Solve hard problems for doors to open

By Prof Pankaj Jalote,

Most students in technical education programs – B.Tech. or M.Tech – hope that at the end of their education they will either get good placements, or get good options for higher studies.

For a job in a company what is looked at is the student’s understanding of various subjects, skills in programming, design, circuit building etc. and also the ability to use the knowledge and understanding for problem solving. The company will conduct multiple rounds of interview trying to test your knowledge and skills. It is after this that they will fix up your remuneration. It is with the expectation that as an employee you will generate 3 times more the value they pay.

For higher studies, particularly for M.S. and PhD., the main assessment is whether the student has the capability to do good projects and research. For this, you need a decent CGPA. But that’s not the only criteria. They will also look at the projects you have done, and papers you may have written. Letters of Recommendation (LoR) written by professors are given a considerable importance as well – and a faculty member will give a strong letter only when he/she has seen your hard work, sincerity, commitment, and delivery during the course.

What should you do so doors for exciting opportunities open in the final year?

It is always the most inviting option to solve easy problems, develop simple programs and circuits, learn enough to just pass the tests and just do what is asked for.  With limited effort for learning and taking initiatives throughout the course one cannot develop their proficiency. They can work just enough to get a task done.

But the real road to success opens when as a student you have attempted to solve hard problems, developed deep understanding of subjects, built interesting software system and programs. Basically taken the initiative to not only work but work hard during the course. A student who has shown this approach to the course has the benefit of being a great employee or a meritorious Doctorate student.

The difference lies in hardly working and hard working. And the choice that you make as a student.

Finally, if you want to do something worthwhile in your student life you need to reflect and work towards the level of effort, approach to learning and the level of engagement throughout the course. Resolve to take the pains to achieve the desired abilities. Write them down – post it on your laptop, make it your wallpaper, or do whatever is needed so it serves as a reminder. And then follow it relentlessly.

(Prof Jalote is Director Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Delhi and this article is from his blog