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Correspondent – Rahul Maganti

A short introduction

Zishaan Hayath, IITB: 2000-2005
Dual Degree Civil Engineering
Overall Coordinator, Techfest 2004

Now and Then

We oldies are entitled to a bit of “now” and “then”, aren’t we?

A lot has also changed between 2005 when I graduated and now. I have recruited from IIT Bombay between 2007-2012. I can say with a fair degree of confidence that the quality of a median resume in 2011-12 was way higher than that of the top resumes of 2005. I have also recruited at IIT Kanpur and BITS Pilani. I can also say that the bottom 25% of IIT Bombay resumes are better than the top 25% of IIT Kanpur resumes (it was a nightmare for me and my colleagues to sit through the IITK pile of applicants). Not to say that either institute has the better students – I think IITK~IITB – but IITK resumes really need improvement. This all leads me to believe that placements now have become extremely competitive. And anything that can differentiate you from the crowd or provide an edge is closely fought for.

Back then, we had it easy. McK and BCG were the only two consulting firms. ITC was the third company to come to campus. No banks. One or two foreign placements. Back then, we called them “insti posts” and barely used the word “POR”. For example, in my placement resume, my work as Techfest OC, Techfest Manager etc. was bundled in a section called “Extra-Curricular”. We also had far fewer posts (no ISHA’s & ISAA’s, no department fests, no convenors, no cells). The desire for the insti post came less from that “resume bullet point” and more from what we liked to work on.

How was it to lose out on an insti POR?

In 2002, I contested for Insti Lit Secy during my second year. I really wanted to be the Insti Lit Secy. I campaigned hard. My opponent campaigned hard too. He was a friend but a weird temporary rivalry crept between us during the elections. I lost by a margin of <100 votes. When the results came out, it hit me that I didn't completely control the things I wanted in my life. People consoled me that my opponent had 200 more people in his hostel and that it made all the difference. I felt I was okay and will handle the defeat. I went back to my room to sleep. I couldn't sleep. So at about 2AM, I went to H9 to see a senior friend. He was not at his room (I think he decided to spend the night in his CS lab). Then I suddenly started crying. I realized I never wanted anything this bad. And this made me cry more. Around 6AM, I fell asleep in his room crying. The next few days, I moved around like a zombie - eating less, smiling less. It always feels like end of life when you want something bad and don't get it. Parts of the above text is from my Quora answer.

My key takeaway was: The world doesn’t care about your notions of what is fair, right, and should be yours. Deal with it.

What happened next?
Well, life moved on. One night, I was walking on the road between H5 and H8. A bike braked beside me (yes, students had bikes on campus) and the guy said, “Chal baith.”

I asked, “Kahan?”


It was my Techfest manager chat (now it’s an interview, I guess). I joined the team and had a thrilling third year organising Techfest 2003. I made a great set of friends. At the end of third year, I was talked into becoming the OC by my team-mates (like pretty much all OCs before me were talked into taking up the position). I had a fabulous fourth year and made another great set of friends. Insti colors and citations happened. In my fifth year I got recruited by ITC and I’d like to believe that Techfest helped me get shortlisted.

But it did not end there. Beyond campus, I’ve stayed friends with my Techfest teams. We’ve attended each others weddings across India. I started a company with another Techfest OC (and we had no overlap on campus). I’ve invested in startups along with my team-mates. In the mornings, I run with 3 guys who were team-mates. Our spouses are now friends. We meet for dinners at homes and I get to play with their kids. They occupy substantial space in my life. And my life is more beautiful with them around.

All this is 11 years after I organised a college fest as a 20 year old.

But the fact is: I never expected to be the Techfest manager. In my second year, all I wanted was to be the Insti Lit Secy. I did not see Techfest coming.

Arey kehna kya chahte ho?

Wait for serendipity. I have a few regrets from my IIT years. Not scoring a higher CPI is one of them. Losing out on an insti post is NOT one of them.

So here’s what I am saying:
1. Don’t work for the sake of resume (too short-term)
2. Work for experience and love
3. And life will take its own course; be prepared to go with the flow