Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life, goes a very popular saying. It is a thought that is sure to resonate deeply with students who are at the threshold of starting their careers.

As you prepares to leave the gates of your college and enter the excitement of a new job in the ‘real’ world, it is time to ask yourself, “Are you choosing a job that you love, that will truly satisfy you?” And the answer to that question starts with knowing what you are truly looking for in your career.

Eye for freshers

The big banner IT service companies may seem like an obvious and safe choice for most freshers. However, you might be one of the few who looks for something more. For example, an urge to experience the joy of unleashing your creativity. Or perhaps, the hunger to develop something new and innovative that impacts lives of millions. Here is the good news — there is a career option for ingenious students like you.

The way ahead for these chosen few is the path of product development. All over the world, product development companies are constantly pushing the boundaries, and are looking for enthusiastic young minds who want to do the same. The drive to be ‘the next big thing’ infuses product development companies with a work culture that is dynamic, inventive and very stimulating. The drastic shrinking of product development cycle timelines — from seven to eight years in the past to a year or less today — makes product development companies a hotbed of creativity and innovation. The high energy levels and being surrounded by like-minded thinkers who inspire one another to do better also make them exciting environments to work in.

Quest for the unknown

Are you product developer material?

First things first. Product development is a field that is not suited for everybody. It takes a certain mind-set and attitude to make it in product development.

To begin with, product developers are obsessed with doing something new, or differently. To use a simple analogy, today’s product developers are built in the same mould as the inventors of yesterday — in an earlier era, they would have been a Thomas Edison or Nikolai Tesla. It is the same inventive and restless quest for the new that drives a great product developer.

In product development, a little restlessness is a good thing. That’s what keeps you moving from creating one great product after another. Like most truly creative people, developers are never satisfied with the status quo; the quest for a better, simpler or more efficient way to do things never stops. In today’s hyper-competitive scenario, this unrelenting pursuit of improvement and innovation dovetails quite neatly with the dramatic reduction in product development cycles. That is how product development companies can afford to keep launching improved and upgraded new products at regular intervals.

One of the big perks of working in product development is empowerment. Product development companies empower developers, even freshers, much more than most other organisations. Developers are usually given the freedom to choose projects that they believe in and ignite their passion, and are empowered to take decisions that will help them meet their objectives. Cutting edge products or services can only be developed when there is a high degree of ownership. You are expected to take control of the project and deliver the goods — a dream situation for imaginative developers driven by the passion to create.

A by-product of the ownership and empowerment is that you need to have great problem-solving skills. While developing a new product, it is but natural that you will come across situations where there seems to be no way forward with conventional methods. Unique problems like these will challenge you to solve them in ways that have not been done before. For example, it could be a combination of applying techniques or knowledge from other fields; or using technology not usually associated with the product that you are currently developing. Whatever the method, the satisfaction you get when you tear into a problem and finally solve it is one that many people never experience.

Real job security

If you have identified with the points listed above, and feel that you are prime product developer material, there is one question that will be foremost in your mind. And as a student about to step into the world of employment, it is only natural that you ask, “Does the pursuit of passion have to be at the cost of job security?” After all, the reason most freshers flock to the service companies is because they are seen to be ‘safe’ choice. But the real story can be quite different.

In product development companies, the product developer is an integral part of the company. He or she brings skill sets, and more importantly, innovative ideas to the table that are, quite often, unique to that person. As the creator or source of the idea, or by taking control of a particular part of a project, the product developer is very often indispensable. This indispensability gives you a lot more job security than many other career options. Also, unlike service companies, there is almost no instance of being benched in a product development role.

As a product developer, you also get unlimited opportunities to develop and hone your skills. You will not only have to apply the knowledge you have learned in your courses, but, also learn to adapt and improve on existing technologies to surmount challenges that crop up at various stages of development. You will be working with cutting edge technologies, and setting yourself apart as a trailblazer who is breaking new ground with every project and every product.

In other words, you will be at the top of your game — thinking up and creating something new, pushing the boundaries of technology and having something that you can put your name to as a product developer. Can you think of anything better that you can put in your resume?

(The author is VP & head of India centre at CallidusCloud.)

(This article was published on February 7, 2013)
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