The Clock Stops Ticking!

Abhay Jain, a resident of Hall 3, was the President, Students’ Gymkhana, 2012-13. He is currently working at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan. One fine day, Karan Deep asked Abhay to write for Vox and he pleasantly agreed. Meanwhile, we also picked up some pictures from Abhay’s album depicting his IITK journey.


Can achievement or failure be described as ephemeral? I don’t reckon that the i-pod was the last or final product by Apple. Nor do I believe that Thomas Edison locked himself in his room forever because his teacher told him that he was “too stupid to learn anything”. I’ll reiterate what has been said a million times and ignored a billion times, success is a continuous effort where you learn from your failures and get motivated by the rewards you receive on the way.

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The journey in IIT starts as such reward. People around us are full of praises for our efforts. Life looks easy and many of us mistake this start as the destination. At best, it is just a new turn in the journey of life, one that comes with a lot of opportunities to explore. Take this from me – these four years will just fly by, as was the case for many of us. However, in my four years over here, I learned that each second spent in vain was a second not spent at all.

Everyone has different priorities, different ambitions and different skill sets. So the duty of realizing these rests on one’s own shoulders only. Don’t beat your head if you don’t know the answer to the classic question, “what do you want to do 10 years from now?” or what do you want to do in life?”. For many people, the answer to that question might not be clear. But what is absolutely imperative is that one puts in the best efforts to figure these answers out or try to get a sense of what one wants to do in the future. One simple way is to start off by eliminating the things that you don’t want to do. and you might just stumble upon what you want to do in the end. And while doing this,  you would have learnt and experienced hundreds of things on your way. Even if you look at it from a resume/profile building perspective, you are in a win-win situation.

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Let me narrow down a little bit more and converge towards what is required to be done and what we are doing. Let’s start with your daily life. An average day can be spent by sleeping for 8 hours; attending lectures (labs) and/or studying for 7 hours; eating, shower and other daily work for 3 hours and lastly let’s assume 3 hours for any extracurricular activities. This will leave you with 3 hours for yourself. I would consider this a day well spent. But what do most of us really do? I would say 8 hours sleep, 3 hours lectures, 2 hours daily activities and 1 hour extra-curricular. Leaving 10 hours at your discretion which are spent very effectively answering the “Which harry potter character you are?” quiz on Facebook and / or diligently surfing through some practical knowledge bank reliving the days when reproduction chapter was taught in class 10th. Obviously, the timelines or activities can differ to a great extent depending on the person; however, the idea remains essentially same.

This is the time when the clock stops ticking for you but time continues to pass by. Once that phase is gone and we are standing at the edge of the mountain named career, we start thinking to ourselves whether what we have done is enough or not. And mostly the answer is not in our favour. So now this leaves us with only two options, learn from what all others have gone through or go through it all by yourself to draw similar conclusions. For those who wish to choose the former, I would like to give some pointers which might interest some of you.

  • Use websites such as Coursera, Edx and Udemy. These websites offer courses and specializations in y a lot of fields that might interest you. The certifications (not necessary but definitely a proof of your authentic efforts) can also be acquired at reasonable rates or even for free.
  • Learn MS excel (It is one tool used by every company now a days). Start by getting informed about various functions (inbuilt programs termed as “function” in MS excel) and getting acquainted with developer mode in it, which is linked to macros. Not knowing excel won’t hurt you. But knowing it will definitely give you a big edge because all companies rely heavily on excel programs.
  • Those who wish to become the corporate players in future, learn the so-called “corporate sports” such as tennis, snowboarding, skiing, golf or billiards (or any of its form). These are the basic social links in the corporate world.
  • Try to learn a foreign language. Use foreign language classes held in IIT. A bilingual (or in our case trilingual) person is considered a very big asset in the current global market and also, it helps you to learn about a new culture which broadens your general perspective.
  • Try to visit a foreign university for a conference or an exchange program. It will not only increase your technical knowledge but also provide you good exposure.
  • Invent something. It can be anything such as business idea, software, material, or a new product solving any problem. This option will not be so readily available once we start the daily routine of five days a week job.
  • Give back to the society. As a responsible citizen we should always help those in need. This help can be anything such as donating the extra food in your mess or spreading awareness about environmental causes.
  • Lastly, Build memories. You will never find such wonderful and immensely talented people so easily around you outside campus. Friendships nurtured here will go a long way and it does not require much.

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Don’t take this as a prescription. One could define his life in terms of different priorities and hence different activities. This extract that I have shared is with a bit of a pragmatic touch. It is in my perception a productive way of spending time. I agree, It is easier said than done but in past many have managed to do just a part of it and achieve great heights.

Before I end I will re-emphasise something for I have seen people go miserably wrong. Your CPI might not be the correct judge for what calibre you hold but it definitely says whether you were able to do the single job that you were entrusted to do in IIT. There have been cases when a person with low CPI (CGPA) has landed in some premium job. Having said that please be very clear that these are exceptions and if everyone could have done the same then there won’t be any exceptions. Genuine and continuous efforts inevitably will translate into a good CPI (CGPA) or higher skill level for which the concerned company will want to have you. Nothing can compensate for your efforts. So please do not while away your time lazing around, it will prove to be very expensive later on.

Work hardstudy hard, play hard, it is your time. You can spend it wisely or scatter its ashes in the holy Ganges (ironically the barrage is nearby too). My suggestion: Don’t let the clock stop ticking.

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