While getting into a reputed Engineering college requires a considerable amount of toil and hustle, one more struggle begins once you make it into an Engineering college – one that is a different ball game altogether. The 1st year at college is all about exploring places and people. But once you settle in, college life moulds your vision in a way that your thoughts become more “Future” oriented. Suddenly you start thinking “What do I want to do after this?”, “Do I want to work?”, “What will it take to get to my dream job?”, “Do I want to continue higher studies?”, “What will it take to get to my dream university?”. While all these questions are different, there is one common element in every question - Grades.
I still remember the day when I was not allowed to take the Infosys aptitude exam because of fewer marks in graduation. They asked for > 65%, I only had 61 % to offer. That's it, a blunt rejection then and there just because I had fewer marks. Obviously, I cursed this system of marks and waited for the next company to come and got placed eventually. But two thing remained with me. First, I have 2 semesters left. Let’s score good marks now and give a boost to my overall percentage. Second, that moment of rejection I got because of my marks and not my skills.
I don’t blame the system. Obviously, companies are looking for employees who are street smart but they also need a uniform way to compare these employees. “Street smart” is not yet measurable and no matter how valued the trait may be, it is not a common ground to compare people on. Hence, recruiters, more often than not, fall back on grades as a tangible and measurable trait. Many companies usually look for at least consistency, if not a hike or an ideal GPA. Hence, the first goal of an engineering student should be to achieve consistency. While an upward hike in marks is always appreciated, a downfall in marks may lead to… A downfall in impression! Most campus recruitment companies have a general criterion of scoring minimum 55-60% throughout engineering. Not just Campus Recruitment companies, but also Universities for higher studies require certain academic parameters and standards.
This 60% is not that difficult to maintain. I will tell you how you can easily maintain it. First, you should try to score really well, say > 80% in the 1st year because most of the course material is what you have studied in class 11th and class 12th. For the next 2 years, you can try to maintain an average of 60% (from 3rd sem to 6th sem). Now when you come to the final year, 7th sem can be a tricky one, but you can manage that by scoring in the 8th sem, which is easy because of seminar and projects.
That’s it, you have 60% on paper without much of maggu life and rest of your college time you can devote to internships or research papers, apart from fun, of course.
So what else should you focus on?
Research papers always add brownie points to your resume and can never go wrong. They throw light upon the fact that you are not only capable of finding solutions to problems but are capable of thoroughly understanding a problem first - which is a step that many people miss out on.
Extracurriculars are really important because most recruiters these days have a common question in their heads which goes something like, “What ELSE did you do during your years in college?”. And to answer this, you will need your resume to speak for itself. All your internships, extra projects and all kinds of experience will matter here and may even end up giving you an upper hand over someone who did exceptionally well academically but doesn’t have much to tell about his or her extracurriculars. This is, of course, very subjective and depends on which company or university you are dealing with.
To conclude, I would like to reinforce the fact that the years you spend during your under graduation are crucial and play a key role in deciding your career. The idealistic way to approach the career/academic future is to strike a balance between grades and extracurriculars, because, while grades indicate your academic and theoretical capabilities, experience proves that you have put these capabilities to practical use.
Student of Life. Part Timer.
Guerrilla Activist when it comes to education and sports.