Is a career in IT born out of a passion for technology or is it merely a lucrative decision? A conversation begins…

BC: Hi, you look deep in thought — surely your generation has an app to do that for you.

AD: Just finished a weird call from a potential client who asked me to go through her website and wanted to know if I found it really interesting.

BC: What's wrong with that?

AD: I cannot reveal details of the client's operations, but assume that they are into creating software that handles patient monitoring and insurance processing for hospitals... How can something like that ever be of interest to anyone?

BC: How can a tech fan like you generalise a statement like that?

AD: Look, I can imagine being in love with technology that creates a new operating system to challenge Windows or a new search engine that can pose a threat to Google — or even a new social networking site that will give Facebook a run for its money — all $70 billion of it.

BC: Let me then rephrase my question — if you are not in love with your job, how can you do it well?

AD: What about IT careers, for instance? Are you telling me that students join IT companies and BPOs because they are passionate about technology?

BC: Well, you've got to ask them.

AD: Think of all those chemical, civil and mechanical engineers in IT handling completely unconnected careers... Why did they study what they did? Why did they then make the shift?

BC: For the same reason that an instrumentation engineer, after two years of B-School, chooses to sell soap?

AD: But...

BC: So why do you think most youngsters choose information technology as a career in India?

AD: IT companies hire en masse — I've read articles about entire batches of engineering students recruited by IT companies.

BC: How can that be a reason for choosing a career?

AD: You can't blame students for wanting to feel secure right after college, can you? And most IT companies conduct campus interviews in the final year, so...

BC: ...students have a job even before they pass out!

AD: Right. Pay scales are another reason. Compared to typical engineering jobs in the manufacturing sector — be it in an auto-ancillary unit or a chemical plant — the IT sector pays better.

BC: Why is that?

AD: For one, the IT industry earns primarily in dollars. So the project that you’re on earns your company a lot more in terms of billings and profits than, say a batch of cam shafts or spindles of yarn. Hence the rewards are bigger too.

BC: I guess the responsibilities and the pressures involved must be as high.

AD: Sure. Another factor influencing this choice is exposure. IT takes young employees to other countries, widens their horizons, and even gives them a chance to settle abroad... So I'll be incredibly surprised if someone were to tell me that all these students took up IT jobs solely because of their love for technology.

BC: So what did you tell your potential client?

AD: I didn't say much, but the point is, if her job didn't give her American clients and dollar billing, would she be doing back office jobs for some hospital abroad?

BC: I guess not. But there’s an easy way to find out if she’s truly in love with that kind of work.

AD: And that is...?

BC: Find out if she grew up dreaming about creating payroll packages and patient monitoring software ever since she was five years old.

sureshl.india@gmail.com