genres throughout the show, with his Blues original, “You Know Who I Am!”, a rock ‘n’ roll number called “A Love Song in D-Major”, and some songs in the country rhythm like, “Back on the Road Again”, “Song for the Girl with Weary Eyes” etc. In the concluding session, Durjoy had been accompanied by Tathagata on the solo guitar, who really added an extra zeal to a couple of his songs.

It had really been a great pleasure to witness Durjoy, live on stage in Mani Square, with his fantastic set of original music and his extraordinary use of harmonica. It had been a long time since someone with such promising and prominent song writing capabilities hit the stage in Kolkata. It had been a rocking evening witnessing the masterpiece of such class.

About the singer: Durjoy started taking music seriously since 2004 and it was from then that he started composing his own songs and his only accompaniment at that time was his guitar. Initially, he was excessively influenced by the songs of Bob Dylan and it was then that he took up the harmonica as his second instrument, and started playing both simultaneously. Today, Durjoy has over eighty originals and he likes to control the stage single-handedly doing that “one-man-band” act.

Equipments: Takamine LTD 2008 Acoustic Guitar
Hohner Harmonicas – Models – ‘Blues Harp’ and ‘Pro Harp’

Solo Acts:
1.“U-Turn ’07”, Jadavpur University, September 2007
2.“Mileu 2008”, Presidency College, January 2008
3.Reunion, Dept. of Economics, JNU, New Delhi, March 2008
4.Panjim Pharmaceutical Institute, Panjim, Goa, March 2008
5.“Fresher’s Welcome” Dept. of Comparative Literature, September 2008
6.“Xavotsav ’09”, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, January 2009
7.“Sanskriti 2009”, SFSU, Jadavpur University, March 2009
8.“Open Mic.”, Someplace Else, November 2009
9.“Open Mic.”, Someplace Else, January 2010
10.“Open Mic.”, Someplace Else, February 2010
11.“Sanskriti 2010”, FETSU, Jadavpur University, March 2010
12.“Best of Open Mic.”, Someplace Else, April 2010
13.“Soundcheck” Jadavpur University, February 2011
14.Mani Square, April 2011

[Note from BTL team: As planned, BTL has now started reviewing for gigs happening at Kolkata too. Not all of them are possible, but as much as time and money and contacts approve, guest reviewers from Kolkata are now allowed to send updates in the form of write-ups and pictures to BTL.
As the first one of these new developments, we hosted musician Durjoy Choudhury on BTL today. Reviewed by none other than his close friend and manager Aniruddha Das.