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The Interview at BMW!

“When your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme.” 

– Jiminy Cricket

I had taken the train from Stuttgart main station to Munich main station. Traveling began at 8:30 in the morning, but the journey had started long ago. The speed of ICE trains, beautiful view from the window does seem to make you think deeply (if you are not sleeping that is, because that too is awesome!).

I could feel each breath on that day, and each event seemed so big.  And then it all started coming back to me. I remembered that I had told once sitting in my home, “I will work for BMW at a PhD position and get my doctorate from there”. And this was told around 3 years ago, having no idea if I would ever travel outside India.

My presentation was ready, I was prepared (I guess) to give one of the most challenging interviews I had ever given – a PhD position at the research and development department at the headquarters (Munich) of one of the biggest names in automotive industry, BMW. All I had with me was 5 slides to show my research work in past 8 years and prove why was I the perfect fit! Sounds simple right? Well, I thought so too. Trying to keep all the tips and tricks I had got from home, friends and internet into one stream of thought, I was walking up to the office I was asked to come.

Munich, known to be one of the nicer cities of Germany, didn’t really help me get the vibes I needed. To this day, I have no idea why I don’t like that city. But that’s not the point. I reached the office and the first thing I notice was no one at reception. Couldn’t even enter the waiting area (Safety reasons I guess), and no one cared. My first impression of BMW was already scoring -1.

I finally entered, the way the people at reception behaved was just very different. They were not smiling and definitely not helping. Asking me to take a seat and making me wait for 40 minutes is not something I was ready for (especially when this was supposed to my dream company).

Finally, the person who was supposed to take me interview came and I followed him to conference room. For the confidentiality purposes, I shall skip to the part (90 minutes later) where I came out of the conference room and in few minutes had my HR interview. It was taking sometime for me to realize that I could prove 2 of the highest management personal of R&D to consider me for further stages of selection and to prove I am worth their time and resources.

The next round was also for another 90 minutes with the human resources responsible person and when I walked back towards the main station, I knew that I had done it. Hearing the positive replies from all the people who were going to make the selection, not just made my day but after a really long time, pitched the feeling of ‘accomplishment‘ in me.

11

Even though the formal process was still remaining and I did receive it in following few days, my decision had been made on the way back to Stuttgart on the day of interview itself – I was not going to accept the offer.

I did hear each one ask ‘Why?’, ‘What is wrong with you?’, ‘Why would you not chose it?’ and so one. It wasn’t about the topic or money. BMW is a corporate and I am just a little fish. I don’t have the experience it takes to survive in a big pond.

One of the wisest people told me once: “Charu, it’s better to be a big fish in small pond rather than small fish in a big pond”. It has always worked for me and helped me make my decisions and hopefully, when I am ready (a big fish) , I shall choose a big pond (BMW of course).

The recognition that one must get for his/her work is what drives me to betterment. I wasn’t ready for it (even though they did!). Hence, I chose the offer from same company that I had been a part of since 12 months and it still gives me the energy to begin each new day and go to work happily.

That making me end my obsession with BMW, made me realize that true happiness lies in things that actually give you the motivation and passion to do something better each day.

P.S. Share your experiences in the comments below and let me know what do you think 🙂

P.P.S. Do subscribe my blog if you enjoyed reading this and would like to read more of my posts as soon as they are published! 🙂

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50 thoughts on “The Interview at BMW!

  1. I started reading your posts to learn more about ASE in Chemnitz. Your take on life is giving me new inputs for my life. Your words will be helpful in my pursuit of my dreams. Thanks a dozen!! Keep sharing your experiences and outlook 🙂 And all the best for your life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Srinivas,
      That was the motivation for me to start writing in first place 🙂
      Thanks a lot!
      P.S. You can subscribe to my blog if you like 🙂 you will get an email each time I write a new post henceforth 🙂
      P.P.S. Do share it with your friends and anyone else if you think it might help them too! 🙂 Thank you 🙂

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    1. Hello Abin,
      Thank you very much for your wishes 🙂 I wish you the same for all your future endeavors 🙂

      P.S. You can subscribe to my blog if you like 🙂 you will get an email each time I write a new post henceforth 🙂
      P.P.S. Do share it with your friends and anyone else if you think it might help them too! 🙂 Thank you 🙂

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  2. Challenging yourself is one way to grow. Being a big fish in a small pond is definitely more comfortable; but if your chances for promotion and learning are limited, is it really the best choice? In one respect, you are most likely safer–there are a lot more piranha and man-eating sharks in the bigger waters. They do their best to destroy the little fish and don’t care what means they use to accomplish it.
    While the fish/pond analogy is not new, I had forgotten about it. I think I’ll probably use is it in one of my novels.
    Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think one of the main things one have to learn in life is to trust one’s gut. If your gut told you BMW wasn’t a good idea, despite all the dreams and thoughs and work you invested on it, I think you were very brave to trust yourself. Some people spend their life learning the hard way to trust themselves. On the other hand, learning occurs everywhere, even (or especially) when building from scratch. Thus, congratulations.

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    1. Intuition is a strong thing. Everyone has that one sense of feeling that tells them yes or no internally, but it depends on the person to go with that feeling. I did…and definitely learned something new that day 🙂
      Thank you 🙂

      Like

  4. The minute I read that you wouldn’t accept the offer, I mentally automatically imagined talking sense into you! But then I read that it is better being a big fish in a small pond and to be honest, I wouldnt have ever thought of that and it is probably the sanest thing you did. I wouldnt know how to not to accept if my dream place offered me a job!

