Life is short, life updates even shorter

A few words about the coronavirus and work-from-home thingy situation. Life is a struggle. The article is going to be a series of rants about many unrelated things.

Today was the first day of (online) classes, and I have to say, it felt a lot different than I’m used to. The reality hit me hard, and frankly, I had a moment of realization about how much I miss campus. I miss the library, falling asleep in KD, the cafe where I got most of my work done, and in general being around people. I miss the cheap coffee as well. Trust me I tried making coffee at home, but it doesn’t have the same feeling. There’s just a different sort of emotion involved in sipping coffee as fast as I can, burning my tongue while rushing to the lab or lecture hall. If allowed, I’ll prefer to be a student all my life. Of course, what is going on around the globe is beyond my control, and there’s nothing much I can do about it except practice social-distancing, take precautions when going out and save a few dozen lives. With everything going on around me, this is probably not the best time to be alive but 👁️ 👄 👁️

With the final year kickstarting, there’s the eternal question that every final-year student asks themselves, and finds the answer only a lifetime later – “Where to next?” I found myself asking the same question over and over the last few weeks. While I don’t have any clear answer and I don’t know if things will work out for me, I think I’m going to take a call. This article is going to be strictly about that – a set of rambly arguments for and against a few thoughts that came to my mind. My thought process and how I reasoned to myself. I know it probably doesn’t interest you much, but the fact that you’re reading this right now must mean something.

Okay, now the crucial bits. I am sure that I don’t want to work in a cubicle (not at least right after my bachelor’s). So, I’m sure about getting a master’s degree. I’ll think about what to do after that, but I don’t see myself working in a cubicle, not at least for the next two years. Naturally, the question arises, “What next, then?” I think the abstract answer is, “I want to explore the world.” That’s well and good. However, I don’t have the financial means to do just that. This either means work-and-travel or study-and-travel. Since I already ruled out the working part; I’m left with study-and-travel. There are many to do this. But, on a top-level, it involves getting into a graduate school and travel when I’m not working.

The thing is, what I just said is very top-level stuff. For starters, I got to figure out what type of grad school I wish to go to – an engineering, science, or a business school. That means I could go for an MBA, MS, or MTech, all of which will require me to go through an exhausting application and testing process. Only time would tell how many emails and money would be transacted in the process, but if that’s what it takes not to have to work in a cubicle for at least two more years, I’m up for it. I wish I could rule out a few of these as well, but that’s that for now. I have spent a considerable number of hours thinking about what it is that I want to come to this point as of now. You’ll get what I mean in the subsequent paragraphs.

Ruling out final placements

I made the mistake of logging into Facebook a few days ago. I’m a regular user of the platform and receive most beta-testing features as soon as they are out. But that’s not the point. You must have seen #andhapaisa and #summer_sorted posts on your timelines lately. While I’m happy for those who secured an offer, it made me think about what it is that I want. I had started preparing for final placements a few weeks ago and made some progress, but I decided not to continue with it. At worst, I would have to spend a year without a job or a school to attend. But, I think that’s okay. I’ll use that time to teach on YouTube, which is something that I wish to commit more time to. I don’t want to end up in that position, but I don’t want to go through the entire process, secure an offer, and then back out from it. Some other candidate who wants to work in that position can instead take my spot.

The Students’ Placement Office does a fine job in providing opportunities to students, especially considering my department (EE), campus placements is a really secure way of having a safe-backup in case everything goes wrong. I thought to myself that preparing for grad school applications, CAT, GATE, placements and doing 4 courses in a semester would be too much of a load on me. I wish my career and work-life to be amongst the best, but I also care about my well-being. At this point it seems like picking grad school, CAT, and GATE along with doing my best in the current semester is the wise thing to do. I got to explore the technical side of things so far, and as such do not have any exposure to business side of things, I want to take a shot at B-Schools.

