Sailing Victoriously Through The Rough Patches: Satyajit Mahapatra
Treading the “not so taken” path and exhaustively hard working, Satyajit Mahapatra has been one gem of a person. Infamously famous for holding some of the most sought responsibilities, he has ensured to beat all odds to emerge victorious at the end. Dedication and commitment to work hard have kept him going all along. In the most exhilarating journey of BTech life, this person has claimed many accolades to his credit. Meet Satyajit Mahaptra, the mentor of Monday Morning, the Placement Coordinator for the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering and the jack of all trades.
1. CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
MM: Walk us through your childhood. Share with us some memories of your life before NIT Rourkela.
Satyajit picks up a line where he narrates how his beguiling air of innocence suddenly paved way for his notorious activities. He used to be constantly pointed by and caught doing mischievous acts by his teachers. They would make him stand in class and enquire him about his grades. Since he always occupied those top positions, he often escaped from their wrath. He then narrates about his life post-matriculation.
Satyajit Mahapatra: I was born in a small town in Ganjam. However, I have spent a major part of my life in Cuttack. I completed my schooling from D.A.V. Public School, CDA, Cuttack. I had always been an academic-oriented person with little or no time invested in extracurricular activities. Having said that, I was always someone who created trouble and escaped punishment owing to my academic performance. I was no exception when it came to decisions post-matriculation. I was given an option to choose between CBSE and CHSE. No one earlier in my family had opted for CBSE and my parents were thus quite apprehensive regarding me treading that path. Even I thought for a while for opting CHSE, thinking that will offer me more leisure time as attendance was not strictly followed in government colleges. Simultaneously there was also a discussion whether I would appear JEE immediately after the completion of my higher secondary or take a gap year, prepare myself and appear for it. That was indeed a tough nut to crack because I was the incipient in appearing for an exam of stature like JEE in my family but then decided to stick myself to the CBSE curriculum hoping that I would learn from something from the school curriculum. I had it in mind that I would focus on my CBSE percentage till class 12th and then move towards JEE preparation. Thus, I was very punctual and sincere until half yearly in 11th. I topped my midterms in 11th and felt really great upon that. However, at the same time, I felt had this feeling of discontentment when I came across my batchmates who were preparing for JEE. One of my friends had recently joined Amogh classes and I was really amazed at his understanding of the subject and his approach towards problem-solving. This compelled me to give a thought that both of us receive the same lecture from the same teacher, yet the way he approaches problems is quite different and novel. My friend Sovan was the one who inspired me to start preparing for JEE seriously. At that time resources were quite limited at Cuttack when it came to preparations for JEE. So I used to get myself tutored under the guidance of my school teachers until 11th half yearly. Later I changed all my tuitions and shifted to a small coaching institute called Shiksha JEE for mathematics. It was mentored by a professor called Naik Chand who himself had failed in clearing past JEE Mains. He thus made it a point to assist students to clear through the JEE exams. Initially, my parents were hesitant to send me off far for attending tuition classes. It was a quite hectic schedule as I had to travel a really long distance operating between different modes of communication. At times the tuition hours would stretch long. Still, then I used to attend all my classes. When the results were declared I had scored a meagre 70% at the end of the 11th. It was quite a drop as compared to my earlier performance and that again stirred up the debate about prioritising JEE preparation and CBSE exams in my house. However, I remained resolute on my decision to wholeheartedly prepare for JEE.
A Replica of the Young Isaac Story:
He goes on to narrate what happened following his disastrous results in class 11th.
SM: I then started skipping school in Class 12th of which my parents were dead against. I had made it a point to showcase my true potential and backfire on those who had doubted it and had tried to lower down my morale. When I say this I refer to those teachers who had questioned my efficiency in cracking JEE when I had left their tuition classes. We had a group of friends who blatantly disobeyed the rules and paid no attention to the affairs taking in the class. All that had been imprinted in our minds was that we have to show them our true calibre. There have been multiple instances where notices mentioning the low attendance were sent to my parents and I have signed them by myself about which my parents have no idea until now.
Like young Issac being kicked by a bully in his school inspired him to conduit his spirit and resolution, it won’t be in denial if we say that those demoralized words were the cause behind the tapping to his highest potential and proving them wrong.
That was a period of struggle Satyajit had to traverse through. Given the fact that he had a lot on his plate, striking a chord between everything was indeed a herculean task. Internet back then was a scarce resource and materials were not easily accessible. Chand sir has been the “catalyst” in realizing his dreams of JEE as he used to make all kind of materials available to him. In the end, he turned out to be the only one from his batch who made it to NIT.
