I found this on quora.This is really relevant for many of us here at IIT Kharagpur.
“This story is from IIT. Again, a true story.
When I joined IIT (Then ITBHU), I met seniors in my college who told me: “You should not really try to get highest grades. In fact if you do, you might not get a job. Try to score just about enough that you are right above the average. You would get two jobs! Possibly three as well”.
They said: “Look at that guy! He is a topper in our branch, but he does not have a job.”
The topper was filling up his water-bottle and quietly went to his room to study. He even heard this conversation, but did not say anything. He didn’t smile or didn’t make any face. He was just going through his internal thought process.
I followed their advice for an year, and got really average grades. In fact I was the yardstick of being called average. I wasn’t particularly happy with my grades, and I thought may be a little above average would be better. Next semester I wanted to do a little better.
Then, 9/11 happened and the whole world changed within a day. Suddenly within weeks of that day, all the seniors in my college who had offer letters in their hands suddenly started getting decline letters in their mail boxes. The companies that had hired them sent them all decline letters saying – their job offers were canceled.
It was somber all over the campus, and then it was a state of panic within hours. People were running all over the place talking to each other, making phone calls and so on.
The topper who was in fourth year was still quiet. He was patiently watching everything. He called me to his room, and asked me to sit. I have no clue why he liked me. I was musically inclined, and I think he had seen me in a library once and had talked to me for just a few minutes. In addition he had seen me performing on stage. He only wanted to spend ~ 10 minutes with me, but wanted to pass me his life’s best advice.
I was listening. He said: “Check this out. This is not a decline letter. This is an acceptance letter.” It said – “Massachusetts Institute of Technology”. Congratulations! You are accepted for a PhD program.
Then he said – “Try to get the kind of grades that will make you respect yourself as much as possible all your life. Your grades will take you places. Don’t take wrong advice. Look! They were all telling you to be average. And I know you can do better. Now go, and spend as many hours in library as you can consistently for rest of the semesters.
The reason I am telling you this is because you never know what will change in one night in the world. ‘They’ will take everything away from you. There is one thing no one can take away from you. Your work ethics and how hard you work. All the best!”
The next semester, I got the highest grades, and then I got the highest grades in rest of the semesters. I don’t need to say more, but I believe should you choose, you can take his advice. Then I made it to University of Wisconsin Madison for a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and then to Intel corporation. Who knows where the next destination could be…
Update 6/5: Recently I joined Amazon in Seattle as an optimization engineer.
Check out these two answers as well:
Stay blessed and stay inspired!
Hope this helps and inspires!