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I want to rant/whine a little bit.


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So this has been on my mind for a really long time. I was born in a middle class family in India. People around me were average joes. I want to school with people who are not exemplary. I did not get into some marvellous institute for undergraduate studies. I think maybe one guy out of all my high school friends managed to get into a prestigious college in India. He was always the gifted kind. Maybe it is because of his upbringing or genes or something else. 

The point is, that I was always surrounded by average people. I am myself average too. I went to a third tier college in India. Got a GPA of 8.04/10. GRE of 322. Came to the US to get a master's degree at Rutgers.  Barely focused on the curriculum and got a 3.33 GPA out of 4. At no point in this whole journey, I was aiming to get a Ph.D or to publish a paper or something. 21 year old me back then simply wanted a 100k job offer in the US. All I did during my masters was grind Leetcode. I didn't care about networking or asking my professor for a research project or tried to get a research internship or anything. I always felt that they are off limits for average people like me. There were two to three batchmates who got into Rutgers PhD program. But I never hung out with them. They didn't hung out with me either. I was surrounded by people like me, who wanted to get a job and get out.

Now, I have been working for 3.5 years doing some mundane software engineering tasks like moving a service from one cluster to an another. Changing some code to display a different error message to the user.  Every now and then I get to write a 200 line patch to implement a feature and half of the team tries to rip it apart. I have to justify every single decision I made to them.

None of the cool teams, companies that are actually working on futuristic technologies that involve machine learning, computer vision  want to touch me with a 10 foot pole 

? I am more than wiling to go back to college to get a Ph.D but none of my professors even reply to my email. They can't remember who the hell I am. I don't blame them for it. I really hated siting in their classes, doing assignments and not earning money. I had 200$ in my bank account those days and all I could care about was paying my house rent.

I didn't come from abject poverty and I am grateful to be earning a crap ton of money, to be leading a comfortable life in the US. But at the same time, I cannot work on anything cool at all. If there is anything remotely cool that humans are building, say for example writing the software for Mars Rover bot. Unquestionably the software engineer who will be calling all the shots on all the major engineering decisions that go into designing the software for the Mars Rover will be someone with a BS from Carnegie Mellon with a Ph.D from Caltech.  It will never be some average idiot like me with a B.tech from GITAM and a MS from Rutgers University. All throughout my life I was told that if I work really hard, I can turn my life around at any point. The problem with that statement is that everyone is willing to work hard. But only a few of us know where to put in that hard work or how to organize their effort for maximum effectiveness. People who can figure that stuff out already have a BS from Carnegie Mellon. Maybe they are naturally smart or maybe they were surrounded by people who molded them into ultra smart geniuses. Today, the reality is that, no matter how badly I want to get into a Ph.D program. There are very few opportunities for me to turn my life around. The only moment when I really was in control of my destiny was when I was 17 years old and I was writing those stupid IIT-JEE exams or AIEEE or BITSAT or whatever. At 17, I didn't give a shit about those exams. I ended up in a mediocre college. I had very few role models. At 22, I wrote GRE and came to America, hoping to earn a 6 figure salary. Today I realize the things I was supposed to do at 17 and 22. But it's too freaking late. I am already not eligible for half of the opportunities in the world. 

It is so depressing and heartbreaking to know that no matter how hard I try today at 29 years of age, there is a very miniscule chance that I will ever be even considered for something as cool as writing software for Apollo spacecraft in the rest of my life. I really like Computer Science and given the opportunity I am willing to work really very hard, but it is almost guaranteed that I will have to live the rest of my life working on some mediocre, mundane projects, that nobody gives a shit about. I just wish I could die tonight in sleep and not wake up tomorrow morning. I don't want to live any more.




Edited by Aditya_Aditya
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4 minutes ago, Aditya_Aditya said:

So this has been on my mind for a really long time. I was born in a middle class family in India.


It is so depressing and heartbreaking to know that no matter how hard I try today at 29 years of age, there is a very miniscule chance that I will even be considered for something as cool as writing software for Apollo spacecraft.

