Choosing your first job in Software Industry

Choosing the first job has always been a tough question for the techies at premier institutes.

Things to ponder – Notice the use of the word choose

With industry showing a positive outlook

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ok, spring has returned for “jobs@campus”. It is a happy problem to solve but is trickier than the traditional ‘how to find the first job?’

First job has a deeper impact than what initially appears. It serves as the foundation of your professional career. Students – fresh out of college students are like unmolded clay. They have the potential to be carved into whatever figure they are directed to and first job has a major contribution to it. And as evident, with passing time, it becomes increasingly difficult to break the cast once created and re-define career goals.

Now the philosophy stated above can make “choosing your first job” a real challenge. So what do we do? We can always take help of Google God! There is a lot of material available on the net on career help.

Things to ponder – Do these really apply to your situation?

I would refrain from commenting on any of these lines. (Status update – No Comments!). I would, on the other hand, like to highlight the absence or scarcity of information availability during “decision making” at campus.

Going into a flashback (Please do not picturize a black’n’white Era). The situation has been more or less same since I graduated from IIT Guwahati in 2001 (See I told you I’m not that old). Major decisions were taken based on:

1. Salary packages
2. Company’s marketing
3. Crowd following (Immediate picture in my mind – a recent ad on TV showing the Bhed – Chaal)

I found that the basic essence of why I chose to be a computer science engineer and not a doctor (against my father’s will) were missing. I still did not have an answer to the obvious question – Why did I choose this job? Adding to my thoughts-conflict were these frequent dinner table quizzes on Product Company Vs. Services Company and then the age-old confrontation of a large organization Vs. an MNC.

Things to ponder
– Startups unfortunately were not even discussed in dinner-table discussions!!

10 years down the line, a lot has changed. People are more connected thanks to the social networking revolution. Indian product startups are no more a fairy tale. India has emerged stronger on the global IT map. But sadly, the decision process of the youngsters has not changed much.

I still haven’t come to the point. Okay now let me clear out the clouds – The idea of this article is to present to the youth the inside story of product development and its impact on their career so that they may take informed and better decisions. (If only we had such community service in our college days, my own Product Start-up would have been a reality much earlier).

Now some serious Things to ponder –

The figure below shows a comparison of largely accepted product development stages on basis of perceived value and cost associated in getting it right.

Architecture: Architecture is the foundation of any software and hence is very critical for any product. Synchronous Vs Asynchronous communication, development and deployment stack, SOA, MDA are some of the concepts which if got wrong, undermine the product scalability, flexibility and overall development time in the long run. Google’s small soldier army and Facebook’s MySQL db layer are some examples of architecture which made the difference.

Design: A right design not only captures the application business case entirely but also provides necessary agility and flexibility required for today’s dynamic businesses. Concepts like SOA, MDA if used with proper design of services, business objects, interfaces, platform selection etc. covers almost half of product development from the value stand point.

CUT: CUT stands for Coding and Unit Testing. It is the bulk of the time and cost in any product development cycle as it translates the architecture and design into byte code.

Certification: After the CUT is completed product enters into the final stage, which encompasses final business integration testing, packaging, licensing. Being the interface with business, it is very instrumental in shaping up the product and realizing dollars.

Above metric provides the logic behind the current landscape of Indian Software Industry which is largely Outsourcing dependent. CUT being the most costly and less valuable operation is the default choice of outsourcing.

Outsourcing to countries like India where software development cost is in ratio of 1:5 and an assuming overhead of 2.5 times levied due to processes (six sigma/CMM etc)/communication etc, it is still beneficial by a factor of 2 with less overheads to the North American companies.

What do you need to know and understand all this?

Let’s now try to understand the impact product development lifecycle has on one’s career and map the same with the opportunities available. The picture below shows the categorization of Current software development opportunities in India. From a career stand point, individuals should make an informed choice after evaluating merits and demerits of each.

OIT deals with IT implementation/integration. Mostly the assignments involve delivering a solution by integrating lots of technologies, communicating with the customers and make it happen. There are very less technical challenges and in many cases individuals are directly billed to customers for services. Head count matters. To lure good candidates these companies offer fancy salaries, onsite assignments etc. Since there is a compromise in learning and challenges, the growth later stagnates.

Story is more or less similar for OEC. (My) Head counts. Since the task is to support or customize a product/service and there are SLAs attached, the processes are heavy and demanding. The task at hand is akin to train-spotting i.e. monitoring large deployments and managing them. There is no better example of ‘process are meant to kill humans or build faceless organization’ then OEC/OIT.

Of late ODC has been a much-hyped phenomenon in India where in large claims are being made by companies – of moving up the value chain from being cheap labor provider to partners in product development. This is indeed good for India. From a career stand point, it means that CUT is being outsourced and you would have to work on the blueprints from the American bosses on their technologies.

PDC – Though very less in number but recently some companies like Google, Yahoo, Amazon have started serious product development in India (5-10% of the team) by closely integrating these teams with their research teams. There are also few Indian product startups trying the same. Learning and challenges here are a part of life, ensuring long-term growth and enjoyment.

Things to ponder – Now, How do you want to shape your career?

Let me summarize like this – If you like challenges and want to stand out with your technical skills, there is no match to the opportunities at PDC. It not only helps you to make the best of your technical skill and grow them but also nurtures entrepreneurial and innovation skills. You should be cautious in deciding the opportunity, as not all options from a product development company would encompass the exposure to the development stages discussed above. For instance, testing profile in Microsoft or Google is akin to an OEC/ODC profile.

Let your pursuit for the choosing the right first job continue and make sure you do not settle for anything lesser than what you set out for.

I opted for PDC and am proud to be a part of Drishti-Soft. What are you pondering over?