Life outside the cocoon
Reviewed by Jayanti Roy

What I did not learn at IIT — Transitioning from Campus to Workplace
by Rajeev Agarwal 
Random House. Pages 194. Rs 150

THE lament of corporate employers of brilliant students from universities and engineering colleges is that these graduates are unable to cope with pressures of corporate life. They do not communicate effectively, lack interpersonal skills and manners and do not manage stress. These disabilities, in extreme cases lead to alcoholism, substance abuse, disturbed relationships and even to suicides. 

What I did not learn at IIT — Transitioning from Campus to Workplace
by Rajeev Agarwal Random House. Pages 194. Rs 150

Till our previous generation, it was assumed that no added skills are needed as one moves from being a student to being an employee, that the transition happens automatically. This no longer holds true. Packages that our pass-outs are offered are huge and so are the expectations of the employers. One needs to learn several tricks of survival at the workplace. This stage coincides with taking major decisions such as marriage, family, money etc. and further impact our effectiveness. Though education institutes provide opportunities and exposure for diverse learning but it seldom readies the student for the real world. As the author puts it — these were important lessons that he did not learn when he was a student.

In this short book he has given crisp advice crystallised from 30 long years of his professional career, first as an employee of important companies and then as a successful entrepreneur. The book is thus a ringside story and not just armchair preaching. In seven neat chapters, he deals with the issues of managing work, personal effectiveness, health and money and it finally boils down to seven simple yet significant decisions that make or break our lives. He weaves in his experience as a student of small town Shahjahanpur, moving on to IIT Kharagpur and this establishes a quick bond with the reader who can relate to his transition. His observations on multitasking, use of mobile phones, peer pressure etc., highlights common but faulty assumptions of young employees which usually remain hidden and hence ignored. Examples of this effective strategy recur throughout the book. For example, discussion on “Success in projects differs from success in exams”, differentiates between projects and exams and then goes on to explain that as a result of these differences, many a time, an individual with an average academic record can indeed be more successful. This busts the myth that academic brilliance automatically translates into career success and brings the reader down to earth. His use of simple language is effective.

Eagerness to share his life's lessons comes across. The eight appendices, including a master checklist, are relevant and helpful. The book is useful in the transition from campus to workplace. Employers can understand young employees. It is also a guide to smoothen wrinkles that form in the work-life balance sheet of our lives.