Thursday, December 12, 2013

Feeling Low Anyone ? :)

It could be the weather, it could be that you are away from family & friends and miss them, it could be because things aren't working out as you planned or it could be anything.

But no one deserves to be sad. Not with Christmas around the corner. While a tub of ice cream and loads of chocolate might make you feel better, how about you try going through that old social networking account like Orkut. Check out that old profile of yours and the things you had written down. You never know.. It may be the best thing to help you up when you are feeling low.

Over time, one changes a lot. For good or for worse, no one knows.

Today was one of those days when I just felt like going through my Orkut account. To my surprise, I found a very different me in there. Immature and brash, imaginative yet crazy but there qualities like being unreasonable confident, blindly believed in people, was proud of who I was and more importantly, happy without reasons which over time I had simply moved on without.

I for one was never one who worried and definitely one who planned. I was spontaneous and took everything head on no matter what stood in front of me. I was happy go lucky, and things always worked out for me.

But as our society specializes in advices, you keep getting reminded how you aren't perfect and how what you do is not the right way. You start thinking and change yourself to fit the mould the world expects.

Thinking can be good but over-thinking to a point that one becomes so insecure as to belittle themselves can simply be the worst rough patch. It is a hard task to climb out of that well. More harder than the one Bruce Wayne climbs out of in The Dark Knight Rises.

So let me stop straying from the topic and get back to it. Go to one of those sites and check out what you were and how you have grown. But if you find some qualities which you had back then, which made you happy, try nurturing them again.

Because sometimes the answers you seek, they definitely lie within you. But they simply could be neglected and forgotten :)

Remember who you were for bitter experiences are part and parcel of life and discarding virtues that defined you is not the answer. Remember where you come from for it instills humility. Remember why you did the things you did for they tell you the reason. And last but not the least, remember to be happy and spread that cheer around.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why Getting Rejected Is Good For You ;)

You aren't the first and you definitely wont be the last one if you recently received a rejection e-mail. The reason I say this is because it has its own lessons to teach if you are willing to learn.

Editing the quote from The Dark Knight trilogy,
"Its Who I Am Underneath, Not What I Do That Defines Me."

I know. I know. All you Batman fans, including my inner voice, are totally against what I just said. But, if you think about it and read on, you might agree with me :D

Still working on my thesis with Shell, I strongly felt that I belonged here. That I deserved to be here. And that is when I decided to turn it into a official thing. I applied to the Shell Graduate Programme i.e., for the Shell Recruitment Day.

While still in east (India), I applied for the opening in Netherlands. I initially inquired with the HR in Bangalore and was told that there wont be any more recruitment days held this year here and Netherlands was hosting one soon. So why not apply there and what can go wrong my amazing brain reasoned ;)

And so I did. I applied and got invited for the online test. The first one was a psychometric test. Google came to the rescue once again. I took some sample tests and started gearing up. I got some valuable information from other graduates in the company who told me how they look for a leader / CEO material candidate.

I thought of the attitude and approach my line manager had and read articles / interviews by Peter Voser (CEO of Shell). I tried to think on similar lines and took the psychometric test. To my delight I cleared it and was invited to the most dreaded stage of the online tests. The Numerical Test!!!

This second level on online test had 2 parts namely Numerical test and Decision making test. Numerical being timed, can be quite intimidating and to be honest, I still feel intimidated by it. After thorough practice on graph type tests, I finally took it. Decision making I found to be quite easy since I continued with the same managerial attitude which I had for the first test. Numerical with its 18 questions in 15 minutes has got to be the scariest test so far. It was a whole different level than the ones I had practised and by the end of 12 minutes I had managed around 4-5 questions. Freaking out, I quickly tried to answer 4 more questions not sure of them being right.

The idea here is that you answer as accurately as you can. You dont have to answer all the questions but there is a minimum score which I believe is expected. However, saying that, this test being joint with decision making, the average of both could be the deciding factor. And that, I believe, resulted in my moving forward to the next level of the recruitment stage.

I was called in 2 weeks time inviting me to the Amsterdam office for the face to face interview. Since I was not in the country they informed me that they will contact me again to set it up. Now, during one of the team dinners, I receive a call and the music in the restaurant isn't helping at all. I am asked if it is possible to schedule it for the very next day and if I decline the next opportunity would be 2 weeks later. I decide to take the slot for the next day which I regretted greatly as soon as I cut the call.

