#1 Myth Regarding a Computer Career

It is this time of the year that frustrates me no end. Time when the 10+2 students need to opt for a career path. Inadvertently all and sundry who have secured 60% and above opt for a career either in medicine or engineering, given the society trends. Of the lot that opts for engineering, more than 50% would already have decided to pursue a job in the booming computer science field irrespective of which branch of engineering they have secured. With all this in place, I usually have a stream of visitors who drop in with their parents and guardians with a single query in mind. Though worded and mouthed differently, all of them convey this

"People of late have been saying that the computer industry has already reached saturation. So think wisely before you send your ward off to engineering. Who knows whether the industry will be flourishing by the time he/she passes out of college"

It beats me as to how people turn so naive as to believe any Tom, Dick and Harry's views on the computer industry and worry themselves to death. When I question them as to who mentioned so, I get ridiculous answers. "Our college principal told us" ( The college principal is a Sanskrit professor ) or "My neighbour warned me" ( the neighbour turned out to be a hotel owner ) or "My friend, a local press correspondent happened to mention about bad times ahead for the computer industry" ( turns out that the so-called press correspondent happens to be a small time reporter who covers local events in the town and who incidentally does not even know what an e-mail address is ). The most amazing one and common one is where the people quote with all seriousness their computer tutor, having asked them to reconsider their decision. When I investigate who this person is, it is almost always the computer teacher from the local computer center who has reconciled himself to teaching BASIC and FORTRAN all his life to students who unwittingly join his institute. Some even go to the extent of pointing out examples of students who finished a degree in computers and yet are jobless. A background check reveals that he has never even made a honest attempt to find himself a job or that he was pushed to learn computers following his parents dictum.

Gosh !!! People are indeed naive and gullible and ...I am at a loss for words. I don't blame them. I just blame the meteoric rise of the computer industry in India. Being bitten by the meteoric rise and fall of the Indian Sensex, the layman can be excused for his mistrust on anything that has gained center stage so rapidly.

I take different approaches to convince people that the computer industry though booming will never all of a sudden disappear into oblivion. The global economy, society, man's luxurious ways are too potent a force to allow such a thing to happen. My debate starts with a question that tries to draw their attention on the all too obvious. Something like this...

  • Didn't you see Narayan Murthy's concern about lack of work force in the newspapers yesterday?
  • Do you think the world will one day decide to just shut down all computers and decide to go back to stone age ?
  • Do you think that the people in the developed world will suddenly take a decision to accept salaries that Indians are paid and avoid further outsourcing?
For people who flash the "I am unconvinced" look on their face, I persist...with more sublime questions.

  • Will you stop using Microsoft Word one fine day and announce I am going back to the typewriter? That might be a strong reason for Microsoft to stop working on new software and cut down on its employees.
  • Will you accept if your bank decides to switch back to the traditional manual teller and withdraw its ATM services?
  • What if Airtel, Spice, Hutch and BSNL stop their mobile services and ask their customers to revert back to land line use?
My whole attempt is to get them to realize that the computer industry is here to stay albeit a few ups and downs. Most people realize the folly of their uncalled fears and beat a hasty retreat.

For the ones who still refuse to accept the stark reality, I serve my punch line that catches them totally off guard. I look into their eyes and ask, "Do you actually believe what your friend/neighbour just shot from his mouth?".

The majority quickly take refuge with an understandable, 'No'.

For those who answer 'Yes', I indicate that the conversation has come to an end with, "Medicine I feel would be a better option for your ward...'coz the doctor's profession has shown itself never to die as long as there are humans on this planet"

They get the message.


Bit Hawk said…
Nice article Vijay!
I can still remember the time of 2000-2001 when people used to say "Computerru biddoythanthe" ('Computers are out') - Yes, it does, if you dont have a good table for it!!
And many people used to suggest to do engineering in electronics and do computer courses 'outside', which will give them best-of-both-worlds.
Forget about a hotel owner or a sanskrit professor, I knew people with more than 10 years experience in IT industry, who used to say "Atleast for another 10 years, IT will survive". And I used to wonder what could be the reasons why it may go off after 10 years.
IT jobs may change dramatically in the next few decades, into something we cannot even guess right now. But, I am sure the industry will survive forever, unless some deadly disease comes up with will kill people who use computers :))
spidy said…
same thing almost happened 2 me,
i was pretty naive after my 10+2 and someone said 2 me tht computer syllabus ain't that gr8 u should either opt 4 mech,electronics or may be even instru.

however as fate had it , i went in computer,
and 2day realise how lucky i'm 2 be associated with field.

computer rocks and will contiune to do so
Roopa said…
Nice Article at the Right Time !
Rajit said…
I concur with you, IT has changed the way of life, it cannot go back to what it was before....like your previous post mentioned, it might flow from a pot at higher level to one at a lower level, but IT is to stay.
raghav said…
cool analysis..nice one
Allwyn said…
gr8 post man,I have also heard so much anit -BSC IT-computer engg stuffs..i wish all those anti geeks read this