The journey from Mining to Meta:
MM: How did NIT Rourkela happen?
SM: After JEE, I calculated my marks and through a rank predictor came to know that I won’t fetch a good branch at NIT. However, much to my surprise a few mistakes in the question paper earned me some grace marks pushing my rank just high enough to get Mining Engineering in my fourth round of counselling. I never liked the concept of being a Miner and was quite disappointed when I got the branch. I was seriously considering my decision of whether or not I wanted to join NIT Rourkela. I then went up to Chand Sir and expressed my dissatisfaction because at the least that I had wanted to get into Chemical Engineering. He then helped me understand that NITR if not anything was an opportunity, a platform to grow myself regardless of the branch I got into. That is something I have always used as motivation. Thus, I joined here in Mining. On my first day, I was unable to decode the time table and called my Faculty Advisor for guidance to which he replied rudely that I had to figure it myself. His repulsive attitude was one of the reasons that made me hate mining even more. Then spot round occurred and my branch was upgraded to metallurgy. I was pretty excited when I got metallurgy. The advancements in nanotechnology always attracted me. There was no cable connection in my home and Doordarshan was the only channel that I got. There was a show called Manthan which was aired during that time which portrayed the latest advancements in Science and Technology in collaboration with the German government. Advancements about nanotechnology and allied areas intrigued me and I always wanted to try my hands on them. When I got Metallurgy I thought I would be able to learn about them but things didn’t pan the way I had expected them to.
2. MONDAY MORNING CALLS:
Satyajit has been associated with Monday Morning for the past 3 years. His journey at MM kicked off as a reporter, followed by the Chief Coordinator and finally the Mentor. He had many anecdotes to share with us how MM happened to him and how it has been instrumental in making him the person he is right now.
MM: Tell us about the most coveted journey of becoming a reporter for MM.
SM: Till the culmination of 1st year, I wasn’t a part of any club. I was still academically inclined by heart. I hadn’t fared well in my 1st semester and I was thus determined to perform well in the 2nd semester. MM induction posters were out by the end of the 2nd semester. I still remember the posters consisting of 4 quadrants depicting the superheroes of Marvel Universe. Until then I was misguided on the concept that MM was a propaganda paper being run by the administration. Just prior to the inductions there was an announcement about the freshman conclave. I vividly remember Anurag Saha Roy was addressing the crowd. He was such an enigmatic and charismatic speaker that it provoked me to think that if I don’t become a part of MM then purposes might not be served. The persona of the seniors intrigued me to give it a try.
The written test questionnaire was quite lengthy. Since the frustration of a freshman had mounted upon about life at NITR really hard on me, I got an opportunity to rant about it. In my second task, I had to interview Anurag Saha Roy. The background research about him was mostly from his facebook page and I had missed quite a lot of detail about him. I ended up asking very general questions like his views on the institute, where the institute needs to improve among others. My club review was Heartbeats. Since Sachin Nambiar hailed from Cuttack and he was a good friend of one of my seniors, I approached him. He gave me a write up of some few lines which I submitted as the club review. This sums up my Task 1 and Task 2 in the inductions. In doing this, I had missed the deadline for the submission of the task. The night I was compiling the interview, I received a mail that the deadline had been extended. I again approached Anurag Saha Roy, asked him about a few more details and submitted the task.
Then there was the interview round. When the first question was asked as to what I knew about Monday Morning, I stood there for a few minutes and then answered: “Monday Morning was founded by Premdeepan Nayak”. Prem Deepan happened to be a final year mentor of Monday Morning and coincidently he was in the adjoining room. Immediately, my panellists called him and made quite a joke about it. I felt really embarrassed there. Upon being asked about my favourite section in MM, I had replied ‘Live’ and my reason is that because it highlighted the placements of the institute, it gave me the motivation to be on track and prepare focus diligently on my academics. My answers were very childish. Everyone laughed after hearing my answer. I felt really bad and I was actually frustrated by then. After hearing my CG of 7.7, the smirk which Aratrika didi gave further even lowered my morale. I had been absolutely sure that I would not get inducted into it. Surprisingly when the results were out, and I had been selected. Till this day, my induction interview is long-standing in MM inner circles.
Satyajit in his tenure as a reporter of Monday morning has penned some highly commendable articles. His journey has been quite interesting. He narrates more about his chronicles as a reporter of MM.
