In year one, freshly-minted software engineering grads look forward to a promising career in IT services. They survive gruelling training and wait until they land a marquee client.

So far, life is good. Even when on the bench, salaries are credited to their accounts.

In year two, after 12 months of training and working with a few clients, they are more confident and at ease. Their job is to complete the assigned tasks—be it writing code, monitoring a process or testing. No need to be extra curious to figure out the why’s and what’s.

In the third year, resisting the startup lure, if still in big IT world, they work ridiculous hours. In the hope of being sent on-site, like the colleague who went last year. A promotion is usually due. The personal to-do list includes scouring career websites.

By the time it’s the fourth year, they become like those robots in the movie I, Robot. Installing regular updates in their brains as they upgrade their knowledge of the new tools depending on the clients’ requirements. Still dealing with a small part of a larger problem, they somehow make things work. The motto is to make money and be at peace.

From years five to seven, the bosses reward the consistent performers; for their sheer perseverance. They become team leads. Their first step towards managerial roles. Chin up and march ahead. Doing more of the same.

Between the eighth and tenth years, swamped under larger teams and clients’ whims and fancies, it is time to take up more functional tasks like risk analysis or resource planning. Manage and monitor more, code less.

Ten years and beyond, engineers no longer code. It becomes a skill on LinkedIn. Now deemed experts, they settle as managers, happy to finally arrive at mid-management.

The fallout

A visible fallout of joining IT firms is there isn't enough room to be creative. Or learn cutting-edge technologies. Or both. And when IT firms face a skills crunch, they roll out re-skilling drives

That’s more or less the first decadal lifecycle that millions of software engineers in India brace themselves for as soon as they join the workforce. A visible fallout is there isn’t enough room to be creative. Or learn cutting-edge technologies. Or both. And when IT firms face a skills crunch, they roll out re-skilling drives. For instance, Infosys, alone, released and redeployed 9,000 people in 2016. Now, it also runs programmes for employees on the bench to build an entrepreneurial mindset. This massive talent deficit within, which the firms are grappling with, is it a problem of their own making?

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both”

The first thing a software engineering graduate thinks about is securing a stable job.

AUTHOR

Moulishree Srivastava

Moulishree has over five years of experience in journalism. In her previous assignment, she was a Principal Correspondent for Business Standard where she wrote on technology and telecom. Prior to Business Standard, she was at Mint, where she wrote on various subjects — tourism, hospitality, real estate, science, cyber security and technology. Moulishree graduated as an engineer in Information Technology from Chandigarh Engineering College. She worked as a software engineer briefly but then took a detour and got her journalism degree from IIJNM, Bangalore. She will be based in Bangalore and you can reach her at her first-name@the-ken.com.

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