16 February 2018

A sub chapter in my life that I almost forgot to write about

As you know, I spend a lot of time on the road for work which means many an evening is spent grabbing a quick dinner sitting at the bar. And the days I am not traveling, usually Sharmila and I go out and get a drink. A common theme in all these settings is that I make friends with the guy or the girl behind the bar and get to know about their life stories.

There is an interesting pattern there. Try it out yourself if you do not believe me. More often than not, it would be a young person in her or his twenties. They would have invariably finished their high school. After that either they could not afford college or are working at a bar to earn money to some day go to college. I know of kids (and I consider twenty year olds – kids) for whom a few thousand dollars is the difference between going to college or not going to college.

A few months back, at the urging of a friend of mine – Aaron, I attended a breakfast meeting of YearUp.org. I had some familiarity with this organization from one of my prior jobs. I would recommend that you read up on them – what they do and all that if you live in the US. In short, they take kids who are done with high school and try to give them a “break” into the corporate world.

Money is not the only issue with the kids. Professional skillsets is also not the only other issue. Most of them do not have the background or exposure to present themselves. They have a hard time writing a reasonably good resume. Because they have no understanding of what corporate America thinks is a “good resume”. They have little to no interviewing skills in a corporate set up. Most of them would not even know how to talk to an executive for a few minutes.

That is what YearUp tries to solve for. They try to give those kids some professional skills and a lot more of the soft skills and try to engage other corporations to give them an opportunity at an internship for six months. In all, as the name suggests, the full program is for a year.

But there is a catch. They have strict rules for the students. No cuss words. Always formally dressed. Always carry a resume. Never be late…. If you play by the rules, the year is free to you. If you get demerits, you are thrown out of the program. Lest you think these are easy… I want to remind you that most of the students can not afford cars. One of my students takes a bus, then a train, switches to another train and then a bus again – a two and a half hour ordeal EACH WAY to go to his internship place. And he cannot afford to be late as long as he wishes to stay in the program.

In any case, late last year, I enrolled myself to give my time to the cause. I came in mid stream but a few folks – like Amrutha and Carla – were very helpful in getting me inducted. I was assigned twelve students. I have to tell you – all of them have incredibly humble beginnings – one girl pushes disabled people in wheelchairs at our airport, one girl worked in the catering section of a local racetrack, one guy mows lawns, one guy worked at the backend of a local retail store… but their determination to be successful someday is jaw dropping to me. I certainly had a humble beginning myself – but nowhere near these folks. My parents gave up a lot in their lives but they always paid to make sure we got college done – even if they had to borrow money. And yet, these kids while not having that advantage, has more determination than I ever had.

Ever since last November, I have been spending one on one time with these new friends of mine helping them understand how to present themselves in a corporate environment, how to behave in a corporate environment, how to write resumes, how to interview, how to think about careers and all that good stuff. I am thrilled to say that due to the efforts of Yearup, six of my twelve kids have scored jobs in the last two weeks. I am still working with the other six.

If not anything else, I would ask you to just go to Yearup’s website and read up about them. They just want to create opportunities. They certainly created a few for me. Who knows? Someday you might create some opportunities for a few of their kids too!!

P.S. In the picture, I am addressing a larger set of students giving them my thoughts on how to work with recruiters …

Posted February 16, 2018 by Rajib Roy in category "In Transit


  1. By Nita Ganguly on

    You impress me more and more. I would love to do this but I do not have any corporate experience having been an educator all my life. Am thinking of other ways that I can give back to the community once I retire…. once I am done I will surely ask for your help.

    1. By Rajib Roy on

      You can be tremendously helpful with your insights – especially with the female students – but all in general.

  2. By Indu Godura on

    Rajib,I fall short of words to praise you……. your multifaceted skills and generosity…….it’s simply amazing.My regret, despite being a part of the same institution, never was your teacher.God bless you always!

  3. By Amrutha Renganathan on

    You are wonderful Rajib Roy! How about we arrange for a group tour to meet students and experience our site for you and all your friends! Feel free to provide my cell Rajib to anyone interested in learning more. I work in Development at Year Up- please feel free to message me and I’m happy to share more about us!

  4. By Cindy Lubitz on

    Rajib- this last year, we hired a ton of year up students to open an hr service center in Atlanta. They were terrific in the interview process, well dressed, well trained in interview behavior and we hired far more than we had anticipated. Very special organization.

  5. By Krishna Sur on

    Rajib you are a real good soul.I’d love Kunal to get in touch with you and the good work that you’re doing.But,I don’t know how to get you 2 on same plane. He is not a FB fellow

    1. By Rajib Roy on

      Ramesh, for me the first gauge is how much efforts are they willing to take. As an example, you will be surprised how much they will travel to just sit with me to go thru their resumes and change them. Of course, I try to make it easy to drive my car to a coffee place near their place of work or residence – but most of them offer to come and meet near my house. To put this in perspective – it takes me over 2 hours to drive my car to get close to some of these folks – when there is NO traffic!

      A second indicator for me is how much focus they have on what they want. I do not mind at all – and they are always respectful – but I am impressed by how many times each will reach out to me with all sorts of questions about an interview they are going to walk in a couple of days’ time.

      Finally, how they deal with failure. Many of them take it to heart after being rejected but they seem to bounce back right away the next day – instead of saying I will go back to what I was doing before.

      Now, realize that I joined towards the end of the year for this batch. So, all my observations are based on how they are going around doing their job searches, interviews etc etc.

    2. By Ramesh Krishnan on

      Could you elaborate the initial screening done for motivation? The selection process of these people. I am sure the selection success must be a key motivator itself.

    3. By Rajib Roy on

      Ramesh, I just sent you Amrutha’s contacts thru PM. She will be far more equipped to answer some of your questions…


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