MM: Tell us about your favourite article.
SM: My first article was a TIIR review, for which I worked with Mitesh Mishra (Chief Coordinator, 2016-17). I had done quite an extensive background research for the article for which I was quite appreciated in the first team meeting. Those few words of appreciation which were then quite rare in our batch motivated me. I had a good start to carry things forward.
Regarding my favourite article, it was the one where we had to interview AS Kiran Kumar, the then Chief of ISRO. When I came to know that he would be coming for the convocations through SK Patel’s Facebook post, I texted Mitesh Bhai and said that I wanted to do the article. He gave me a green signal to go forward. I and Anubhav were allotted the article. Although it was a 20 odd minute interview, it was really good.
My 2nd favourite article would be the Innovision Post Fest Article. That year’s innovation was very organized, though not the best. I roamed around the campus in those 2 days and prepared a questionnaire of about 30 questions. Aratrika Ghose, Abhishek Panda and I went for the interview. Aratrika didi went through the questionnaire and said “30 questions. Good work!” Every time someone complimented for the efforts I had put in, my morale was boosted by some 100 times (laughs). The interview was an eye-opener one. Our counterparts were bent upon proving their stances through false claims and Aratrika didi was efficiently battling them. I presented a couple of claims which I was pretty sure to be true. The interview overall was a productive one and a good article came out of it.
Another article was one which I would adjudge as a very interesting article instead of my favourite article. Abyakta, Swetaparna and I were allotted the Infrastructure review article. We had to interview Prof. CR Patra who had been denying interview for the good part of a fortnight. We convened for the interview at his office. CR Patra declined from recording the interview and asked us to keep our phones on the table. We agreed in the affirmative. In the meanwhile, Abyakta and I had turned on the recorder and everything was recorded. He had bought a sheet where details of all the ongoing constructions were recorded. There was a water treatment plant about which no one was informed. I went to the Engineer on site and collected as much information as I could. CR Patra had asked me for the rough draft which I had web emailed him. After going through the article he asked as to why I had mentioned everything so much in detail. I said that I would look into it. Later in the night, group webmail was circulated regarding the water treatment plant and that students would be able to avail the privileges if it in due course of time; in order to gain credibility before the article was published.
The Print Issue:
For the print issue of our tenure, we were allotted an article about SAC structure and review. We were mentored by Megha Agarwal and Andrew Jose Ignatius Milton. We were asked to review the SAC structures of different IITs and NITs. I communicated with then VP of IIT Kharagpur gymkhana. He gave me a great deal of information. I then went on to find out about the same as NIT Trichy. We brought into light the loopholes that had been plaguing the SAC system and why they demanded reforms. We presented the importance of independent conveners for different fests as it is now. As our mentor, Megha added some last-minute changes to it, reviewed the title and it was indeed a good article which was published.
3. THE CHIEF COORDINATOR CHRONICLES:
Satyajit had been one of the three CCs for the academic year 2017-2018. He had been instrumental in implementing a lot of things such as establishing Soap Box for elections, handling SAC because of the new reforms that had been introduced, mini issue and print issue. His journey had been quite bumpy as he often hit the road, was at loggerheads with SAC and had to adjust to a not so MM friendly administration. He narrates despite all insurmountable odds he faced in his tenure as the CC, how he managed to ultimately make things fall in the place they were supposed to.
MM: How did you become the CC?
SM: Well there had been multiple instances during casual conversations one of CCs would be like “You are working so much, do you want to become the CC?” In one such interview, Mitesh bhai had asked what the full form of CGPA was. I instantaneously answered “Cool and glamorous professors Adda”; none of my co reporters could do that. Mitesh Bhai complemented me saying that I was MM’s GMAT. Why my knowledge about MM enhanced so much was due to that fact that I had done a lot of work in my summer when I got into MM. The fact that my co reporters had a broader dialect, were well versed with English, were acquainted with the club culture poked me to improvise myself in different spheres of life. I had made it a point to learn everything about MM and I had invested a lot of time in there. We had a task where we had to read the CC interviews. Those interviews really inspired me and I thought maybe I could lead this organization someday. I also knew at that point there were many other people who are far more capable and eligible than me to lead the organization. The nominations were called in during January. I had nominated others but I didn’t nominate myself.
My CCs called me after the nominations and asked me as to why I hadn’t nominated myself. I answered that there were far more eligible and qualified candidates than me who could lead the organization. Moreover I had to prioritize things other than MM in my 3rd year. My CCs were like “nominate yourself and then we will see”. I nominated myself and went on for the next few days that followed. At that time I was not even aware that I had to give an inteviewto becomea CC.
