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What

I did

not learn

at IIT


Transitioning from Campus to Workplace

Every year graduating engineers are told that they are destined for success. But what are the habits and behaviors that actually lead to success? In What I did not learn at IIT, Rajeev Agarwal, the Founder and CEO of MAQ Software, has distilled decades of life experience into one accessible and informative guide.


Copies in circulation

Pages of insightful advice and checklists for leading a successful career

Words spanning eight chapters, including many useful tools and worksheets

References to a wide variety of authoritative works about careers and life

Takeaways


Manage Work

Manage your work by planning ahead, following the standards and being solution oriented

Campus to Workplace Transition

Learn about all the departments in your company and try to create your network with your alumni in the company and the city

Personal Effectiveness

Learn as much as you can while finding the balance between your personal and professional life

Manage Health and Money

Follow and adhere to a checklist for healthy habits and money saving measures

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The author donates his proceeds from this book to support girls’ education in India.


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  • Language: English

  • Binding: Paperback

  • Publisher: Penguin Random House

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Who is This Book For


Young Professionals

Provides you with deep insights as you take your initial steps in your career

Upcoming Leaders

Today’s students, Tomorrow’s leaders

Smart Savers

Provides checklists to those who want to save big and save better

Budding Entrepreneurs

Prepares you well as you enter the real world

Articles


How do I Advance in My Career?

As the Founder and CEO of a mid-sized company, I regularly think about advancing myself professionally. If I grow myself, I advance our company. If our team grows professionally, the company automatically advances. Many aspiring professionals routinely ask me about career planning and growth. I have worked with hundreds of people across three global industries (appliances, software, and consulting) since I graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) over 25 years ago. Many people I have worked with rose quickly through the ranks, while others took much longer.
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Book Reviews


The book is thus a ringside story and not just armchair preaching. In seven neat chapters, he deals with the issues of managing work, personal effectiveness, health and money and it finally boils down to seven simple yet significant decisions that make or break our lives.

IIT Book

This book also engages with the nitty-gritty as it shares the author’s personal work habits. Eight appendices would be very useful to individuals entering a life of business as a detailed list of tips on how to professionalise your work life. This book is actually a successful entrepreneur who has agreed to mentor you if…

IIT Book

Encouraging graduates to look at their careers over a 40-year span, Rajeev explains that being passionate about every job you do is vital to reaching that pinnacle. Using a skillful combination of personal stories and checklists, this book offers students, young and old, a road map for success.

IIT Book

Can be easily used by freshers as a guidebook, this book helps with the prime questions right after college – what now? From how to behave to how to invest, Agarwal has imparted his own knowledge in this book. And coming from someone successful, these surely are words of wisdom.

Praise for the Book


The world will globalize even further, leading to new opportunities and new challenges. Young professionals will need to build and hone new skills. It will not be their knowledge, but what they do with it that will be important. This book will surely help engineers prepare themselves for professional careers. The book is an easy read and prepares one as they enter the real world.

IIT Book
Som Mittal Former President NASSCOM

A much-needed book. The examples are easy to understand and the stories are memorable. Young professionals in many industries will benefit from this book.

IIT Book
Ashutosh Vaidya Vice President and General Manager—Applications and Business Process Outsourcing Dell Services

An excellent narrative and written in simple language. I read the book in one sitting. Here is an opportunity to enable the “campus hire” hidden within each one of us to make a successful transition to the workplace. A must read for every young professional who aspires to succeed the right way!

IIT Book
Srinivas Sastri Vice President, HR Birlasoft

Having led businesses at global organizations like Wipro, Cisco, EMC, and now Mahindra Satyam, I have worked with many successful people. The personal success habits discussed in this book resonate well with me. A must-read for anyone wanting to advance in their career.

IIT Book
Manoj Chugh Global Head—Business Development, Enterprise Division Tech Mahindra

With many industries suffering from overcapacity, companies in India still have the opportunity to lead the IT services sector. One of the ways to grow a company is to increase the effectiveness of team members. As a Gazelles Growth company, MAQ Software has implemented some of the key growth techniques explained in the book. I highly recommend this book to industry leaders to share with their teams to grow their businesses.

IIT Book
Verne Harnish Founder and CEO Gazelles

What I Did Not Learn at IIT is an excellent reflection of Rajeev’s constant quest for knowledge and fulfilment. Some of us are fortunate to know Rajeev’s humility along with his passion for imbibing knowledge, and this book is representative of both these qualities. It is amazing to see Rajeev share what he has learnt over the years in his successful career with the next generation of people who are entering the workforce. This book is a fantastic, easy read for anyone in different stages of life who seeks to learn and realize their full potential.

IIT Book
S. Somasegar Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division Microsoft Corporation

We are giving copies of this book to our Graduate Engineer Trainees who have joined us from campus this year. Very practical thoughts. Every professional should adopt these in their daily life!

IIT Book
Sunil Goyal Chief Operating Officer Sopra Group India

The examples and ideas mentioned in this book are applicable to almost all industries. Over the last 25 years, I have watched Rajeev advance in his own career by practicing them. I am certain that these ideas will also help many new graduates advance in their careers. I highly recommend this book.

