No, I’m not commenting on the Mentor show, nor am I planning to enter it. This is entirely unrelated to any entertainment media, but as a guide to graduating students.
I’m still a newbie, being an employee for a year and a half. Life’s great, actually, although I’d prefer the life of a student nevertheless. With a salary sufficient for me to partially support my parents while owning a car and such. Yes, I do work over time (notice the space between ‘over’ and ‘time’ hence it’s not the pay-me-extra-to-work-after-hours overtime.), and yes, I do disagree (a lot) with my bosses. It’s just that I believe in whether you see the glass half full or half empty, it’s no use if you don’t refill it.
3 months back, I received 2 practical students to work under me. Having just finished my own practical training less than a year ago, I had thought to myself to empower (I’m amazed at my vocab!) these kids to better prepare them for the industry. Well, at least they got a suitable training post for their course (Programming), as compared to me (Multimedia) and have to do Sales and Marketing!
I don’t mind that, actually, since I got to learn professional/business communication first hand.
So, the first thing I asked these boys (my boss is reluctant to take in girls, maybe she’s jealous) to do, once they had their workstations set up, was to come up with a flow diagram for the programs they’re about to do.
You see, in programming, it doesn’t really matter what language you use, which version you have, or how good you are at singing. It all comes down to the basics: How well can you plan ahead your program. It’s much like driving to a place. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going, or the car you’re driving, or the song you’re singing, if you don’t know the road to get there in the first place.
You should at least have a good sense of direction, so you’ll know where to go next, and what to do afterwards. These kids, however, failed to deliver the flowcharts, and focused on the programming. I know, many do not plan ahead of their programs, but if the program comes out good the first time, the programmers must have at least done this before, have a good sense of direction in their head, or he’s Neo. Others, they’ll almost definitely crash and burn.
The result, is some misunderstanding as far as the task given is concerned. Many times do I need to sit with them, draw out boxes and cylinders and connecting lines, to show them how I think the program should run. I was hoping for a discussion, where they pointed out where I’ve gone wrong, or where things can be improved. Instead, I had to spoonfeed them, and so they just open their mouth and dutifully feed on my ideas, like how we were taught in school.
Although I don’t expect much from the program that they’re running, but I don’t expect more than just a bunch of cut and paste codes based on a spoonfed program flow. Reminds me of the time I taught C++ in my U (those poor kids) and how similar their programming assignmet codes look like each other. At least, if you’re cutting and pasting, do it on your own idea.
Another thing, I believe is lacking in them, is the capability to communicate. This has been a major barrier between fresh grads and good jobs, so now they are relying on the Government to again spoonfed them with jobs. 1st, the boys did not manage to communicate well with my boss, who’s a Hindi (you know, the likes of Aishwarya Rai and Pretty Zinta. Look like them too…a bit), and cannot converse in Malay.
Even when English is not used between us, they did not (yet) manage to convincingly present their progress. Here’s a tip from a professional ass-kisser: Progress report, no matter how small, must be larger than life, or it will be considered as no progress at all. You added a button on your website, brag about it. You used 50g less sugar when making tea, mention how much you can save the company when the sugar price rises. I think you get the idea.
I know, my bragging and self selling are still well below some, as some of you readers have experienced me sending in resumes and even interviewed me. But at least I have the basics, and I’m going (hopefully) the right way: Upwards.
Oh, communication is not only limited to the bosses and your surroundings, You must also know who to communicate with your source of knowledge. Our main source of knowledge, was the Internet. And with this vast source in the tip of their fingers, they had trouble finding answer to their problems.
Yes, I know not all can be answered using the resources of the Net, but when I solved the problems in a matter of hours, where they have been doing it for the whole week, things don’t shine too bright for them. And to add salt to the wound, I’m a beginner in Visual Basic programming, and yet, I solved the problem I gave them to solve. And they have the VB boldly written in their resume as being diploma level.
It’s maybe that they’re just not focusing on the work, since it’s just an industrial training. But hear me, those who’s going to do theirs soon. This is the first step (for most) in the real industrial world. If you’re already good in what you do, you have a jumpstart to achieve your financial goal.
Other’s maybe are still looking for jobs, filling online application forms, and going for interviews, while you, had you excel in grabbing your bosses’ heart, are now either a probational staff, or a permanent staff. While others may still be interviewing or living out of the measly pay they may have during probation, you’re already awaiting your next salary increase for the next paycheck.
I had to say to fellow students, or those still looking for the perfect job, please perfect yourself on par with the pay and job you seek. I believe in a simple calculation: Your pay is a third of what the company earns out of you. If you alone can make a RM9,000 product in a month, you’re worth RM3000 to the company.
I may not be a perfect candidate for other high-paying jobs out there, but I believe at least someone need to say something to the students, to better prepare them for the harsh new world, and even harsher men fighting within it.