One fine sunny Friday afternoon I was called for the interview. I was in charge of the branch farewell back then. I got a call from Mitesh Bhai to BBA and was like we will conduct your CC interview. The first question they asked was why I want to be the CC. My answer was it is because I will miss Monday Morning. A lot of my answers were ridiculous and painfully short. For the questions that followed only expressed their discontentment and frustration. They asked me to switch off my phone for the next few minutes. Barring a couple on instances, I did not think, I ever performed satisfactorily in my interview. After that interview I was pretty sure, I was not going to be made a CC.
On the day of commencement, I asked Mitesh Bhai as to who was going to be the CC. Since he was very professional in this front, he said that I would know when it was time. When the results were declared, first Debashish’s name was called. Next, before my name was called, Aratrika didi said “I don’t know what it is. We are having a gamble. Let’s see how it works”. Just then 2 things popped up in my mind. 1st thing was that I was really happy that I would become the CC. 2nd thing was if they do not bear that trust and faith in me, why did they make me the CC. Are they having second thoughts about making me the CC? With these mixed emotions, I walked up to the stage. After the commencement, I went up to Anshuman Bebarta’s room and shared with him this thought. He just said me one line something that got me going every time, you are already the CC. You do not need to think about who said what. If you love working for MM, then do so without thinking too much about it. That was something that kept me going throughout all my bitter patches as a CC.
MM: Tell us about your tenure as a CC. What do you think were your best achievements as a CC?
SM: A major revamp was undertaken in SAC structure; the year we became the CC. MM was scraped off from the title of an independent body and was brought under the Literary society. Our CCs had financed the commencement party. We had to clear the bills and cope up with the new administration. CCs are not trained, unlike reporters. It is like you are thrown into a pool and you have to learn swimming all by yourself.
Before departing for summer vacations, all 3 of us held a meeting and chalked out plans for the upcoming tenure. We gave the summer tasks to the reporters and alongside carried out other duties as well. The main issue which we faced was the communication gap due to which differences started occurring between us and I felt we were not having a good equation with each other. Instead of crediting each other for what we did, we started discrediting for what we could not do.
When we came back in July, our bills were actually processed through SAC. Debasish had run to SAC for numerous times. Every time there used to be one reason that there are no authorities. There was a time we felt so frustrated that we were like to give up. Our SAC funding head was changed. Prof. Japes Bera, being the outgoing SAC President made a herculean task of us to clear the bills. There was a time when I had to literally sit down in his room to write an application requesting him to clear the bills because he kept rejecting our applications numerous times.
Just before reopening of the institute, Abykata came back and we sat for deciding about the mini print issue. We spent a lot of sleepless nights in Sidharth Samal’s room to get the designs done. Considering the responsibilities of a CC, these were the additional responsibilities that we were endowed with. The mini print issue was one of the major influencers of MM in our year. Abyakta, Debasish and I unveiled it during the institute orientations. I recall when a few of the students used the map printed in the mini-issue to navigate through the campus. It was indeed a warm moment for me as the CC.
After the mini print issue, we had to head towards another direction. Because of SAC restructuring, the elections were delayed. So, in discussion with our mentors, we decided to conduct a SoapBox. When the elections itinerary was released, I went on to Prof. SN Alam who was the then election officer and asked that there was Soapbox mentioned in the itinerary; was he aware so as to how to conduct it. There was huge publicity for the soapbox. We invited all the VPs of all societies. We also called up all the contestants. It was mandated that those who fail to turn up for the event would be disqualified and wouldn’t be allowed to contest the elections. Flexes were printed and BBA was booked. The major disappointment was the meagre turnout for the event. Soapbox in its essence was really good. All the contestants turned up for the event. They shared their vision and ideas what they wished to implement. Ex post holders were also called to discuss their ideas. There was this one candidate who did not turn up for the event. When this issue was reported to Prof.Alam, he very blatantly told us that his candidature cannot be cancelled although he had promised on the contrary. The irony was he hadn’t attended the Soapbox thinking that he would be disbarred but he was instead allowed. It was very disappointing to see that despite we putting in so much efforts students were least bothered about making SAC better.
