public or private?

How I let go the dream of a government job and found happiness

Have you heard of the word "Ikigai"? It is a Japanese concept which is used to describe things that give one's life meaning and purpose. When I think about Ikigai in work, there are 4 boxes that need to be ticked off - Money, you need to be paid well according to the work that you do; Job satisfaction, you need to enjoy your work; Service, your work should benefit the public; and Necessity, the public requires and wants what you do. Enough philosophy, why am I even talking about this? Let me give you the backdrop first.

I hail from Bokaro, aka Bokaro Steel city, in Jharkhand. It is a major industrial center where literally everyone has a government job in SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited). As a result, it is a hub of engineers and IITians. When you grow up in such an environment, you want to do that very same thing from childhood itself. Fast forward to a few years, I was having my lunch in the mess beside the K block hostel in MIT (Manipal Institute of Technology, not Massachusetts) when a guy asked me what my dream was. To let you know, MITians generally come from well-to-do backgrounds and have dreams of settling in any of the Western countries. I did not dream so high, all I wanted at that time was a government job in BSL (Bokaro Steel Limited) that would pay me 50000 a month and I would be a happy man. But again, why am I telling you all this?

I have this Telegram community which is full of interesting people and even more interesting questions. A great guy named Vinay once asked me, how did I let go of the dream of having a government job, and let me tell you, he did pull a lot of my heartstrings with that question. I felt nostalgic and actually started thinking about the answer, how did I drop the plans of a government job and became happy in my current life. And this is where the thoughts have lead me to. Now that you know my background and my dream, I will try to explain the answer taking the help of my idea of Ikigai.

Back in 2012, I had received a package of 10LPA from the college placements, which was the second-best in my batch. Preparing for a government job at that time meant 2 more years of study and 2 more years of extra pressure on my father. I did not want to do that. It did not make sense to let go of what I already had in my hand to pursue something that would lead me to a lower salary of 50000 per month. You can do the math yourself.

After the "Money" round, public - 0, private - 1.

I used to read a lot on Quora in 2013, and the major writers at that point used to be ex and current IAS and IPS officers. There was one thing that they used to consistently talk about - how smart students get frustrated in their public sector jobs because they are unable to show their full capability and unable to bring change to the society because that is how the system and the work culture is, and I believe we all know about it. This is in complete contrast to what I currently do at Microsoft, or used to do in Cisco. The people in these organizations are among the smartest that are out there, and debates and discussions in the office are absolute fire. You want to go to the office and not run away from it, isn't that what we mean by job satisfaction?

public - 0, private - 2.

Due to the very same system and work culture issues in the public sector that we just talked about, government officers are unable to impact society as much as they have the potential to. I am training and placing students in top-notch companies through neoGcamp and roc8. My work at Microsoft impacts millions of lives every single day.

private again wins the "Service" bout and the score now stands at 0-3. I don't think I need to tell you now who the clear winner is. I found Ikigai, peace, happiness, and satisfaction, in a private job.

This was my story and we need to thank Vinay for bringing it out of me. It was not one moment but a gradual journey. Just in case you are interested in hearing the full story in much more detail, you can find my podcast here: https://anchor.fm/tanaypratap/episodes/Hindi-sarkari-naukri-k-sapne-dekhna-kaise-chhoota-edc9hs, it is in Hindi. And if you want answers, my Discord group is open to all: https://bit.ly/team-tanay.

Turning the table

I absolutely loved reading your answers to the last newsletter and hence, I plan to ask more questions. Hope you all don't mind, and here it goes! Choose whichever option works best for you.

I have said n number of times that the hiring system in India is broken. How can I help you gauge it in a better way?

  1. Talking about how to extract the best feedback from the recruiter after you take the interview

  2. Explaining the recruiter's point of view and what they are looking for.

  3. Something else, Tanay. (It would be great if you could specify in the comments below!)

I hope to write through this newsletter more regularly, and your love and support push me further. If you like the content, subscribe, share it with your friends, and spread the love on social media.