Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Advice to the Class of 2016

I had a chance last week to interact with the campus grads. joining my organization. It was more of a fun event with the Engineering Directors and towards the end, each Director was asked to give some piece of advice to the engineers on the first day of their jobs. There were some brilliant pieces of advice given by my colleagues and I did share few points from my side that I intend to share here. By nature, I am not the one to initiate giving advises unless asked. This is certainly not because I don’t want to help people but more so the realization that the engineers who have cleared such stringent selection process are smart and can be trusted to seek help when they need. Other aspect that I am mindful of is also that unsolicited advice (that’s given without being asked) is usually ignored and tends to project the advice-giver as someone superior, which I certainly not want to be seen as.

Here are my piece of two advises (given I had 2-3 minutes to talk) I gave to class of 2016-

Snapshot “First day of the Career” mindset:
As you will start working from next week, you would be dealing with Virtual Machines and Containers while working on engineering tasks. One of the interesting features that Virtual Machines and Containers have is creating infrastructure is the snapshot. The snapshot feature is most useful when you want to preserve the state of the virtual machine so you can return to the same state repeatedly.

Unfortunately our minds do not have snapshot feature and I would have so dearly liked it to have. But hypothetically if it had snapshot feature, I would have requested all of you to take snapshot of your current mindset, and asked you to retain it for future.

Being at your situation years back, the first day a job mindset is something like-
1.       All of you have a Beginners mindset. You are not afraid to try anything new and also not bogged down by thoughts/processes of the past.
2.       You have a positive fear that is leading you to think that you need to do well in your jobs.
3.       Passion to do well for yourselves and the organization.
4.       Very high energy/enthusiasm and motivation.

I bet to you- if you are able to retain this mindset every day, every hour till the last day of your career- you would have surely achieved something significant in your lives and careers. Just try and snapshot and use this state everywhere, especially when things aren’t working for you.

Software Engineering is a Team Game:
Second point, I believe all of you are special and very talented to have been selected to drive Citrix’s future. All of you would be looking to contribute individually towards the success of your respective products and Citrix. One thing that I wanted to share with you was to never forget that Software engineering is a team game. In order to win this game, in addition to being very strong Individual contributors, we need to be world class team players.

I admire Rahul Dravid as an outstanding Cricket player, but more so for his selfless display as a world-class team player for Indian cricket team. He said in Harsha Bhogle’s book-

“the team is like a pot. Some people put into the pot, others draw from it. Who puts in and who takes out depends upon the people as well as the moment. Ultimately, a team that has more people putting in rather than taking out is a happy team, a team more likely to win.”

So, please do remember this. As this quote says and I figured out personally by experiencing- one of the great ways to being a world-class team player is focusing on giving back to the team be it knowledge, a helping hand and voluntarily finding opportunities to help. Give back more than what you take from your team members.
School/College tests usually do not measure:
Creativity, Vision, Teamwork, Integrity, Grit, Passion, Empathy, Loyalty, Endurance, Humility, Compassion
But your success in organization will more depend upon how you master these skills in addition to technical skills. So, while you chase your individual glory, please remember that- individual successes alone don’t make organizations great but when team succeeds, organization succeeds.

What advice would you give to smart engineers on the first day of their jobs ?

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