Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NIIT - The crucible of opportunity

She is a middle aged lady from the southern part of India, pretty new to the organization and obviously a bit reticent. Her flight was delayed and she rushed into my class yesterday profusely apologetic, and preferred to sit in the back row of the conference room. Though she had missed about forty five minutes of my lecture, she was quickly up to speed, and before long, was cruising through her labs with a great deal of ease. About three of us from the class went out for dinner, and that is when she began to open up.

She had a very interesting story. Smita had come to the United States in the year 2004, newly wedded to a software engineer. She was educated to be a dentist, but before she could pursue a career in it, she was married, and came into this country with wide eyed dreams like many others. For a few years, she preferred to remain a housewife acclimatizing herself, and then started applying to colleges to pursue higher studies in her chosen field of dentistry. By that time, her first child was born and her attention was now divided between her baby and the need to study for her entrance exams. Colleges were not easy to get into, and there was this vague sense of frustration creeping into her life. That is when, her husband had suggested that she should take a job in software. Here is where things got interesting for me - Like thousands of youngsters in India, Smita had enrolled herself for a course in NIIT during her college days; not because she wanted to, but her father had insisted that she should do something constructive with her free hours. She eventually ended up finishing a one and a half year course with no idea what she would be doing with the certificate that was so laboriously gained. Software was the last thing on her mind. But then, all of a sudden, in 2008, that was her only qualification in IT, and when she began scouting for a job, she realized that those 18 months at NIIT had indeed given her the base to attend and surprisingly clear interviews. After a mere three months of search, she landed herself in IBM, and very quickly became very proficient in Software development, and today she attends my class in the capacity of a Tech lead for this project..

To me, this has been one of the significant achievements of NIIT in last two decades: that it has not only enabled thousands of youngsters to become IT proficient, but has proved to be a good back up plan for many others, when things have not worked out well.. Smita is just one of the many who have confessed to me that NIIT was responsible for giving them a break, when the future looked bleak. In those formative years of early eighties, the founders had had the perspicacity to conceive of a nation that will need skilled IT labor. It was a revolutionary idea, and the beauty of it is that they stuck the right note in imparting software education without diluting the rigor involved in the pursuit of it. Reluctant children were shepherded by eager parents to the hundreds of NIIT institutes that mushroomed around the country, so that they will not be left out in the burgeoning age of computers. Almost all of them, who went through the program came out of it molded and ready. I am one of them…

It is always a matter of pride to know that the organization that you work for, has been responsible in many ways to bring a qualitative change in many lives; give them wings when all avenues have been closed. Smita doesn't remember much of her NIIT days, but she is confident that what she retained from those courses has so far served her well in her IT career. In fact, the branch that she had enrolled in 2001 was in operation for only three years. But in its brief existence, it had managed to touch and help the life of this simple girl, who had no clue whatsoever that those ‘dreary’ days in NIIT would be the greatest investment of her time, her father’s money and a boon in her present life...

God bless…

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