Sep 5, 2013

And then Schlumthing wasn't quite right

Being in an Integrated M.Tech. course and finally being eligible for campus internships after getting into my fourth year, the first company that was open for us was invariably Schlumberger (I still can't pronounce it the way the HR did, though). A Pre Placement Talk (PPT) was going to take place with the HR blabbering about how their company is awesome followed by the internship process.

A company of the stature of Schlumberger, you expect them to be perfect. Alas, the Roorkee air takes that out of you. The PPT was scheduled to start at 5.30, with students battling the heavy rains in spite of being in semi-formals (I was wearing my usual hunter shoes, which I took to the coal mine back in Saoner) and there was a delay of about half an hour. Is that what you want prospective employees to think of you?

The presentation seemed to be the usual corporate bullshit. The important point, was of course, the package. They grew smarter than last year and mentioned the CTC that might have looked a bit lucrative, but the basic pay for the Petrophysicists still remained at just over 78k. Hell, I could make that writing django code in a typical funded startup. They mentioned something about frequent promotions, but a little birdie told me the increase in basic pay is just about 5k per promotion!

The shortlist was announced after the PPT and there were quite a few shocks. Although I made it through, it left me (and others alike) wonder what possibly could they have considered in the shortlisting process.

Once in the Training and Placement office, I was assigned #49. That was to be the primary key through which the corporate honchos would identify me for the rest of the evening. It was past 7.30 by then.

The group discussion topics in Schlumberger are known for their utter stupidity (I don't really know why they want to test that in a GD). Last year, there were topics such as Blue, Bubble and Shoelace. Aditya told me that I was good in talking shit and that is exactly I needed to do. Bite me.

The first group that came out let us know that their GD topic was 'Pyramids were built as toilets.' It seemed that this year, they had decided to take it to the next level indeed. Thankfully, the topic for my GD turned out to be 'Do it right the first time.'

Having a Google Summer of Code under my belt and reading the book 'The Google Guys', I wanted to bring in the philosophy of Larry Page and Sergey Brin into it somehow. After letting the utterly eager ones put forward their points, I bluntly said, disagreeing with the general notion that usually, the second wave of companies make a bigger impact as they learn from their predecessors' mistakes (with the example of AltaVista, Yahoo and Google.) No one had the mind to disagree with me totally, but no one agreed completely too- everyone had to win over the panel. I concluded with 'To err is human', skipping 'to forgive divine.' I had done what I am usually good in- giving the punchlines.

I made it through to the interviews. Many others didn't. That was unpleasant for me. If they shortlisted on the basis of our GD, someone like Aditya should surely have made it through. Had we been considered on the basis of our resumes, I would never have made it through (considering my resume had everything other than Geology in it).

My turn was towards the last. Just as I was about to go into the interview, my cell beeped. I looked at it and it read 'Shit calling'. I knew deep down how my interview would go.

It was around 1 am. I had been standing all the time (thanks to the facilities provided by the TPO) and I clearly wasn't in a mood for an interview. However, since I had come so far, why not try and blurt out something about myself.

I talked of my Jadavpur internship, I explained my work in GSoC and what inspired me there, I talked of the responsibilities in IMG- but they just seemed disinterested. Perhaps, it was because they had been talking a lot of interviews, or maybe, they weren't just qualified enough to judge me on my work! What surprised me, however, was their unfamiliarity with my work in Petrel. Do you not know about the software developed by your own company?

The results were out and I wasn't selected. Factually speaking, they just took the respective toppers, but I wouldn't say they were undeserving. I expected it in a way because every single one came out of the interviews so happy that they thought they were selected. This was bound to happen!

Looking back, one thing did strike me though. One of the core values mentioned in the PPT was PROFIT. At one point in the interview, I was asked my point of view on money. Inspired by the Google Guys yet again, I emphasized on doing something right and how the money would follow invariably. That was my blunder. This is Schlumberger, not Google. A ठेकेदार (contractor- although I prefer the Hindi version) company like Schlum would be more interested in the money rather than thinking about customer satisfaction. It's good in a way- I wouldn't want to lie about my ideals to get a simple internship (They pay 15k after making you toil in the field, by the way)!

Just like in all other cases, I prefer to look at the silver lining here. Not getting this intenship means that I would be eligible for companies like Cairn, BP and Shell (non-ठेकेदार) when they come calling.

There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's the GSoC.

P.S. My only regret is that I had to go clean shaven for the goddamn thing- first time in months, and for what?

TL; DR Didn't make it. They just took off with the toppers on their merry way.

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