The Lows and Lows of IT Life


The Lows and Lows of IT Life

Illustration: Sushant Ahire/Arré

About a year ago, I remember watching Office Space, in which Ron Livingston plays a frustrated and unmotivated IT employee. At one point in the movie, he laments over his life in IT, and says, “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realised ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”

As I watched that scene, I chuckled and thought that life in the IT industry can’t be that bad and dismissed the whole thing as a grossly exaggerated representation. Cut to two months later. I had started working for an IT company and had become a living embodiment of Ron Livingston.

It all begins with the recruiting process. Mass recruiting companies are known to be as careful in hiring candidates as a person distributing flyers on a busy street. Rumour has it that if you are seen anywhere in a two-kilometre radius of an engineering college during the placement season, a mass recruiting IT company will offer you a job at a CTC of peanuts per annum, and thus your career in slavery kick-starts. But you will not be bothered because you will be proud of the fact that you’ve made it to the corporate world, you have to wear a tie to work every day, and there’s a designated desk for you. But this is just Bahubali before the interval, and things will escalate real quickly.

As soon as you join, you meet a person who has the personality of a rotten tomato and the enthusiasm of a paper clip aka a manager. He often has a degree in MBA from the Institute of Lowest Cut-off and several years of experience in lying through his teeth. Your entire career will hinge on the manager, who decides everything from the projects you get to the places you will travel to. He reviews your work and also has a say in your promotion. You and your manager have opposite goals – while you try to do as little work as possible, his job is to exploit you as much as he can. Your relationship with the manager can be best described as the Pro Kabaddi of the corporate world. You better make your peace with it.

In every meeting, your manager will tell you that you are different from the other employees and will be soon rewarded with an overseas work trip if you keep working hard. Then, without an ounce of shame, he will promise the exact same thing to the rest of the team.

You soon realise that your manager really likes hearing himself talk because there could be no other explanation for the many pointless meetings he holds. If you had a rupee for every time he called a meeting that could have been an email, you would have the money to bailout Vijay Mallya. The way to appear smart in these meetings is using words, which do not contribute anything to the discussion but carry a lot of weight like “vertical market”, “human capital”, and “synergy”.

But don’t get hung up on the manager just yet; you still have your colleagues to put up with. Fellow co-workers in IT are either so smart that they could efficiently code and simultaneously solve the Rubik’s cube, or so dumb that they could be replaced by a stone and there would be no loss in productivity.

Your social life will take a hit because it is very difficult to create a good impression after you’ve said you work in IT.

You will hang out with some of your colleagues and get along with them, and everything will be fine until the day you find out that they always “reply all” to emails and you will never be able to look at them in the same way again.

One of your colleagues will always be preparing for CFA, another one will always be browsing Facebook. There will always be that one guy who spends most of his day figuring out the right font to make the PPT look more attractive, and someone who will crib every day without fail about how much he wants to quit this job because it has nothing to offer. But he never will. These are the kind of people who go on to become managers.

If you are looking forward to life outside office hours after slogging at work from nine to six, you should give up right now. If you ever accidentally happen to leave at 7 pm, everyone will stare at you like you’ve taken half the day off. Your social life will take a hit because it is very difficult to create a good impression after you’ve said you work in IT. For instance, you can’t expect someone to swipe right on you if your bio reads programmer. Your chances at copulation are higher if you tell them you are unemployed or a serial killer.

The only time people will be impressed with your IT skills, is when you fix a machine for them. People will think you know your business, when all you would have done is switched the damn thing off and on. Nobody cares about your qualification and area of expertise. If you work in IT, you must be able to fix everything from a laptop to a printer, from a mobile to a mixer, and even the internet at home.

Over time, your brain will lose weight and soon all the grey matter will be replaced with PPTs, word documents, Excel sheets, and trying to learn how to work a printer. After a few years, you will go to office only for the chai-sutta breaks and pretend to do some work in between.

When you finally grow grey, the realisation that you are one of life’s losers will dawn upon you. You’ve spent most of your heydays in office and your colleagues are your only friends, all of them also losers like you. The only time people will approach you is when they want you to fix something on their computer, or even worse, when they want to know how to take screen grabs. Your dating life becomes Shift + Del. You will look back at your college days, when all you wanted was to be left alone with a laptop and unlimited internet access, and then you will slowly hit your head on your desk until you pass out.