I was helping the team set up for a "Pride in Engineering" day in the Bangalore office and not to forget I had left my laptop at work which contained all my crucial notes and preparation for the phone interview I was waiting for. The phone interview was a disaster and after ending the call with my interviewer, I felt sick at the way I went about answering the questions. The main reason being, I was barely myself. I spoke as if it was my right to work for Shell and that I deserved to bag that job.

No One Owes Any One Any Thing. Period.

I received the rejection mail in 3 weeks time as I expected and I did request for a feedback session where the interviewer from earlier called me up to give his inputs on my interview. It was quite helpful in understanding how they interpret your answers and how they understand you from your answers.

This experience humbled me. Taught me that you are as on the same level as any other person and have to fight it to get it. Dont expect but work for it. I have seen every future application as an opportunity and have taken each and every one of them seriously which I never did earlier.

In the end, I say that, keep an open mind and no matter how bad things get, there is always something to learn. It might be more about the company, what they look for or in the worst case, much more about you and what you want. Keep learning, keep changing for that is what helps you to get better as things progress.

Also, there comes a phase (hopefully not) when all you receive are rejection e-mails and with more coming in, the more you send out. In bulk. Try not to get into this habit. I will stress this more in my coming blogs and how you can apply in order to be looked at seriously.

Rejection helps - be it your own or from others (poor me).

PS: While on a roll, it wouldn't hurt proposing to a girl/guy as preferable to you. Worst case, it hurts less and you bounce back faster searching for the next "The One" ;)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Road To Graduate Program..

This post is directed towards the graduating students heading off into the big, wide world.

I am by no means an expert, but if you wish to get a head start and start your career in a big way, there are 2 main routes that greatly help.

Two things - Entrepreneurship or Graduate Programs.

Most of us dream of having our own company one day, doing what we love, what we believe in. But like most startups, there is always a mountain tall list of things that stand between you and that dream. It takes work, dedication and many more impressive sounding words and yet there is no guarantee that things will ever work out. However, it has got a thrill of its own.

Like it is said,

If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs. - Tony Gaskins

However, if you would rather join a company instead, I suggest you look for graduate programs. They are hard to get into. But it is one of the best ways to get into a company. They have gruelling training periods where they will put you across their various disciplines to learn the length and breadth of the company.

The usual routes for a graduate entry position varies from company to company. But following are more or less the usual steps:

1. Apply online with your CV and Cover Letter.

2. Online tests - Verbal, Logical, Numerical, Psychometric, Personality etc.

3. Phone Interview

4. Case Study

5. In-Day

6. Final Interview

Note: Rejections are possible after each of these levels.

Following days, I will stress on each of these and try to give you a brief overview of it along with my learnings.

Do let me know if it is of interest to you and if there are specific topics you would like me to address and write on.

Till then, Ciao :)


It has been a while.. Definitely more than a while. When I started blogging here as part of the TUD blogging team and especially when I stopped, I never expected so many of you to read it and contact me regarding your queries.

So here I am, back, to tell you a little about what has happened in my life since my last post.

Sometime in the end of June, I was desperately looking for internship opportunities and none seemed to be coming by. Luckily, a 2010 batch aerospace masters student, whom I knew, was doing his thesis with Shell Global Solutions at that time and they happened to be looking for some interns. So a group of 9 students (including moi) and a TUD Aerospace professor headed to the Shell Projects & Technology office in Rijswijk.

Up till that very day, whenever I heard of Shell and how my friend was doing his thesis in some corner of the office, I imagined a "control room" office with monitors, controls and people in orange jumpsuits (Personal Protection suits). But as I laid my eyes on the Shell building in Rijswijk, I went "WOW"!!!!

It is a beautiful office and yes everyone was dressed to impress and were not wearing jumpsuits :D

We were quickly introduced to the staff and a brief presentation followed which included lunch (Yeay!! Free food) :P. Following this there was a informal interview which none of us were informed of. And after almost 3-4 weeks of waiting, 6 of us were informed that we had been selected to do our internship with Shell and were given choice of assignments and joining dates.