Another major takeaway from my CC tenure would be the introduction of the new selection procedure for the student representative to the Senate. I remember Mitesh Bhai and I were having a discussion with the director regarding some issue when the Registrar walked in with the list of toppers whom he had chosen as the representative to senate and ISDC. Following this, the director asked us as to what would be a better means of selection for the student members of the Senate and ISDC. Upon this, we convinced him to select candidates based on their merit and past experience and follow a diligent interview procedure for the same. Mitesh Bhai wrote a draft mentioning the eligibility criteria and selection procedure for the Senate and ISDC which was later approved by the Director. Mitesh Bhai and Nishant Thacker went on to become the members of the Senate and ISDC respectively.
Proposal for Budget from SAC:
Prior to the tenure of Satyajit as a CC, there was no budget allocation from SAC for MM. He goes on to narrate how they made it possible.
SM: That very year, SAC’s total budget was reduced. And as CC, we had no clue as to how to plot a budget at SAC. So, for the budget, we included everything, added camera, tripod stand, dictaphones and all. We put a quite extensive budget. Posters were presented in quite a long frequency. We were expecting a budget of 2 lacs and we got the budget of 1.25 lakhs because even D361 was getting the same and Prof.AK Rath sir was our Faculty Advisor as well as the VP. When it came to contesting for the budget in the literary society, it was MM and D361. Our faculty advisor was also the VP and D361’s Faculty Advisor was also the VP. Swayambodh Mohapatra was the Dean’s nominee for Literary Society back then. He was a good friend of both Arindam and Anshuman from D361 and here me and Abyakta from MM. What they thought best was to allocate the same amount of budget to both the clubs. D361 had no other expenses apart from the print issue but we had many other than the print issue.
MM: Tell us about the Print Issue of 2017-18.
SM: We started prepping up for the print issue. One fine night, all 3 of us were summoned by Aratrika didi and Mitesh bhai with our print issue ideas. We had only 4 ideas with us and we went to them with those ideas. They expressed their dissatisfaction as to only 4 ideas would not work and that we should have at least 10-15 ideas to start with for a print issue. We were stuck as all the major ideas had already been taken up earlier or were deemed unfit for a print issue. Then all of us 3 CCs sat and we browsed through the issues of student media bodies of different colleges for inspiration. MM always had a stock project, which charted the growth of the institution since its inception. We decided to encompass that project as our centre page article. It was a huge risk for us because we needed an exhaustive amount of information and facts to pile up the article together. The second idea that we planned to work out on was gender inequality, which was again borrowed from one of the other student media bodies. The third emphasized on evaluation processes in different institutes and the last one was our original idea and that was the declining club culture at NITR.
Abyakta was looking after the gender and growth article, I after the evaluation and Debashish was looking after the club article. The articles were ready but we wanted designs for witsdom. We were already behind schedule and were into the last 10 days before the release of the print issue. At the same time, Siddharth Samal, our design coordinator broke his finger and our work came to a standstill. Out of options, I and Abyakta finally went up to our design mentors, Sibasish Mohanty and Venkatesh Mohapatra to help us out with the designs. Debashish, Abyakta and I had already had spent several sleepless nights for as long as 5 days straight. We only had 3 days to print around 6000 copies so that we would be able to distribute it on 20th January. To our utter dismay, we realized the heart of our PI i.e. the infographics of the growth project article were completely out of sync and overriding each other in the first test print released. We could not allow such a misprint to sabotage our entire PI. Thus followed a series of desperate phone calls and some string pulling at the printer’s place in Cuttack to ensure that the print issue came out on time. We finally received the PI copies on the afternoon of 19th January. We noticed the freshly minted pages were fine while the rest had a grainy tinge. We did not expect this to happen to our PI as we had high hopes and we could not see it as an excuse to lower the quality of our PI. Yet, we take pride in ourselves in the content of the articles like the growth project, gender inequality, etc considering we were hounded by several constraints. I remember, the Director of the institute calling up Abyakta after the print issue expressing and dismay about the actual number of female students in the institute. In the end, we felt satisfied with our efforts having experienced all kinds of emotions ranging from sadness to happiness. Being a MM CC was tough, no doubt about it. But at the end of the day, it was all worth it.
4. PLACEMENT COORDINATOR TALES:
Satyajit apart from serving as the Chief Coordinator of Monday Morning is also serving as a Placement Coordinator. Since his achievements cannot be contained in this prologue, he goes on share with us in detail about it.
MM: You have served as the Placement coordinator. How tough was it getting into the wild card because you had a controversial entry?
