15 September is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India in memory of Sir M. Visvesvaraya. He is one of the best engineers the world has ever seen. We, as Indians, should be proud of him.
Last month I received an email from Shri Raksha, a Firefox Student Ambassador & Club lead of K S Institute of Technology, Bangalore. It was an invitation to speak at their club launch on the 15th of September.
After travelling for more than 20 km, I reached their college at around 10:40 AM. Probably the first time I’ve travelled so much for an event in the same city! Upon reaching the college I learned that they had many other events on the same day organized by different departments.
Oh, interesting! What’s with so many events? What was special about today?
It’s Engineers day!
Yes, I’m ashamed and guilty of not knowing that I was to speak at an event on Engineer’s Day.
Pro-Tip to event organizers: If you’re inviting someone to speak at an event, please give them the full context.
Pro-Tip to speakers: If you’re invited to speak at the event, always research about the date. September 15th was also International Democracy Day. Had I read about it earlier, I could’ve spoken about Democracy. (#JustSaying)
Fast forward to the event, I met the team behind the event and the FSA’s. Soon, the teachers and HoD’s from various departments came. It was a full house.
I was invited to the dais to join the HoD of Computer Science Department and their Principal. It was an honour sitting among these great teachers.
It’s been a while since I’ve visited a college and for some reason it felt nice to be with students again.Like every traditional inauguration, this one too had lighting the lamp. (One of those rare things that make me feel really old).
Their principal, Dr. Govindaraju spoke about Engineer’s day, Sir MV and his achievements. He also spoke about making softwares, applying for patents and monetizing them. Maybe I’m more of a Tesla person. I believe in using technology or making softwares to solve problems. If you make something to solve a problem, it’s more likely to help someone else solve theirs too, so share that knowledge. Monetizing is never a bad idea. However, that shouldn’t be your end goal. The achievable must be a solution to the problem. To each his own, I guess.
The wonderful students of the club had made a mobile app to register for events and get updates on upcoming club events. It was an honour to be invited to launch their app along with the Principal.
I always admire the capability of students to organize events. Some colleges don’t even support the students in this, however, KSIT had made a really good effort to support student initiatives, events and personal growth.
I was invited to talk and share more about the Mozilla and what I do with the Mozilla Learning Networks. During the event I learned about all the amazing things Shri Raksha and her team were already doing. They’ve conducted events in schools to teach kids about the web. I later learned that KidZilla was a huge inspiration for them to do this. Go team!
As I picked up the mic to speak, I couldn’t help but smile. I had to share the reason behind that with the audience.
On Engineer’s Day, talking to a room full of Computer Science engineers, was me, who’s a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering, but chose to leave that behind and become a full-time Community Builder at a startup because that’s what I’m passionate about! Communities! People! Building relationships!
This was a great time to rethink their choices in life. Why?
Until now, in every event that I’ve spoken at, I’ve met those students who are least interested in engineering but have chosen the subject because their parents told them to or because they we’re clueless at the time of admission and wanted to do what most of their friends were doing.
Last week, I was talking to some amazing community managers based out of the US and the UK. Learning from their experience and understanding more about the Community management scene outside India. Why? Because it’s non-existent in India! That’s why! Community Management isn’t a thing in India.
Companies here don’t see value in investing in people or building communities. What matters to them are number of customers, downloads of their app or people using their service. One of the people I was talking to, told me that he saw a post on LinkedIn from a company in India saying that they’re hiring a Community Manager. He read the role only to figure out it was a role under the Marketing & Sales team to sell their product offline!
At this point, my reaction was..
Right now, the best tip I probably could give the students was to do whatever they liked & enjoyed. Don’t follow the crowd. Mozilla has different projects you could contribute to. This is an organization where everything is transparent and where people work collaboratively. This means that you can contribute to any project you wish and can interact with the paid contributors working on it. This gives you the opportunity to learn so much about how things work and most importantly, get more clarity, if not an answer, to that weird question:
What do you see yourself doing in the next 5 years?
Thank your for inviting me to speak at KSIT. I had a great time with you all. For the folks who came to talk to me after the event and telling me that the talk was “refreshing”..