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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chp 558. College graduation throwback

So there’s this blog friend of mine Vered whom I’ve known for quite some time. We even met at the third Mizo Bloggers Meet I attended back in Mizoram two years ago. Yeah she’s the one who did that crazy dance in the middle of the misty Durtlang road after our dinner meet-up.

The reason why I’m bringing this up is that recently I’ve been seeing a lot of her farewell and pre-graduation photo updates on my Facebook timeline. So apparently, she’s going to graduate from college this year, completing her BA LLB (Hons).

A big congratulation to her.

Now as a friend, I am really happy for her. But as an old fart who graduated from college more than a decade ago, I just couldn’t help thinking about the vast contrast between how people of today’s generation are graduating compared to our generation.

Back during our college days, be it graduation photos or farewell photos or any photos taken with our college friends, we had this thingie called “the roll film” that we had to take to a “Photo studio” and they would in turn take hours or days to develop the photos. But for these youngsters, it’s just a matter of seconds to see if their front facing camera had captured the perfect graduation selfie or not, otherwise they would just take another one. Sighhh…

[Image source: Danielle Vitarbo]

I know a lot of older generation peeps would agree with me, talking about how people had no cell phones during their college days as well. I guess I belong to a generation caught in between. When it comes to my generation, we had mobile phones to some extent. But it would be an understatement to compare them to the smartphones that we have today.

During my first year Engineering college, maybe 1% of my batch had mobile phones. Second year college didn’t see much improvement either. Those were the days when incoming calls were still charged and mobile handsets were the size of… ironically, some of today’s latest mobile phones! Funny how we went from small smaller smallest to big bigger biggest in terms of screen size... maybe this pic will cheer you up :)

When the cell phone boom happened around the year 2002 and service providers started providing free calls within the same network in order to compete with other networks (you gotta love capitalism and competitive free market for that), everybody started owning a cell phone. Soon, the queue at the local STD/PCO booth slowly started becoming shorter and shorter…

But of course during those days, having a mobile phone that could take photos as well was unheard of. In fact our main concern back then was whether our cell phone was capable of having a Monophonic or Polyphonic ringtone! Seriously.

I was in final year of college when Samsung N625 – “the phone don't ring but sings” was released. That was the marketing tagline of one of the first Polyphonic ringtone phones in the market. I bought that phone. And yeah that phone definitely had a snob value back then :)

Today's youth have come a long way from that. Mobile phones not only have super high-def photo and video image capturing abilities, but they also have complete access to the internet. A lot of college youngsters today are already on different job portals and professional networking sites or researching potential employers and comparing salaries & perks between different companies right from their handsets.

Applying for the mandatory final semester internship too is just a matter of seconds for the engineering student of today. I remember how much we had to travel and physically approach different companies for internship those days. And we had to carry our résumé in a 3½ floppy disk or take a print-out. Today, everything can be done through the cloud. Such a wonderful time to live in, if one can take advantage of all the technology around.

Back during my days, there weren't any job portals like, MonsterIndia, TimesJobs etc, so college placement time was the only time we could sit for job interviews. To look up on a company or job profile required going to a dingy old Cyber Café that charged by the hour, and waiting for an empty cabin usually took a lot of time because those were the only places hormone-raging college couples could use to make-out. And worse was the fact that most of the computers had Internet Explorer as their default browser. Only a few systems had Netscape Navigator, which was far preferred by the vast majority.

So those were some of the many struggles we had to face during our college days. I can't help but think how my life would have turned out if we had such advantages back then. Because one of the reasons why many of us are in the wrong line of work or why we climb so slowly up the corporate ladder is because we've been uninformed (of course hard work, dedication and talent are pretty much required too, but when I look back at my life, I think I could have at least cut down a couple of months or even years in my career, all because I wasn't informed enough).

When you're uninformed about the number of career opportunities or different job options available in the market, people tend to make the mistake of accepting the first job offer they get after college, because many fear they may not get another offer again. Such hasty decision prevents people from analyzing if that is the right path for them or not in the long run. And then once that hole is dug, very few tend to crawl out. All that could have been avoided had we been more informed and aware of our industry.

Would I start afresh if I had the luxury of such information at my fingertips back then? Today it is no longer a risk to start your own business venture. You have AngelList and other places where you can easily pitch to investors and VCs. You have hundreds of Start-Up accelerators and incubator programs. You have many crowd-funding sites to display your project proposal and convince others to believe in your product. And you can get information about almost anything now. The Google search of my days wasn't as powerful and efficient as it is today. Forget searching, today you have many reputed portals where you can ask questions about anything, and experts from different walks of life will answer your query and clear your doubt. You don't even need a LinkedIn profile to network with other professionals, Facebook can pretty much achieve that. The options are endless for the youth of today.

So yeah, maybe I would.

I would do things differently, which would have different outcomes.

But then again, it's a matter of "what if", so it's just a hypothetical question. It doesn't necessarily guarantee a better future.

And who knows, maybe these same batch of students who are graduating today would be bitching about the next decade's batch of graduates, calling them fortunate for being surrounded with new technologies that we don't have today, after all, technology is forever changing and improving. Maybe in the future, students can easily clone their bodies so they can attend multiple lectures and increase their learning and experience faster. Or an option to insert nano chips into their brain cells where an AI will take over their body during exam time. So many possibilities.

For now, I guess those are just the few thoughts that entered my mind when I saw those graduation photos. And you know what really grinds my gear? The fact that I don't have a single photograph of MY graduation!!!! Aaarrghhh. I don't have any photos of me going on stage proudly to collect my BE Computer Science degree from the Vice Chancellor, or any photos of me with my classmates in our graduation gown (it was yellow, and ugly) all because of the stupid roll film cameras. By the time the films were developed, everybody had already vacated our college hostels and left for their respective hometowns, so there was nobody I could get a copy from. Frack you roll film.

Maybe in the future, some of the next generation college graduates will build a time machine as a college project and go back to my Convocation and take a photo of me! :)

Until then, cheers.


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