IIT Book
O.P. Goyal Whole-time Director JK Paper Limited

This authentic and inspiring book will help many young graduates advance in their careers. Many training departments will use this book as a supplement to their own training programs. A must-read for new graduates if they want to develop successful habits and gain additional perspective on life after college.

Ankur Prakash Vice President of New Growth and Emerging Markets Wipro

This is a great book; it is down to earth, simple in language, and uses common sense to explain complex issues. Hopefully, this book will serve as a checklist for a lot of engineers and others to introspect and improve themselves.

IIT Book
Arjun Malhotra Co-Founder HCL Technologies and Headstrong

Frequently Asked Questions


Throughout the book, I avoided offering any advice. Readers are intelligent, and they can decide on their own. Instead, I shared my experiences and readers can draw their own conclusions. When people ask me questions during my presentations, sometimes they are looking to confirm their decision or opinion. People tend to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. Psychologists call this Confirmation Bias. With this bias, people interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. I am sure that I have my own biases and ignore contradictory evidence. With this bias in mind, I answer the questions below:

I am in my final year of engineering. Should I do an MBA instead of taking a job?

Speaking from experience, I worked for three years before I was accepted into a good MBA program. Work experience allowed me to better understand and relate to case studies and classroom discussions.

Even way back in 1986, one of my classmates at IIT was selected by IIM Calcutta right after his B. Tech. He declined the IIM Calcutta offer. He said he would first gain useful work experience for two years and then reappear for the entrance examination at IIM Calcutta. My classmate chose to work for two years in the automobile industry. He was accepted again by IIM Calcutta.

In the 1980s, MBA slots in IIMs were very limited. It was unusual for anyone to wait for two years. He did. In today’s world, with additional MBA options, take a long-term view. I encourage most students to gain work experience before deciding if they want to do an MBA.

Should I take an OK job in a dream company or a dream job in an OK company?

Most people select a dream job in an OK company. I have seen people do better if they join an entrepreneurial company. If the company is doing well, the company will have more opportunities than leaders. They will offer new challenges and employees can rise. If the company is sinking or shrinking, the opportunities are going to be more limited every year.

Should I pursue an MBA from a good school or do a Master’s in Engineering in the U.S.?

The answer depends on your immediate interest. Very few people do both. I am one of them. I advise people to do an MBA only from a good college (top 20). I do not suggest doing an MBA just for the sake of doing an MBA. As mentioned earlier, proper skills are what employers want. Master’s programs (MBA and MS) are one way to gain those skills. Many successful people in our company never attended a formal Master’s program.

How should I choose between two job offers? Low salary with more learning opportunities or higher salary with fewer learning opportunities?

I always suggest choosing learning opportunities. Your salary will improve in the long run.

I do not like to exercise. How can I change?

I also do not like to exercise. I find exercise boring and painful while I am doing it. However, I feel much better in the long run. Personally, I found that I enjoy playing badminton. So I play that sport on a regular basis. If I enjoy a sport, I am likely to stay with it.

I like to spend money. As a result, I do not save any money. How can I save?

Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) and other similar schemes are a great way to save. Experts suggest ‘pay yourself first’ every month. If money is withdrawn automatically from my salary account and deposited to my SIP account, I cannot overspend.

Is there a ‘mantra’ or shortcut to success?

Yes. Since we are living our life for the first time, we are amateurs. Avoid playing the ‘loser’s game’ and do everything with a deliberate purpose.

I do great work as an engineer. Why should anyone care about my clothes or appearance?

Just like our body, we want all of the body parts to work properly. One area may not be as strong. Similarly, most companies want us to maintain minimum standards in each area of our presence. Once we meet the minimum standards in every area, we can focus and excel in a few areas.

I do not like to read. How can I learn?

Reading books is one of the lowest cost ways of learning. Other techniques include audio tapes (podcasts) or videos (YouTube). We can attend classes where someone is giving a lecture. We can start a discussion or study group within our company.

I do not like my job or my manager. What should I do?

Assuming that you like your company and the industry, I suggest working to identify areas of your job that you enjoy more. In my experience, 85 percent of the daily work in most jobs in most companies is routine and repetitive. Only about 15 percent of the work is new or different. If work was fun, most companies would not have to pay people to do it. Just like fun parks, people would pay to work. Experts suggest that areas that we enjoy more are probably related to our strengths. If we seek additional assignments in those areas, we likely will come out ahead in the long run.

As far as the manager is concerned, probably the feeling is mutual. Probably your manager does not dislike you. She probably just does not appreciate your habits and behaviors. Every person has their own unique work style. Some managers are more responsive to people needs while others are reserved and do not talk much. Some other managers are direct, demanding, and decisive. Once you understand the manager as a person, you can adjust your work style to meet your manager’s needs.

I like my current job. I want to move to a city near my hometown. I am unable to find a similar job in a city of my choice. What should I do?

I chose professional growth and opportunities over living close to my family. In the new scheme (dhancha), most good job opportunities are limited to six or seven metros. If both you and your spouse work, it is unlikely that you will find two great jobs in a small city for the 40 years of your work life. We have to be prepared to move to another large city for professional reasons.

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Dealing with lots of fan mail in my career of a writer I really do appreciate every shortest message or questions I get from you.