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        1. Hello Lethe,
          I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt me, but it was for good 🙂 and once I realized that, there was no looking back 🙂 There are lots of things in life…we have to just keep moving forward 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with your decision. Learning is a very important phase of life and you will possibly get that more in a small pond where you are the big fish. Jumping into a big pond in the first attempt, is lucrative but might not be sustainable and without sustainability you reach nowhere in the career graph. People have their individual views, but I think its lot better to join a big company as an experienced engineer. In that case, you might be starting little bit slow in terms of money, but after some years you will have a considerably high growth rate, compared to others. And in the end, its your own life and you should be clear about the decisions you make.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved your writing charu!
    I can understand your dilemma and I think you made the right choice for yourself. If you were not interested and had taken the job you would have hated yourself more. Good luck for the future. Keep smiling 🙂
    As for me, I’m glad that I found your blog. Keep writing !!

    Like

  7. Hi Charu,

    I too had a similar experience, only difference is that I took the opportunity to swim which was difficult!! ( Porsche AG Zuffenhausen)

    There is a lot which I cannot explain in comment box.
    As you haved picked up a very interesting topic of mine would like to share also experience.

    Alternatively you can check my profile on LinkedIN.

    Best Regards,
    Sourabh

    Like

    1. Hello Prem,

      I have no idea what I don’t like about it since I haven’t ever worked for a big pond. It’s just that, I chose what makes me happy and didn’t take up something just because it might sound cool in my resume. I want to grow as an individual and a professional before I take up the next step 🙂

      Like

  8. well i think u’ve made a wise decision . ur reasoning has no flaws and based on wish to improve urself . And that you stood up for what you believed makes it more impressive. All the best charupathni. That name is one of a kind for sure. :p

    Like

  9. I also believed in the “Small fish in a big pond and big fish in a small pond” and preferred to be in a small pond and in my comfort zone until my beloved father gave me a different perspective to the equation. He used to tell me, being in small pond, even though you are still a small fish, you think that you are a big fish (since comparison is to the small pond) until you come out of the small pond. Since you are big for that pond already you stop challenging yourself and remain in the comfort zone. My father had been my inspiration and motivation all through my life, hence, I took his words and moved out of the small pond to a big pond. Few years later, today I can say, I am a happy growing fish in a big pond (DAX listed company).
    However, it could be true other way around. Anyways, all the best to you!

    Like

    1. Hello Rajendra,

      I agree with you to a large extent. It’s just that, I chose what makes me happy and didn’t take up something just because it might sound cool in my resume. I want to grow as an individual and a professional before I take up the next step 🙂

      Like

  10. Charu,
    nice blog & good words.
    Well, I also had the same confusion when I was looking for a job. My decision was – big pond.
    There are so many other things you should see.
    1. Big ponds like BMW, VW, Daimler, Bosch etc. are all certified. They have standard processes, policies, rules etc. which one can learn. Ex, TS16949 procedures
    2. Working in global teams – it is amazing (I still wonder) how such big companies function, how business is done across globe through multi cultural teams, with cultural challenges, differences in time zones and facing many other challenges – it is simply awesome
    3. Big companies never go bankrupt
    4. Big companies have several small / medium sized entities within the group. One can always decide where he or she wants to swim – though being a part of the big pond
    many others… (hard to put everything in words)

    If you learn to swim in ocean, you will swim anywhere..

    Everyday I feel proud of being a part of an organization with 300 000 people !!

    I understand, small ponds have their own advantages as well. One has to decide for himself.
    It is a difficult decision, i know !!

    Cheers
    Hardik

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Guess one way its a wise decision. you could learn a lot , fire yourself and prove yourself as you seems to have a fire in belly and dreams in those eyes, you could feel more valued in a new start ups and supporting company and to learn from there and perhaps join later on big names to fel in line with others also you would know almost all and they will know you. Although it matters a lot with people you work with and culture, environment they have to support. Sometime big companies have a limitations to confined with in given role or work and line yourself to that boundary and its become a life in a rhythum soon, otherway could also possible that you feel a lot welcome and respected of your knwoledge and fresh energy in new company and get respect from big people in big ´brand and you feel top of world then too. well at the end of days its give an take of respect encouragement and acceptance of day to day colleauges and your boss matters a lot irrespective of any brand and that you never know until you are there. Wish you good luck and all the best. Brand matters for ego but may not be entirely for satisfaction and satisfaction and brand can come again too. hope you own a bmw soon . Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  12. munich is a city which may not make you fall in love at first sight, but trust me, you will miss munich once you are out of munich. i exactly had same feeling like you when i went to munich first time. after 2.5 yrs in munich and now i miss it badly.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It was really inspirational. Great going. But then I just a question Y would you attend an interview, get selected and then reject the offer when you know at the first place you actually dint wanna be the small fish in the big pond …

    Like

  14. After all, life is all about experiencing new challenges and living out of your comfort zone! Being a small fish in a big pond will definitely make one raise the standards they set for themselves!

    Like

    1. Santosh, trust me I am a person who tests my limits and looks to grow at each opportunity. This was not one of it.
      It could be that the small fish in the big pond would have got lost.
      But even other way is possible 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The challenges would be different in both cases! But accepting the offer to work in a big pond would have its own advantages. After all, life is about experiencing new adventures out of your comfort zone!

    Like

  16. Imagine the same interview taking place in a city you love or the city where you would love to live, with a hassle free entrance to the building, a warm reception with smiles and probably an impressive tour of the place where you could work in the future. Do you think your decision would be different then?

    Like

  17. Imagine the same interview taking place in a city you love or a city where you would love to be, with a hassle free pleasant entrance to the building, a warm reception with smiles, no waiting period and an impressive tour of the place where you could work in the future. Do you think you would have accepted the offer in that case?

    Like

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