Pankaj Seith graduated from IIT-Delhi in 1990 and from IIM-Ahmedabad in 1992. He worked for Hindustan Unilever Ltd and HDFC Life Insurance before joining the Hindustan Times Group in the leadership team as Vice President – Consumer Insights. Here he advises IIT freshers.
When I joined IIT, most of us hardly knew people who graduated from these premier technical institutes. So we navigated our way through the classes and the labs based on our instincts as well as some inputs from our seniors.
After spending 4 years in IIT-Delhi, here are my two cents on how to make your journey in the college fruitful as well as enjoyable. Others may have different views and those are perfectly OK as well.
Grades do matter as you will have to mention them on your CV so you must keep an eye on doing well and try your best. This will be a mix of studying daily and during exams as well - and today's youngsters are better prepared for the rigours of an IIT. For those in the higher ranked departments, like computer science, it is useful to build a good CGPA in the first year as the subsequent one will get more competitive.
Extra-curricular activities are another area to participate in. This will help you build people skills and also make your journey in the campus more enriching. You can dabble in a mix of sports and cultural activities in the second and third semester of your first year and then decide what you want to focus on in the subsequent years. You must also try to hold a leadership position in a team by the third year or so. All this will help shape your personality and get you ready for the corporate life.
My third advice is to keep a disciplined schedule by balancing your classes and extra-curricular activities. You will have enough vacations between semesters when you can enjoy so it will be a good idea to stay focused during your semesters. Stay focused and positive - attitudes you already have - and keep strengthening them keeping the future in mind.
However, don't forget to have fun with friends. This could be indulging in some games, extra-curriculars or general gupshup. Friendships forged during this phase will add to the joy of this journey and can also be helpful in future.
Last but not the least - as they say - it is important to figure out your future plans by keeping in mind the things that appeal to you and the options available for someone like you. Start keeping an eye on this from the beginning of your second year and develop a clarity by the end of the third year. Some of you may want to do a job, some may go in for an MBA and yet others will like to go for higher studies abroad. Interact with seniors, who are at least a couple of years ahead of you, to know about the available options and figure out what resonates with you the best.
And, my advice will also work for those who will join engineering colleges other than IITs !
(The views expressed here are personal.)