SM: In my pre-final year, the application for the Placement coordinators (PCs) came up. During that time, I was the Class Representative (CR) of my branch so all the information pertaining to internships were being passed down through me. a lot of information was coming through me. My senior Abhijit Anand who was the then Placement Coordinator asked and motivated me to apply for the same. At that time, I didn’t have a lot of idea about the roles and responsibilities of being a placement coordinator. When the first set of tasks had started to come in, I was simultaneously already preoccupied with the Annual Print Issue (PI) of Monday Morning. I was supposed to collect the details of the placement scenario in IIIT Hyderabad which was a kind of place that kept no public records so eventually, it became difficult to get the required information. One of my seniors from FSAE, N. Mithun Babu was pursuing his Master’s degree from IIIT Hyderabad back then so he supplemented me with the details of the college’s basic recruiters, which however was inadequate. By the time I had decided to start collecting information, I realized the futility of performing a balancing act amidst this task and the Print Issue. Even I had surpassed the deadline for the submission of the task. The work of Print Issue turned out to be a bit too hectic and eventually I backed out from the PC race.
My life always has been on the grace of second chances. During the month of March, the wild card applications for the process were invited. Abhijit once again asked if I was interested to apply again for the post. By that time I had a fair idea about the process, and the responsibilities as a CC had drastically reduced too. By then, the Print Issue was done. Debasish, my fellow co-chief coordinator was looking into the MM commencement program and inductions. So this gave me extra space to start with the PC intern tasks. I did all my tasks diligently and even submitted them on time. The interview went on really well since I was accustomed to such stress-interview process through MM. Ultimately; I made my way into the Placement Committee.
MM: Considering the fact that you brought Tata Steel for FTEs for the mining department how would you describe your Placement Committee achievements?
SM: Being a Placement Coordinator, was very different from being a CC. The responsibilities of a placement coordinator carry a lot of weight and a small mistake can lead someone to lose a job. I would consider my biggest achievement as a PC to be the conversion of Tata Steel FTE. TATA Steel had always visited NIT Rourkela for internships and seldom visited us for FTE. At the same time, it was a regular FTE recruiter in institutes like NIT Jamshedpur and ISM Dhanbad, to name a few but not NITR. It was basically a tough chase and I had to deal with a lot of unprofessional approach from the company. After the internship drive, I persisted with the HR for an FTE drive. Fortunately, this placement season they fell short of vacancies in the Mining Engineering department and enquired from us the number of undergrads in the Mining branch. Tata steel came for only the Mining engineering students so it was a big opportunity for them. Considering the opportunity for Mining Engineering students, we decided to allow the whole batch of Mining Engineers to appear for the process. After the OT we never heard a word from them as they neither responded to the calls nor the emails and the texts. The entire process kept on getting prolonged. It was a helplessly frustrating situation even for the shortlisted candidates by the end of February. Then one-day Abyakta called up the HR, and when he did not pick up the call, sent him a text saying that there was urgency in the situation. He called back but at that time we did not pick up his call and then called him back having been assured that his phone was active. The HR then informed us told that he was going to quit the company so he was not able to keep up with this process and shared with us the contact of the new HR. Finally, on 13th March the final list was declared and two of our students got recruited while another one was shortlisted.
My other good converts would be with Accenture since it was opened to all branches, and for a software company with 10+ lpa for all companies was a good opportunity.
Working as a PC, was a huge exposure when it came to personal development. You develop a lot of useful contacts and come to know a lot of people. That, in the long run, is always a useful skill to develop.
TRANSFORMATION FROM CC TO PC:
SM: As the Chief Coordinator of MM, I learnt to be a bit more patient and as to how to talk to various kinds of people and handle situations as the Placement Coordinator. The most important part of being a PC involves motivating people which includes motivating your batch mates. You need to motivate the students who don’t get placed as well as motivate them to appear for the company’s selection processes for a job. The kind of work that the post of a PC demanded is very different from that of a CC. As a PC, you are entrusted with the task of bringing in companies and talking to people whom we are ignorant about. The gravity of the position of a PC is way more than that of a CC. Suppose there is a bad article, you can certainly edit and re-publish it but suppose you engage in one bad phone call and the company gets cancelled. In such a case, five people might lose a potential job offer and the damage cannot be undone. As a CC, I understood and appreciated the significance of honing responsibilities and also I used to be in highly stressful situations which eventually helped to handle that pressure as a PC. As a CC, you find less personal space for contentment. The only time you get contentment is when your tenure ends while as a PC, you find the same sense of contentment and pride when five people walk up to you and appreciate your efforts of getting them placed in the company that you brought in. I have greatly benefitted from the Monday Morning interviews I took that eventually helped me to handle stress efficiently.