Since then, I have had a great time. This has been an amazing journey and I have been given so many opportunities to learn and develop both in technical and personal front. I can tell you so much about this company and yet it will be too little. So I will let you experience it for yourself in case you happen to want to work for it.

I finished my internship in February this year and was offered a chance to continue my thesis with Shell. Moreover, the person who could help me with my thesis happened to be in Bangalore and I have been here since March. Of course I happened to have couple of exams to write in April for which they also flew me back and forth (PS: Business Class) ;)

I am currently still working on my thesis and hoping to finish off soon (By January maximum). My future posts will be focused on the Job Search front. I will make sure to add in essential tips in there to help you understand and apply more successfully. So do keep a look out for my future posts and trust me I have loads of things I wish to share.

If you do have specific questions (other than if you will get scholarships or jobs) do feel free to e-mail me at and I will try to respond to you as soon as I can.

Till then, Adios!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Police Story - Delft Style

Even before I set foot in Netherlands, I had heard several encounters of the Indian public with the Dutch Police. After coming to Delft, it was no different.

- Dont ride after dark without lights else the cops might catch and fine you.

- Dont drink or smoke weed in the streets else the cops might catch and fine you.

- Always carry your residence permit else ...

Of course, my bike light has a mind of its own and never switches on when I want it to. This made travelling in the night quite a scary experience. Not because I might hit someone but because I might get "fined" :P

Okay! This encounter with the cops was totally unexpected and my first time too. But the way it unfolded, I would never have guessed unless it was in India :D
Saish with his usual pose :D

After an amazing Avengers movie viewing at the Pathe in Rotterdam, my friends, Chetan, Saish, Winoi, and myself made our way back to Delft way past midnight. We get down at the Delft station on platform 1. We start climbing the over bridge while notice a couple of cops walk down from the over bridge to platform 2. My friend Winoi and I notice a glass fall from under the stairs and we look around to find no one. So we continue on. We hear the cops say something and approach us from the side. We just keep moving until we realise he was talking to us and stop.

He approaches us and starts speaking in Dutch. We tell him we dont know Dutch and if he could speak in English. He starts, "You think I did not see ?"

We are kind of confused and ask him what happened. He goes on, "You drop a glass of beer and think I would not see."

Chetan goes ahead and tells him that he can test us for alcohol since we never drank any beer. The police guy gets a bit irritated and says, " So you think I am lying ??"

Now when a cop says something like that, things just might get nasty. Moreover, he shifts his hands from the front of his belt to his gun on his hip. Powerful move. Definitely. But we stuck to our story hoping he will believe.

Then he continues, "Usually, you would get a ticket for this."
So we dont get a ticket ?? Hurraayyy !!!
"But this time, I will let you go. Do not repeat it again."

Of course not.. So we thank him (still dunno why) and leave.

Later enlightened Chetan (Cos he knows everything ;)) told me that there was nothing to fear. If we got a ticket, we could wait till we get a mail from the court or go to the court website online and file a complaint where you can put forward your version and moreover also add how the person was rude and not willing to listen.

So another lesson learnt and the discussion is still open as to if his pistol was a real one or if it was a stun gun. Trust me none of us had any intention of finding out ;)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Poker Face

When I first came to Netherlands, the word poker reminded me of only 2 things. The song Poker Face by Lady Gaga and my lab partner in my Bachelors Fahad Ali trying to tell me how he used to play poker which at the time I never understood nor tried to understand.

After coming to Netherlands, one fine day, my friend Hardik tells me that he has found someone selling a Poker set and that we all should pitch in and buy it. I go oh what the hell and agree reluctantly. After that day, we have played a few times and I grew more and more familiar with the rules.

Now you would be wondering why am I boring with these worthless details about poker. I ll tell you why.

Recently I came across this ad:

Now who in their right mind would go if they only started to play a few months ago ? But I had to try. Who knew ? I just might win ;)

So I go register for the tournament and try practising for it only to realise I lose every single time :P But the D -day came and I start off into the sunset, walking towards the Sports Centre. The tutorial session was going on and there was a huge crowd around the 4 beautiful poker tables. We all wait patiently till the tutorial session finishes.

