But this good fellow, who I’ll call Sanjay, agreed. After doing my best to help, it seemed a pity to leave our work as a private message. I know that I’ve learned from this sort of things, and I’ll always be in debt to the folks who helped me with my writing, so I thought maybe it this might help others. I asked Sanjay’s permission to post our exchange to a public blog, and he agreed but asked me to remove identifying information. Below is an edited version of our PM back-and-forth. About three small paragraphs, I wasn’t really expecting that! Anyway, I am going to write something right now. As the chemistry folks say, “in-situ” preparation. And it’s easier for me to write down from my own memory, a life experience. I am a final year college student, and a few days ago, we had campus placement. I am going to write a personal experience and I would try to make it as less painful as I can.

Starting from next paragraph, kindly consider the three consecutive paragraphs as my writing. 2500 applicants; less than 200 companies, and 20 days – that sums up the placement season this year in our college neatly. Except there is one problem – on an average, each company hires no more than 4-5 students. Maybe in some rare cases 12-15 students. So, if you get placed, count your blessings. It has less to do with your acumen in engineering subjects and more to do with your luck, present-ability and communication skills. On a good day, you would have about 4 written or online tests. On a bad day, you would have 4 tests after midnight while next day interviews would start from 6:00 a.m. Yes, in December. So, say bye-bye to sleep, wear formal clothes, bring in your resume and get cracking! Get over the grief for not getting shortlisted in your dream company, like your friends’ Facebook statuses who just got placed and abandon hope.

Oh and, did I mention that shortlists for interviews and tests are put up 10-15 minutes before the tests & interviews? Something I neglected to tell him, but which seems obvious now as I read over our correspondence, is that like many of us, Sanjay changes his style when he switches from casual writing to more purpose-driven prose. Compare his opening to me, when he’s “just chatting,” with the excerpt from his story that follows. Do you agree that the former reads as much more polished, evocative, confident, and readable than the latter? Had he asked me for help with it, I wouldn’t have been able to say much. It works as is, and it also is brimming with Sanjay’s personality. It has a style with him trying to create one. I have this same “singing in the shower” problem, and as silly as it sounds, I sometimes solve it by writing in gmail instead of in a word processor. I’ll be in the middle of an essay or story, and it will feel really awkward and stilted.

And so I’ll close down Word, open gmail, start a letter to my friend John and tell him whatever I’m trying to say. Even though I’ll never send it, somehow the act of writing to a specific person frees me up. It makes writing feel less artificial and lonely, and it gives me a specific point-of-view and audience. 2500 applicants; less than 200 companies, and 20 days – that sums up the placement season this year in our college neatly. Except there is one problem – on an average, each company hires no more than 4-5 students. Maybe in some rare cases 12-15 students. So, if you get placed, count your blessings. It has less to do with your acumen in engineering subjects and more to do with your luck, present-ability and communication skills. On a good day, you would have about 4 written or online tests. On a bad day, you would have 4 tests after midnight while next day interviews would start from 6:00 a.m.

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