No Fresher Jobs? Don't despair.

Let me guess, your parents spent a fortune on your engineering education in the hope that you will land a software job with one of India's top IT companies. To your credit, you actually managed to secure just such an offer. Except that your coveted offer is now on hold, deferred until 2009? Don't despair.

Where to Look?

Here are some lesser known sites that carry job postings for freshers in India.

http://www.myjobs-india.com/

http://fresherjobs.in/

Do a Google Blog search for fresher jobs.

Start small

A job offer from a big* software company is nice but after ten years in this field I can say this: such big companies are not the best place for your first job. You won't learn much and your mind will go numb doing some brain dead work. Big companies only provide an illusion of job security. A company that is doing well in the stock market (even this is not true at present) is not necessarily a great place to work. I know it feels nice when your relatives ask where you work and you reply with the name of a reputed organisation (Very good beti/beta, I am sure they will send you to USA in a year, hehe). But believe me, you are missing out on a lot of learning and fun. Instead, join a small company or better still, a startup - that is where you will learn the most and have fun. Keep a watch here: http://www.pluggd.in/category/indian-startup-jobs/. Of course, startups are often not keen to hire freshers unless you can demonstrate your skills.

Prepare for the interview

When that elusive interview call does come, the least you can do is to be well prepared. More unconventional advice follows:

The best thing about being a computer geek is that you just need a PC (or laptop) and internet to learn and do stuff. Here are some assignments to try at home. The skills/knowledge acquired by doing these will help you during interviews.
  1. Develop a Firefox extension.
  2. Create and host an application on Google App Engine.
  3. Develop an application for the Facebook platform.
  4. Develop a mobile app using Apple's iPhone SDK. or Google's Android SDK.
  5. Create a mashup using Yahoo pipes.
  6. Add more programming languages to your portfolio. Try Ruby, Python, Erlang, and Haskell. All these are free and open source.
  7. Try to keep yourself up to date. Follow the sites below. Never mind if you don't understand all the content. Google for it. Lookup wikipedia.

Now if someone asks you "Do you know technology xyz?" during an interview, you can simply provide a URL (link) to the application you have developed.

Expand your horizons. Look beyond the companies whose names you encounter regularly in the newspapers. Good luck.

* By 'big' company, I mean a company that has more than a thousand employees. Mostly, a company this size in India would be a services company (doing projects for clients). Startups are generally software product companies (though the product may be delivered as a service) and would typically be around ten people strong.

8 comments:

Saager Mhatre said...

Nice to hear from you again sirji! Although, once again, I drop in to disagree.

Given the current state of 'engineering' curricula and faculty, I wouldn't point feshers to a startup, or even particulary small organizations for that matter. Belive me, I've seen what happens when freshers build products! And, I've also seen what happens when a specialist goes the startup route.

Also, I wouldn't go so far as to say that 'big software companies' are a bad place to start. Heck, I stared at Kanbay, a good 3000 strong company when I joined and well over 5000 when I left about a year ago. And I turned out just fine. I realize you don't want the fresher-drive for innovation and ingenuity to be quashed by suit-policy; but ever since the effects of the dot com bubble sunk in, I think large organizations have changed. Another advantage of working in a large organization is that it helps you learn how to deal with other people's crappy software- maintenance is a teacher only bettered by experience.

And I soooo think people should work service companies before they do products, just builds better customer perspective.

To fresher's with defferred offers, relax! Being unemployed is a whole lot better than warming benches at TCS.

PS- as for Sriram's advice on what to do with your spare time, go ahead and follow it! But I'd advise you not to lose focus of your fundamentals, the languages will follow.

Sriram Narayan said...

@saager: Haha. Trust saager to come up with a counter argument. Fair points. I agree that it might backfire if freshers built products all by themselves. I was only advising them to join a startup - not run them. As for the 'learning to maintain software' argument, I've seen that one mostly only learns duct-tape-maintenance in large organisations. Anyway, I think it is a huge price to pay so early in your career. So many budding engineers end up want to move up the ladder and manage teams less than two, three years into their career - all because of the surrounding culture.

Saager Mhatre said...

@sriram: 4 years in Kanbay and I never really managed teams. In fact, I fought it strongly.

I guess that just boils down to your convictions and career plans. If someone just wants to get into management, I'd rather they move into a 'big software company', speed up the management ladder, crash, burn, and just get the h*ll out of the way! Better than having career coders around to muddle up the developer pool.

PS- duct-tape-maintenance can be a good skill to have, especially in agile projects when they might just prove to be the simplest thing that could possibly work.

Aroj said...

well..some of the things that actually work well for fresher joining a big company..

