Story request by Morapakala Srinivas (M. Srinivas sir)
For all practical and virtual purposes of this post, the names have denoted by various variables, same as what we do for most of our engineering lives.
In one of the four years of my engineering life, I had to take a few courses to complete the semester. After this semester, there was the Practice School and I’ll be sitting for placements before I graduate. As usual as I do at the beginning of every semester, I went up to my senior to ask regarding the courses. There were two particular courses that I wanted to ask about. Course A and Course B, taught by Prof A and Prof B, respectively. Yes, what you’re thinking is true. This is the substitution. Even if you’re not thinking about this, just think, for me, please?
After talking to him for a while about the holidays and stuff, I asked him about the courses. “Lite man. Course A has surprise tests in each tutorial, so go there and give the test. Course B has no surprise tests. One night before the exam is more than enough for a decent grade. Just prepare for that and you’re golden.” And how golden I will be was based on me understanding the course, not the marks in the exams. This reality didn’t dawn on me until later.
But, for now, I was glad in walking in the path that he had suggested for me. Attend tutorial for one course and study the last night for the other. It gave me time to do other activities and stuff. Such as becoming the top gamer in my campus. First at the wing level, then the bhawan and then the campus itself. As of now, I was around at top 5 – 10 at the campus level. Just kidding. I can’t play games. My laptop doesn’t have the configuration to accommodate such stuff.
Anyway, as I was saying. I have time for other activities. Go to the library for the Wi-Fi, A/C. SAC to play caroms. Sit till 7:30pm to 12am in the mess just randomly passing away time. It was a fun time.
Slowly the classes started and comes down the road, my first surprise test. I attend the tutorial, as my senior advised, to attempt that test. My grade wasn’t really that great right now and I needed to have all the surprise tests to get a grade. And there I was, moving to class, trying to calculate the number of credits and the grade I need to achieve to get a decent CGPA after this semester. I went to the class with no idea what was going on. None whatsoever. So I went to the class, hoping for some good to happen. For nearly 30 minutes, the Prof had discussed some problems and how to solve them. After that, he had taken the surprise test. The problems in the surprise test were almost similar to the ones discussed a while ago. I was very happy that I could complete those problems. I would get a decent grade in this, I thought. Course B, what was it? That was my situation. I didn’t know where the class is, what is going on and what I should study.
Everything was fine, until the next part of exams came into picture. It was T1 time and again, a junior following his senior’s footsteps as he walked, I’ve decided to study only on the night before the exam. Anything more than that wouldn’t do. As the night began, I started studying. I reviewed the problems from the tutorial and made an effort to do them again in my rough notes once again. I knew it was a worthy effort. Next day, before the exam, I reviewed those notes once again, hoping I would score an average mark in the exam. Luckily, for me, there were no theoretical questions in that specific exam, which I was very weak at. All were problems and I was good at them by now. I was happy about the grade.
Next, I have Course B. I got the photocopy of notes from the studious guy. Did he give me everything that was taught in the class, I had no way to check? But, I hoped that would be sufficient to get an average in this course. There was a lot that I had to study and one night is not really sufficient for something that happened over a month. But, I had to do. Being an Engineer meant being able to tasks that people think is impossible. And I did it. I had to forgo my sleep for that day, but I did it. I can sleep after the exams were done, as it is usually done. The exam was okay. Again, not many theoretical questions which will dump me, but the usual problems, which I had prepared each model at least once.
Again, only tutorials for the Course A and none for Course B. I took my papers after the test and I had got a little above the average mark. In both of them. I was satisfied. Good. This works, I thought. And all was forgotten till T2s came my way. This time, it was open book. Again, the usual. Get photocopy, textbook and I went to the exam, as a soldier, confident to win the battle. By now, I am used to Open Book Exams. Everyone will screw this up and by that average will be lower and that means, getting an average mark is not hard. And as T1s, this went smoothly. With me, surviving on 2-3 hours of sleep every day and reading up through the notes I have taken a photocopy of.
After the exams, I celebrated that with a feast. I went out to a buffet to eat and remind myself that there will be assignments and stuff before the final exam and I need to find a way to do them. This was a reward for surviving T2s. I felt happy after the papers were distributed, as I again scored a little above average. At every paper distribution, I was checking what I grade I could get, even in the worst case scenario and what the best case scenario was. I was sure to get something near 8 this semester.
Slowly, my days became hectic. Assignments, Presentations, reports and every deadline just showed up at my doorstep as a guest, who told they were coming, but nobody bothered to even care. My days were jam packed into finding someone to help me in the assignment. Running around them, asking for the assignment repeatedly, and searching for my project mates, trying to prepare for the presentations, reports. Life suddenly became hectic. I was losing sleep on completing the assignments and I was asking a friend to submit those, as I slept during the submission time itself.
Then came the compre. And with it, the beautiful selection of the Practice School 2 stations. I wonder why they do it together? Couldn’t they do it a bit early, when we were not stuck in compre pressure? Anyway, that meant, running to seniors or pinging them on the Practice School that I would get for a mediocre grade. And what were the placement options that I had. I have to make a list of companies that are lenient in the work and also give me a chance to work as an employee later on. I didn’t want to go through the tension regarding the placements that many of my seniors told me. Also, I want to stay in my core department and not move on to some other department. After a lot of BRAINSTORMING (note the word. I want to stress that this was more important than the compre itself), I have finalized a list of companies which I can do my Practice School. Slowly, compre passed as a breeze. Not really, there were theoretical questions involved, which I was weak at and I flunked them, completely. But the above average marks I scored in the previous exams had helped me in scoring an average in the course. I was happy for that, though. In a few days, the list of Practice School stations will be finalized and then I could get a 10 in the semester for 20 credits and my grade will shoot up. Also, I would be getting a Pre-Placement Offer and I would not have the hassle of bothering for the placements. I had left the campus after the completion of the exams and in a few days, my station was finalized.
Everything till now was a breeze. And it will continue to do so. The first few days in the company was easy. Come in, read a brochure, understand company policies and I was done for the day. A month later, I was called upon to know what are the skills that I have, what knowledge I possessed. I was not ready to say nothing. He was a prospective employer and he might end up deciding against giving me an offer if he knew I know nothing. I was definitely not going to do that. So, when he asked my grades, I was upright honest. I had a grade of 7.5 and all. In my life in engineering, I was able to learn that to a lot of people grades matter and they all lie at the top trying to hire people like me. So getting a grade was more important than anything else then. Knowing stuff can be done after that. Little did I know how wrong I was then. And little was more for what I can do now to undo that.
With a good grade as mine, he was impressed and he put me in a decent project. A live one. That’s a mistake, buddy, I thought. But again, the offer of employment had blinded my eyes to the truth. My new team gave me a week to understand what they were doing. In a case when a new trainee joins, they give them a month to understand what they were doing. But because of my wonderful grades and beautiful college, I was given just a week. Expectations on me were high. I tried hard. I read up on stuff that they gave me, watched the experiments completely. I even read after office. I spent more than the time I needed to in the office, just to understand what my project was doing. They were helpful to give me the reference material for understanding, but a week was too short a time to understand what I did in a semester. Later, I figured out that they have been working on concepts that were mainly covered in Course A and Course B. I was screwed, then. Only if I knew what was taught. All my notes were thrown in the store room and to find them was a nightmare. If only I attended those. What if…
Little did I knew then how wrong I was. And Little I could do now to undo that.