5. THE ANOTHER SIDE OF “SATYAJIT”
THE INTERESTING TALES OF CC-PC GRADES IN OPEN ELECTIVES:
MM: Your OE grades read C, C, P, and C in your 3-6 semesters. Was it in store for you?
SM: I never really understood the chronology of the happenings. In my third semester, I scored 22 marks in mid-semester exams but ended up getting a C grade. Later I was intrigued by computer science courses and took up an open elective named Operating Systems. I also scored 18 or 19 marks in mid-semester exams and again ended up with a C grade. This was followed by my tenure as Monday Morning’s Chief Coordinator or ‘CC’. In my fifth semester, I had an OE named the ‘Physics of semi-conducting materials’. I had scored 21 marks in mid-semester exams. However, the night before the end-semester paper, I was completely clueless about the 9 chapters which I was supposed to read and consequently had a disastrous end semester examination. I finally ended up with a P Grade. Again in my sixth semester, I got a ‘C’ grade in ‘Chemical Kinetics’. So this is how my tenure as a ‘PC’ began. I still marvel at this mere coincidence.(Adds jokingly how he has got a ‘B’ grade in this seventh semester OE and about his apprehensions as to what is in store for him. )
THE “CHILLED” INTERNSHIP:
MM: You have got through the on-campus internship at CSIR IMMT. Please tell us about your experience there.
SM: By the end of the second year, I had realised that my branch subjects did not make a lot of sense to me. My sole plan was to study a few days before the exam, mug up a few things and solve the last three years question papers. So I wanted to do a pretty ‘chilled-out’ internship. A few of my seniors had interned there. I calculated my prospects of bagging an internship there considering that the toppers of my branch had already bagged an internship elsewhere. Few of the toppers opted out of the race so I was among the top 5 students of the branch to go there. Also, I had the luxury of staying at home in Bhubaneswar. I was assigned a guide from the Physics department named Prof Manas Ranjan Dalei. He was more interested in handling office politics than teaching me anything. At times he would ask me to read about Scanning Electron Microscope, Transmission Microscope, etc, but never assigned me any work. For the first five to six days, he would come to his chamber and make me sit there idle for hours while continually expressing his displeasure over my interest to join a job after graduation. After a week, my patience gave in and I straight away approached the HR department to change my guide. At the same time, Mr. Ajit Das who was the chief liaison between NIT Rourkela and IMMT was also there. He vehemently opposed my choice to change guides, but I persisted with my demands and insisted to move to the Process Metallurgy Department. When I bluntly put forth my arguments to Ma’am that I want to change my guide because he was not teaching or guiding me in any way. I also told her that I can work better in the Process Metallurgy department. The HOD asked Ajit to look into the situation. Now Ajit revolted and said that my guide is a good one with a number of publications in the past and so there is no need to change him. Then he asked me to contact the HOD of Process Metallurgy Department and promised me to change my guide if he accepts him as an intern in his department. Now the HOD of Process Metallurgy Department is an alumnus of the Chemical Engineering Department of our college. He asked me about my guide and the moment I mentioned my guide’s name, he agreed to change him considering the guide to be such a despised figure there. Then he asked me to assist Nigam sir in his on-going project and thus he became my new guide. Nigam Sir was an assistant professor who worked under Rath Sir, who was a friend of Professor S.K Sahoo of our department. So all such connections were lined up and eventually everything was sorted. So I joined my college friend Abhishek Patra who was also working under him in the lab. It did not demand a lot of efforts since we used to walk out of it after the second half of the day. With such flexible working hours, I actually got a lot of time to call up the companies in the summer as a PC.
In IMMT, I worked on a project named ‘Dehydration Kinetics of goethite iron ore’. It was a rare kind of ore to work with and also we used equipment named microwave furnace which was not available even in our labs. A lot of theory is thrown around in our labs during those three hours. I found it pretty interesting to carry out such practical work and also feel happy to have explored the practical aspects of my branch subjects. However, it did not change the fact that my branch courses did not interest me.
HIGHS AND LOWS OF PLACEMENT SEASON:
MM: You are placed at Vedanta. Walk us through the highs and lows that you faced during the placement season.