1. The training programme..though obviously its not spoon feeding..for a fresher who has never worked on something like Oracle or done programming in Java (most Mumbai Univ grads still code in Turbo C!)...the transition to the big professional world is that much smoother..and here i talk abt a technical training programme..not an orientation course..

2. Even in the big companies the actual code work is done by the freshers and people less than a year..the others are either abroad ( the much coveted onsite ) or are managers!

3. The rate at which these companies are growing..there are lots of projects, varied exposure etc..

4. The biggest disadvantage I see is that a big but good company has still far lesser density of smart talented chaps than say a smaller startup..

And maybe that's what can make all the difference..specially in a pair programming environment..where ur fresh mind can readilly absorb all the learnings..

Sriram said...

@Aroj

Good points.

1. The corporate training programmes are good and bad. Bad because they are often overloaded with sessions and assignments - a lot of freshers go through these programmes gaining some skill but near zero insight.

2. Yeah, freshers get to write JSP/ASP pages for 14 hours a day without any experienced programmers beside them.

3. The business model in most big companies is to get a foot in the door by losing money doing new development work (20%) and then sip revenues for the next several years doing maintenance on the resultant big ball of mud. This is what a lot of people get in the name of exposure

Great points about density of talent and pair programming. "andhon mein kaana raja" syndrome causes semi-smart people in big companies to have big egos which get pricked when they appear for interviews at better places.

Saager Mhatre said...

It's me again, with more counter... points <sidestep>arguments</sidestep>.

@Sriram

1. It's a question of feedback- if you think the training sucks, you let the right people know; if fresher programmes deliver duds, you let the trainers know what's missing; if the trainers don't listen, you tell staffing you're not taking those duds on your team! Well, I remember that worked at Kanbay. In fact we even interviewed external trainers to make sure they weren't going to waste the freshers' time and the Learning & Development group was all for it (although I don't know how far those arguments hold after Capgemini acquired Kanbay).

2. OK, I'm going to say it once and for all. IMHO, the whole pairing/mentoring/hand-holding thing is waaay overrated. The whole idea that freshers coding by themselves will end up with single JSP/ASP programs is a self-fulfilling prophecy; as you sow, so shall you reap- poor training will result in duds if your freshers are depending on the (inadequate) fresher programmes to teach them their craft. My question, and this goes all the way back to @Aroj's argument that big-company-training-programmes are an advantage, is why we're hiring people who don't know the fundamentals of their craft in the first place? Infact, we've taken this so far that it's become lore- So what if your B Sc (Comp) curriculum doesn't teach you Java, when you join [big-company] they'll train you. WTF! I know I can safely say that everything I learned, I learned on my own[1]! And that's the kind of people I like around me- people who can teach themselves stuff. I don't have time to teach you Ruby![2] But I will point out crappy code you write and if you don't fix it, I will.

3. I wouldn't say that's the de facto business model, but yes, there does seem to be a tendency to degrade to that model... very fast(!) My first project was 'maintenance and enhancement of a customized instance of LoanQuest for HSBC'. Now LoanQuest is a LOS built by MortgageFlex, an IT shop in Jacksonville, FL. A combination of lousy choice of technology and cowboy coding landed us a seriously huge ball of mud. But we made sure we made sure our code was as clean as we could get it. So, no we didn't degrade to that business model. However, on several occassions, our PL almost lead us to that model; and then we fought him- viciously![3] So, I guess the choice is your's. Heck, one of the UK based projects you worked on (and I'm currently working on) has serious mudish tendencies; it doesn't take a big-company-business-model to land that.


@Aroj

1. See 2 above

2. What makes you think that having freshers write most of the code is a good thing? I actually tried that, and trust me, it doesn't work. That's where the Ball of Mud arguments come in.

3. I think the focus of the post is the recession resulting in shringking/frozen job opportunities...

4. This one seems very seductive, but try putting that down in an answer to the question, "as a fresher, why do I want to join a big/small company?"


[1] NIIT just got me my first interview and most of the technical trainings I attended at Kanbay were an excuse to get away from duct-tape maintenance.

[2] Actually, I've had a whole bunch of people come up to me and ask me if I could 'teach' them Java; I even did an 'Introduction to' presentation at Kanbay. But, honestly, I don't know how to! How do you teach someone a language? A common technique is to build analogies to a language they already know. But, in my experience that breaks down real fast. Anyway, what really ticks me of is when people walk up to me and ask how to 'prepare' for a certification exam.

[3] This reminds me of something our Delivery Manager once told a couple of us freshers; he said (and I paraphrase), "As a fresher, you have the power to aske even the stupid questions and not be ridiculed for them- use it!" Hat's off Sachin saab!

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