Friday, April 16, 2010

A Swan among the Ducklings

A Swan, among Ducklings, Are you one?

The value of gold is known only to the goldsmith is an old saying. Is a gold smith evaluating your golden traits and attributes or you are with a tinsmith? Are your talents being utilized for the organization and the work that requires and values your attributes?

The answer in most cases is an unfortunate no. I am referring to a phenomenon which is global.

In my childhood I often used to hear this Marathi song.This song more or less relates to the employment situation The first two lines are given below

एका तळ्यात होती बदके पिले सुरेख 
होते कुरूप वेडे पिल्लू त्यात एक 

Loosely translated it means, “In a lake there were beautiful ducklings , one of them was ugly & deformed.”

And the last stanza says.

एके दिनी परंतु पिल्लास त्या कळले 
भया वेद पर त्याचे वरासवे पाळले 
पानियात पाहताना चोरूनिया क्षणिक 
त्याचेच त्याला  कळले तो राजहंस एक 

Again loosely translated, it means, “One day the duckling came to know that, it was being looked down upon by others as ugly and deformed. It fled that place, and when it stealthily had a momentary glimpse at itself in water it came to know, that after all, it was not a duckling, it was swan A Rajhans (A royal among the swans). So it realized it was not deformed or ugly, but it belonged to a different clan.

Are you the proverbial Swan egg that accidentally rolled in to the duck nest and was hatched???  Then it is time you analyze your situation and try to get in to a job  that requires and respects your attributes preferably within the same organization or be on the look out for an suitable opportunity and make a career move as soon as possible.

You know your destination,you should travel the route that takes you there.If you take the wrong route, you will reach the wrong destination and by that time you would have lost valuable years in your career.Nothing can be done at that stage except ruing the past.

So when you are still in the beginning of your career, you leave and join the flock of Swans, and be happy throughout there after.

The most common mistake the employers make is, job seekers with expertise in one domain are handed job responsibilities requiring expertise in another domain. They are thrown into a clan they don’t belong to, and they are not as fortunate as the Rajhans. Slowly a feeling of deficiency or insufficiency creeps in, adversely impacting their performance and careers.

What does this convey?

Even if you are well educated, with proper etiquette. If you have not chosen the work profile and the work place in accordance with your attributes, you are going to be a swan among the ducklings.

Why does this happen?

I feel both the job seeker and the employer are to certain extent responsible. However the main reason for this is the total disconnect between the Academics and the Industry. How much of curricula planning involves both, unfortunately not much.

Both Academics & Industry exist in their own door-less Ivory Towers totally oblivious of the existence of the others.


The Universities whether private or state owned enjoy an exalted status. Though the competition amongst them is intense, the industry specificity is not a criteria or a parameter. I feel the academics are totally insular to the industry needs.

 In academia there is the luxury of time. Thus when a thought might start, it doesn't necessarily have to finish. You can begin ... and not necessarily end. It is this kind of open-endedness that makes academia a necessary space of free thought in the world. The free space is a necessary inefficiency designed into the academic system so that new thoughts can form in the most productive manner — which is through the natural reinforcement of the passage of time.

Thus a thought which begins as ingenuity, by the time it transforms into a policy, becomes obsolete in industry relevance.

This is a global phenomenon. Prof. Rosabeth Moss Kanter former editor of Harvard Business Review in one her speech lamented the poor planning of curricula and ignorance of STEM education in United States. Which resulted in the quality of the passed out graduates being poor? She also considers this as one of the reasons for the jobs being outsourced to other countries.

The industry on the other hand is more or less shortsighted in terms of academics specific to industry. An outlook beyond the top lines and bottom is rarely found. There is no time for it to work for specific, customized, industry relevant curricula with the academia. 

Internship programmes designed by the academia are no doubt well intentioned, but the implementation at the industry is half hearted. There are examples of the internees being used for running errands rather than for any meaningful imparting. 

Role of parents/Guardians

The role of parents in this mess is not insignificant either, but I will leave it to my readers to discuss & debate it.

The Nett result is what I said in the beginning.
A swan among the ducklings, or other way around.

How to prevent this?       

Does begin with change parents and their attitudes?

Should the jobseekers prefer to wait a while to get a jobs related to their aptitude?

What are the changes required in the approach of the universities and academic institutes?

Often the pressure of student loan repayment forces the students to opt for the first job they are offered. How to tackle this?
Can a more lenient approach from the banks help?

Should the employers conducting campus recruitment be more responsible?

Please view the animated story in the video with the background song sung by Asha Bhonsle

 Best wishes,


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