SM: The placement season has been a roller-coaster ride for me. PwC is the first company that I appeared for. 3 students from non-circuital streams were shortlisted along with 17 other students from the circuital branches. I regret not having devoted quality time to solving puzzles, case studies, etc. during my vacations. I was rejected from the second round of PwC US Advisory. Following PwC, I appeared for a few trading profiles, even though I had little or no interest in the profile. I still remember my interview with Futures First. My Personal Interview started with the question “Why Trading?”, to which I replied that I wasn’t sure of trading in the first place. Maybe if I had told otherwise, I would have had a fair chance. The interview was ridiculous and lasted only two or three minutes.
I failed to clear the OT or flunked in the PI for all subsequent analytics or software companies. I had high hopes on Deloitte, but that too did not allow Metallurgy.
In the middle of all this, Quantiphi came to the campus. It had an elaborate 7-round Online Test. I somehow cleared all of them, and in the interview, they asked a question that sounded so silly I didn’t answer it, despite knowing the correct one. I did solve a few other centre-of-mass puzzles but didn’t imagine the answer to this one. At that point I felt really low; a lot of my friends were already placed by then. All the non-core companies were over by that point, and despite the constant assurances of my Placecomm colleagues, I was quite disappointed with myself. The last company was Mu-Sigma which had a psychometric test, and I flunked it again. I was dejected to the point I was beginning to be unsure of myself.
I was handling Vedanta. On the day Vedanta arrived, an alumnus came up for the interview. I was pretty sure of not being selected as I had little to no knowledge in the core sector. During the GD, I spoke for just a minute and cleared it surprisingly. I prepared for nothing and went to the interview. HR asked me about my leadership abilities, and I just showed him my CV. He went through and was deeply impressed by it. He gave me some situational questions, and the HR round was straightforward too. While we crossed 500 offers that day, they skipped my name while announcing from the list. The alumni finally pointed out that my name was missed, much to my relief, ending a long ordeal of my placement season.
Maybe down the line, I would move on to some other option, but for now, I am happy to settle for this job.
I am trying to get a job in the Analytics sector, by references or by alumni. In case I don’t get another offer, I plan to stay in Vedant for one year, get work experience and go for an MBA.
FRESHMAN SATYAJIT AND FINAL YEAR SATYAJIT: THE TRANSITION
SM: As a freshman, I was very scared and notoriously academic-minded. My ideas of fun were childish, my exposure to extra-curricular activities was very limited. When I came here, I got a lot of exposure. I was so star-struck to be here, I spent a lot of time exploring the facilities and faculties here. I was disappointed with the 85% attendance but made sure to take part in everything, tennis, table tennis, hockey and football. Although all these didn’t improve me socially, and I still couldn’t appreciate and understand the benefits of senior-junior interaction and was scared of it. I literally ran off from my branch freshers’. When it happened, Monday Morning was a big influencing factor in my student life. I learned a lot of things, value ragging even, and understand the importance of a good relationship with faculty.
I realized the words of my school teacher in my second year—“Once you leave this place for graduation, there will be no one to look after you”. So, if not anyone I have to look after myself, and decide what I want to be in the four years. When I saw Monday Morning as a web-based organization, my interest in web-designing peaked, and I promptly took a course on web-design that summer. I learned a bit of Blender for solid modelling, a bit of Photoshop, posted my designs on Facebook. That curiosity was basically how my creative transformation happened.
I did a lot of things, not just because I wanted to do, but because I thought I could and also had the time to do it. My third year was a lot about realization and maturity, how your future is going to shape up. As a Chief Coordinator, I also had an extra bit of responsibility. I became more serious towards life; my idea of petty fun was changed entirely. I also made a lot of good friends at the end of the third year. The fourth year was quite laid back, and I was much confident now. That was the biggest change. People become competitive for jobs, and you need to be tough. In the final year, nothing else but you matter.
Today, Satyajit is one who has matured, knows when to be silent and when not to be, and one who appreciates the efforts of others. These are primarily the three biggest ways I changed over time. Wrapping up this interview with Satyajit, he shares some golden advocacy that he earned in the due course of his journey at NITR. He says
On a concluding note, people need to understand that NITR is less of an institute of higher education and more of a platform to learn better things, and grow. As a freshman a lot of people don’t have that perspective.
When you are in an institute of such repute as ours, four years is a lot of time, time to get good at anything. So make a wise choice as to what you want to get good at. Because that something will stay with you for the rest of your life. Make sure you focus on your dreams effectively in these four years and do things for what you want to be.
Team MM wishes Satyajit all success in his future endeavours!