Then Anoeshka Ishwardat, the lady in-charge, calls our our name and allots us to one of the 4 tables. When my name is called and allotted to table four, I gingerly make my way to the table and join the others.

4 Tables. 10 at each table. A little bit crowded but that is okay. Rules are explained and we begin. The first hand is dealt and the dealer for the table asks for folds. This was new to me. I was still trying to pick my cards and I thought he was asking it back because of a mistake. I then realise I just folded before I even saw my cards. I felt like a jackass and was so glad my poker buddies Hardik and Ravi werent there for if they would have been, they would be laughing on the floor then and there.

Embarrassed I play and see my coins begin to dwindle. I waited for the right cards and then voila. I strike big. There were only 2 Indians out of the 40 and both of us were at table 4. He kept losing his coins till he used to go all in and like a Phoenix he used to rise again. This happened 4 times till on the 5th time, I took him out :P

So many different kind of players all playing for the Ipad 3. While some stared so hard at you that you thought you were gonna melt there were some friendly ones as well and of course there were some who just dint care about you. It made me think back to the scenes from James Bond. And as the bar girl approached us for our drink order, I was so tempted to say "Dirty Martini - shaken not stirred" but all I managed to say was "no thank you". Of course, it is a different issue that they do not serve it in the sports bar :D

It was great fun till our table players were reduced to 5 and we were shifted to other tables. I sit at table 3 and see the players go out one by one till players from table 1 and 2 all join us to make the final 10 at table 3 playing for the prizes.

Not bad I thought. Made it this far. I just might pull it off ;) But alas I played a hasty all in and lost it all. In the end, made it to the final 9. Saw the numbers dwindle to the final 3,2 and the winner.

The winner had kept going all in for the last hour or two and had finally won the Ipad 3. Oh well, guess I will have to buy one after all :P

PS: My friend Ravi was telling me yesterday that he ran into the guy who won the Ipad and apparently he was saying that he attended the tutorial before the tournament and that is where he learnt the tactic to go all in and win.

After hearing that, I have nothing more to say and I rest my case...

After Exam Masti

Well, if you have been following my blog, you definitely might have found out by now that April has been the best of months in terms of fun and activities. But there were a few more events I forgot about (Can you blame me ? ;) )

So after the tiring week of exams came the weekend. I wanted to just hit the sack and sleep and sleep but I had signed up for an After Exam Masti event organized by the Indian Students Association Delft.

Getting up early on the morning of 22nd April, my neighbour Sindhu and I bike in the early morning (9:30 am :P) chilly air towards the tram station. We meet the rest of the gang and catch the next tram to Hague along with our guide Amrit.

We switch trams and along with a couple more people, head to the Gurudwara in Hague. After almost 22 years in India, I finally visit a Gurudwara and that too in Hague. Well, there is a first for everything :D

We tie a saffron coloured cloth on our heads and enter the main prayer hall. The bhajans and verses from the Guru Grant Sahib were being recited in Gurmukhi. The feeling of liberation and attainment of inner peace could not be denied. Although I did not understand the meaning of the the recitals, they still struck a chord which vibrated within me making me feel a energy so positive. It did feel good to finally experience this feeling, after so many months, in a temple in Hague.

After the prayers, we got "Sheera" as prashad or the sweet which is offered to God during the prayers. This was followed by lunch. We all sat in line for the food and we were served hot rotis (wheat bread) , along with carrot and potato mash, green gram dal, boondi-raita, gajar ka halwa (Carrot Halwa - Sweet Dish).

As I always maintain, temple food has a taste which cannot be replicated, no matter as hard as you try, at home. It was very delicious and we all ate till we could no more.

From there, we all headed towards Scheveningen beach with a big content smile spread over our faces. This was my first time here and although the weather was sunny, it did not stop it from being cold and windy. This ruled out our Frisbee plan since it just kept moving in one direction. At one time it just kept rolling away with the wind and my friend Karthik had to go chasing after it before it just rolled out of reach :P

So we sat there and chatted away till we got bored and headed off to Hague. We roamed around for a while and ended the tour at McDonalds.

This ended the saga of the After Exam Masti. Although there wasnt much of "Masti", we had a great time and isnt that what matters ? :)