Hi, @Aditya_Aditya. The bar for foreign nationals as employees doing work for the American space program is set by ITAR. Foreign nationals are denied entry into SpaceX facilities as visitors. So one thing that you can address right now is understanding if you are lamenting the passing of an opportunity that was always out of reach OR taking the steps to make sure you can work where you want to work after you've received the training you need to get the job you want.

Please keep in mind that one can work in the software industry without being a software engineer or having advanced training in computer science. I'm writing from personal experience --  I worked at the R&D lab for a globally prominent business and consumer company. It took a while to understand what was going on but well before that, I was coordinating projects across departments, the Western hemisphere, and even into the Pacific. These kinds of jobs are still out there. They often require specific training and certification, but not advanced degrees. (The kicker is that you will have to be available for long hours of unscheduled work, the ability to prioritize tasks when project managers are all telling you that they need things right away, and pressure pressure pressure pressure on top of pressure.)

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2 minutes ago, Aditya_Aditya said:

What type of certifications? I am genuinely wiling to put in the effort if it helps me!

Set up a LinkedIn account and start looking at the requirements for jobs at places you would like to work. You may find opportunities for holders of some sort of certification centered around facility operations. Or logistics, including supply chain management.

Here's the thing. Some a-holes will treat you like the help, but the smarter ones will understand that they can't do their jobs well without the support you provide. (A point you would make by working miracles for those who treat you with respect. It can be as easy as keeping the fridge stocked with Mountain Dew and diet Dr. Pepper and ordering the right kind of pies from the preferred pizza shop. Hint: if you consistently build in a small buffer to orders, you will consistently be ready to deal with an unexpected diner at a group meal or have an extra widget. Hint 2: Do not eat until you are absolutely sure that everyone else has food to eat. Sometimes, you will end up going without, and it will suck but a grumbling stomach is better than grumbling bosses.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi @Aditya_Aditya

Disillusionment is the first step in evolution. Kudos to you for recognizing that society lies to you all the time. Very few people manage to get to this point so it's a time for celebration!

I feel your pain as I was at a similar point not too long ago. I can recognize the all too familiar signs of burnout in your post. Burnout or any kind of psychological pain makes it harder to think rationally so I highly recommend you take a break. Take a break from everything to realize that nothing is all that people make it out to be, nothing in the world is all that important. Take a break to enjoy the beauty of the wind, the sunshine and the flowers. Be with yourself for a while and give yourself permission to grieve for all that you feel you have lost. Be kind to yourself.

Society arbitrarily classifies people into "average joe's" and "geniuses" (don't believe it). If you really pay attention to a person you will find that they are wonderful, nobody is average. True they might not be great at math or coding but is that how we as a society want to rank human beings? Is that all there is to life? Besides all the "geniuses" from CMU or CalTech mostly come from wealth and privilege. It's not hard to be good at something when you have all the help in the world and nothing to lose if things go south. Also, as a good friend of mine says, there are only 24 hours in a day. So, if you're good at something you're going to really suck at many other things.

Up until now you have been following someone else's dream, that's why the disconnect that's causing the pain. You will have to forge your own path my friend. It will be hard but worth it in my opinion. Nobody can tell you what you uniquely contribute to the world, only you know that.

Take care!


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  • 2 months later...

Hey man,

Much love to you and please do not see yourself as a failure. You need to get a different job. I am not sure if a PhD is good for you by the way and let me explain. I am similar to you. I did not go to a good college for my undergrad and yet, I decided to apply to various PhD programs and got accepted to 2/5 and still waiting on the other three schools. Both schools are of R1 while my undergrad institution is not ranked at all. So yes, I am very happy. However, my decision to embark on the PhD journey is not due to money nor fame. I want to learn more about the brain, how we learn, and how to emulate such process. Thus, I want to train myself to be a scientist.

You mentioned that you went to Rutgers. It is a great school and you have proven yourself to be a good student to get into such an institution. My point is your job sounds horrible and you deserve better. I do not know what is good for you but I do know that you are capable and if you want to continue your education, then perhaps start again with another master to build connections. Or, apply to positions at high tech companies, I think you will find much great enjoyment in a new job, one that is intellectually hard.

Also, I would recommend doing research on your own time. I been working on things on my own and writing papers that I hope to publish this summer.

Good luck and take care!

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