Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What were you thinking?

hii dis is xxx...i m frm xaviers..studying in sybmm.. i m looking for placement.. plz let me knw if der r any...i hav sent u my resumare...plz hav a look at it...

This is a real email.

I swear.

I want to meet this kid.
I want to meet her and ask,"What were you thinking?"

Why did you join a mass media course anyways?

Because it sounds cool, better than doing just a B.A.

Because it sounds like you are on a path to 'somewhere' and maybe, in a good year, you might even land a job.

Of course, the poor sod who employs you will wonder "What were you thinking, St Xavier's?"

Can you at least pick people who can read and write English ?

Can you ensure that two years into the course they are aware of basic etiquette when addressing a prospective employer?

Can you drill into their heads that even though there is Google, real journalism is about going out there - on the street, on the beat.

Media schools, can you teach your students that being a journalist means paying attention to details.

Like recording interviews, whenever possible.

Taking care to quote people correctly.

Doing your basic homework and then asking for inputs.

Think, before you send off an email asking an expert to practically do your job for you.

Please revert me back with your ideas... We will appreciate if you write the story along with me.

"What were you thinking, young journalist?"

Ah, but you never knew journalism involved thinking.


  1. Typo, Rashmi...I'm sure there are no pubic officials :)


  2. Thanks.. that was a rough draft which I posted by mistake. Have corrected, in fact, removed that reference :)

  3. Hi Rashmi, After this I am sure that we are on highway to becoming fast food nation; Everything prepared in short and quick way wihout thinking about process.

  4. Oddly, google ads threw Amity Mass Comm ad below the last line "Ah, but you never knew journalism involved thinking." in my reader

  5. i have some different perspective.. this is Gen Y.. they have totally different attitude to work than the Gen X or boomers had.. there are many studies on the subject.. the merging of work and play... scant notion of self privacy.. always on and connected and the list goes on.. no patience for corporate BS language.. no regards to be a stuffed suit..

    issue is whether you want to use this talent pool or not.. for all you know this girl might be one of the most creative persons you have ever met.. i have worked with people whose behavior borders absurdity by corporate standards but they have talent and it is up to us to use the talent..

    newsflash: the older generations have to align with the younger and not vice versa...

    you are in India where there is a huge supply of young people so you the luxury of putting criteria such as pure, grammatically correct english and what not.. the developed world where the young talent is scarce, companies are bending over backwards and changing all their policies and rules to accommodate these kids.. they are afterall the future and they will dictate the norms in years to come..

    so go beyond the SMS language and give this gal a break.. she might be the best marketer to people like her.. or she might have the wackiest idea that can create the next billion dollar business..

    i have exchanged emails with people who have created the most economic value in the world by any stretch of measurement.. and their language is mildly better than the one you are quoting.. they dont care about grammar etc.. all they are focused about is the result.. it is up to you to take the ball and run with it..

    and BTW you are not doing any favor by giving this kid a break.. for all you know she might teach you a few things in the hr you invest with her.. so go with an open mind

    i am least bothered about punctuation or capitalization or even correct usage of words in my normal work.. the world has moved beyond it..

    i would anyday meet this kid (and many other kids like her) observe their behavior, exchange ideas, even offer them jobs if they fit, and i am sure they will teach me a thing or two..

    to the kid who wrote the note to RB and got this treatment: dont get disheartened by this.. grammar nazis dont rule the world.. you work on your strengths and the world will be yours.. there are many better places in the world than being a corporate flunk for a boss who measures you by your 2 sentences :))

    the person is much bigger than a few sentences.. in fact, as an observer, i applaud the courage of this kid who sent you this note.. this shows she has a devil may care attitude (very important for new, pathbreaking work), she can speak her mind and is not in awe with senior people.. she values time and undervalues corporate BS.. you rock, kid.. keep it up

  6. This definitely is a symptom of a larger & serious problem viz:

    1. Inflexible education system.
    2. Broken admission procedure.This is also pervasive in engg,medical & mba admissions.
    3. Long list of problems i guess........


  7. As an ex-Xavierite who loves the English language, it was terribly painful to read this. But you know what? I'm not surprised. Not one bit. Considering I also work in Human Resources, I see this problem staring me in the face every day. Just the other day, I was so frustrated about not finding any young kids for content-related work that I shot out an email to friends and even my Xavier's professor. She replied: "Join the gang... The ones who know English have all gone abroad, it seems".

    And yes, this is what I call the "instant" generation too. Nobody reads real books anymore; there's no debate/thought involved; and worse, we are actually accepting it.

    Someone from my generation (Sigh! I feel so old and I'm not) joked that we just might need such rubbish language skills as the world is gttng 2 used 2 lykin stff typd lyk dis (Trust me, that was very hard to type!).

    Good luck to all of us!

  8. Personally, I don't care about the formalities one usually is supposed to go through while applying for a job but I do care about politically and grammatically correct English. I suggest training these kids for the same in college. It's very sad...

  9. Very interesting discussion. I was almost on RB's side, till I read abcd's comment and to my surprise-- did not disagree. I am still not sure basic grammar etiquette (if not grammar fascism) is uncalled for when sending in your resume. But yes, maybe we need to study the youth further and identify fresh benchmarks of quality and character.

    Remember the days when going to office meant wearing a full-sleeved shirt, perhaps a suit or coat and carrying a briefcase? :-)

  10. And I'd like to add: I'm a sucker for "attention to detail". It just tells me that people care enough for their audience.