Grad School

Assuming everything stays on-track, I am applying to MSc in CS programmes in Europe and New Zealand. As of now, the UK, Norway, Finland, and New Zealand are my top picks. I’ll see how it works out. Applying would involve a significant effort, time, and money but those are just a few extra steps as compared to the current work. I would need to prove that I’m proficient in English (duh!), get a few letters of recommendation and fill out a few forms in addition to telling them about my UG work. It sounds a little boiled-down but I know it won’t be easy. Let’s hope for the best.

The best part about this is that I won’t have to prepare for any competitive test, unlike CAT or GATE. However, the spots are limited, the costs astronomical as compared to studying in the country, and the move itself is unimaginable. None, that I know of in my dynasty moved abroad for whatever reason. But the last thing is okay. Let me be the first one. If not me, then who? This route would be the best of everything combined. However, there is also a huge amount of uncertainty involved. I’ll let you know what happens, some time in 2021. Keep an eye on the updates to this article to know what happens.

CAT

I registered for the CAT set to take place on Nov. 29, 2020. I think, now that I don’t have to actively seek placements I can focus on preparing for the test and do well in it. Whether, I finally attend it or not is a separate question, the answer to which I’ll arrive at by overthinking some time after I secure the admission. The test essentially has three three sections – VARC (Verbal Aptitude and Reading Comprehension), LRDI(Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation), and Quant (Quantitative ability). The syllabus is mostly high-school syllabus thingy, but answering 100 questions in 180 minutes makes it a hard nut to crack.

The fact that there are so many candidates and so few MBA seats makes things worse. But, I’m hopeful that with enough preparation, I’ll get something out of it. Keep those good wishes coming in the email. This seem to contradict with the no-cubicle proposal that I mentioned earlier but I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from it.

GATE

I’m majoring in Electrical Engineering, and I hate my major. If I take up future endeavours in Electrical Engineering I would probably end up frustrated and quit. I really wish to switch fields and switch over to CS for my masters. That would mean that I’d have to take GATE CS sometime in Feb., 2021. I can study for the exam for two months, which is a realistic timeline for making it through if you stick to a proper plan and study well. We’ll see where that ends us up, but the ideal institute to attend would be IISc, Bangalore. I’ve experienced four years of IIT. I wish to explore other systems as well. Like I said, I wish to study-and-explore.

The M.Tech. in AI or M.Tech. in CS seems like something I wish to explore for the next two years. A common theme if you notice is that, there are a lot of possibilities and speculations. I’m like that. I love to create possibilities in my head and then think about them. Sometimes, I overthink the possibilities and be in a gloomy mood for days.

Some generic advice

If you are reading this, you are probably as confused as I’m about what to do, if not more. So far, I’ve figured out that there are no right/wrong decisions. There are only decisions. No matter how bad a decision, with enough effort and time, we can get a handle on things. Similarly, seemingly great decisions can have long term impacts that could seem devastating. The worst possible thing to do is to overthink about every thing and not make a decision at all. I believe I was on the verge of that conundrum, but I think I’ve finally gotten out of it.

Keep doing what you love doing.

“We are going to have a career spanning over 30-40 years, a year or two here and there doesn’t matter at all.” — a wise senior.

Endnote

In conclusion, I’m not sitting for placements. I’ll continue my preparation for CAT along with the semester coursework. I’ll also continue collaborating with Prof. Hamim Zafar on Computational Biology. I have the CAT exam on 29 Nov, 2020. And the GATE exam in Feb, 2021. I’ll also continue to apply abroad for their masters programmes. All the best to friends sitting for final placements. Keep those #andhapaisa coming. I don’t really know what that means, but ok. See everyone on campus, hopefully next semester. Until then, take care, stay safe! May the forces of Science be with you.

Also, while you’re here I should let you know that I plan on taking this semester seriously, and might not update the blog section much. You can come hangout on Twitter and Instagram. You should also check out the notes section, a few things might be of interest to you. Okay, bye!

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