Book Review: Heads You Win

Five tips for IT students

A few days back, I was invited for a discussion in a College/University as part of their program to orient their engineering students towards industry.  The students were specifically from Computer Science, IT and MCA programs - what is called IT stream.

I was given a fifteen-minute slot for a presentation and decided on five slides - three minutes for each.  And this was what I presented.

Do what you love; love what you do

Preferably choose what you want to study (or generally do), because you like/love it. Do not choose it for reasons like -

  • IT jobs are glamorous
  • it is easy to get an IT job
  • my friends are all doing IT
  • I want to go to US and I can only do from an IT company
  • my parents want me to do IT,
  • (for boys), I get higher dowry if I do IT

... and so on.

Now that you are already in IT stream (whether out of love or otherwise), better start loving it now.  There is only so much justice you can do to anything if you don't love what you are doing.

For any one that I meet who complain about their job, I tell them this - either you find a different job or start liking what you do.  Continuing to crib and work helps no one.

Be inquisitive - question everything

One of the qualities that I like about my nearly four year old kid is this - he takes no statement at face value.  For every statement from us, his reply is Why?  ("ennathukku" - in tamil).

"It will rain today".  Why?
"Because there are black clouds".  Why are there black clouds?
"When it becomes very hot, clouds form".  Why?

You see how it goes...

Inquisitive people are hard to find.  Perhaps the system has made them so.

"Don't ask - just listen and obey" - parents tell, teachers tell, elders tell.  Children grow up and stop asking.  And why would they?  And if someone does ask and they do not get a satisfactory answer, it becomes worse.


What is the reason for the success of top singers, dancers and other artists?  Practice.  For IT students, I expect programming to be the fundamental skill.  This skill needs to be nurtured, enhanced and perfected.  Each time I go through the solution to a programming exercise that we send out as part of the selection process in our company, I am saddened by what I see.

I can only attribute it to the fact that students learn the bare minimum required for them to pass the exams.  If there are ten programming questions that can come for the exam, they would be able to write those ten programs by heart - but not the eleventh.  There is absolutely no attempt made to practice programming, notwithstanding the excellent lab facilities, personal laptops and what not, that are available.


There is considerably distraction in today's world, when compared to, say, twenty years back.  There was no internet then, no mobile phones (much less smart phones).  Today, there is constant interruption due to a Facebook or Whatsapp messages.  Then there is TV, cricket, movies.  While cell phones may be banned in College and internet possibly restricted, there is still shallow knowledge on subjects, due to lack of focus.

Make mistakes

There is a general fear of failure among all.  That makes us risk-averse and in turn, restrict us from what we do.  Our education system is also intolerant of erring students. But not learning from mistakes (by first committing them) is missing out on some of the best things of life.