  11. abcd - A job in journalism - with an English magazine - requires excellent language skills. Therefore, sending an email in pidgin English defies common sense.

    What you say could however be true if my requirement was that of a computer programmer, graphic designer, marketing executive.

    And yet I would give some brownie points to an email which came to me in decent (if not perfect) English. It's not about language alone but your attitude towards the job.

    Respect for your job means you make that effort. We can discard suits and ties, but that does not mean we now attend office in shorts and chappals.

  12. RB - are you really saying that given a proper assignment this kid would not write in good english.. just because she wrote to you in this manner? do you use the same language in your conversation as in writing (at least i dont and i dont know anyone who does).. yesterday Joe Biden was caught saying after healthcare reform bill "this is a big effing deal".. by your standards Biden is not eligible for your job (maybe he really isnt :))..

    i think you see work and non-work as different ecosystems.. i try not to and studies on gen Y suggests that they dont.. in fact they change jobs if they feel there life style is stifled (one of the main drivers of job change)

    classifying jobs by what one should wear / how one should speak / how one should behave almost borders prejudicial behavior.. it is mathematically proven that a team of diverse people and not so brilliant will always beat a team of brilliant individuals with low diversity in a complex problem solving.. progressive companies worldwide are making an attempt to hire diverse workforce in all disciplines (be it marketing, tech writing, creative, ops, programming whatever).. we are much more than our education, resume and job responsibilities and thats what we bring to office everyday.. not a well ironed dress and immaculate english

    and BTW.. swing by one of the west coast office campuses in summer and try counting how many CXOs you see in shorts and chappals.. and isnt this the place where some of the largest business value is created routinely..

  13. If a computer programmer comes and writes code which looks cool but no one can understand, he'd most probably not get hired. There are certain jobs where certain things can be relaxed. I wouldn't expect a computer programmer who'll just sit in a dark room and code to dress up in a suit, even for an interview. But if he writes code where he can't name a function sensibly I'd probably not hire him. You could argue that he'd probably write better code when working than in an interview, but it's a chance I have to take against someone who already does it in the interview.
    It's a similar thing for a journalism job.

    End of the day, etiquette is not governed by law or anything. It's up to you to follow it and others to expect it. Just as the girl might seem well within her rights to send out mails like that and might be a genius, RB is well within her rights to reject it instead of bending backwards to accommodate someone.

    Also, there's no point being a boss and owning a company if you still have to bend backwards, is there? :D

    You just gave it to him! One *tight* slap! I hope he reads it :P

  15. Nice post!
    By the way, I just saw this on your linkiedin profile.

    "Youth marketing in India, youth content, youth branding, writing for business magazines, creative writing, entrpreneur"

    Spot the typo :)

  16. I consider myself very much a member of the Y generation, and I am as appalled as you are in reading that email.

    And while I understand your point, abcd, I know from personal experience that companies here in the developed world would not be "bending over backwards and changing all their policies and rules to accommodate these kids," if they saw an email like that.

    It's not so much grammar fascism as simple courtesy to type out a legible, spell-checked email to a recruiter, if you're expecting something in return.

    Just because a lot of people are doing it, doesn't make it okay, and I almost take offense in seeing you suggest that companies should expect that from us.

  17. whooaa...!!!! resumare :O
    what on earth was he thinking..
    and that too whilst applying to JAM..
    i mean.. err.. oh Lord save the soul..

  18. To abcd: The fact that this fresher wrote such a careless email with only about three coherent words in it, indicates she does not take the person/institution/organisation she is addressing seriously.
    It does not take much effort to type correctly - it just means that you're thinking correctly and coherently. I don't buy the notion of sms-speak in email. An email to a friend fixing up a dinner date can be as casual as they wish but an email to a prospective employer asking her to consider her resumare (sic) written in this deliberately shoddy way is plain pathetic.

  19. I see this among a lot of my classmates! I know it's sad, but from Gen Y, let me tell you that all of wouldn't do this (though many of do).

    It's now upto you experienced hands to pick out the really good ones (like moi, i'd like to think)among our lot. I guess that requires thinking as well. ;)

  20. i would anyday meet this kid (and many other kids like her) observe their behavior, exchange ideas, even offer them jobs if they fit.

    ABCD, you make a strong case for moving on. But people with such scant respect for punctuation and grammar don't fit in a reputable publication.

  21. Dear RB,

    I seriously feel it was very unprofessional of you to even post the 'edited' e-mail of this lady on your blog. It not only breaches the privilege you have as an employer but also the privilege you have as a journalist.

    Speaking of journalism, is this lady even aware that her private e-mail has been ripped apart in public (i understand you have made her name XXX, but that doesn't absolve you from giving her a chance to reply)? Was she given a fair chance to say the least?

    Moreover what has language got to do with reportage? You might be a really good reporter yet can't spell a word.


  22. The only thing I seem to notice wrong is that after the atrocious "sybmm", the ellipsis contains just two dots. Moreover, the ellipsis at the end of each artfully placed fragment (a sentence would be overreaching), indicates the deep introspection (and hence the pause appropriately indicated via the structure offered by the language) before constructing the next fragment of words. These set of alphabets reflect intellect, introspection and a break-away from norms. What more can you ask?


  24. I'm 15 and unfortunately, all of my friends type like that and I hate it.Why pollute and ruin a language?This is just really sad.



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