Ah! Another article about PoRs, isn't it? But what exactly is a PoR? Why is your senior/mentor/roomie/wingie telling you to apply for it? How do you decide whether to take it up or not? (We mean: Life toh sahi chal rahi hai, what is this PoR rat race?)
Fret not, let us explain
Firstly, let us tell you what ‘PoR’ stands for - Position of Responsibility. You associate yourself with a club/event/sport/cultural activity or technical activity and carry out events/initiatives for other interested people. Most teams have a three-tier structure with fourthies leading the team, thirdies leading subteams, and sophomores forming the subteams. As the name suggests, there are basic responsibilities you have to fulfill as a PoR holder. PoRs take up some time, make you go out of your comfort zone, and if carried out well, also turn out to be a great learning experience.
The term ‘Position of Responsibility’ has varied notions attached by people. There are some people who perceive it as a key to successful jobs, while there are others who think it consists of an exceptional amount of mundane work where you basically have to slog day and night. This article aims to clear the shroud of judgments attached to the term and tries to provide an unbiased view of what position of responsibilities entail at IIT Bombay.
We all come to IIT Bombay and attend the orientation sessions by infinite clubs. We see some amazing seniors donning cool hoodies and their aura leaves us spellbound. They confidently host events, arrange for artists/famous individuals, and proudly work for something larger than themselves. These people are majorly PoR holders. Be it Mood Indigo Core Group members, General Secretaries, or Club Secretaries, they are the seniors you hear of and the seniors you see.
The reasons vary from person to person but here are some common reasons why people take up PoRs:
PoRs give you the responsibility and authority to make decisions and reform the activities/events/outreach for a community. It helps you connect to the people in that team/club. The ‘senti’ for a club/team and a yearning to take up a managerial role to serve that community is the reason most people choose to take up a PoR.
PoRs also help one in spending some time apart from their academics and other activities that may interest them. It provides an avenue to utilize time well and assists in learning some valuable skills. Disclaimer: Take up a PoR only when you are genuinely interested in the work involved (be aware of this by asking the seniors therein); otherwise, you may lose interest during your tenure and you may regret the time commitment and the responsibility.
PoRs also help one in gaining perspective and exposure to new things. You develop soft skills and interpersonal skills. As IITians are generally considered poor at interpersonal skills, this is also one of the main reasons why people take up a PoR to get hands-on experience of holding a PoR and learning to interact better.
Then of course there is the reason where peer pressure makes one take up a PoR. Wingies or roomies encourage one to fill an application and they naively fill it up, not knowing that there lies a great journey ahead/misery ahead.
As Advitiya Sharma (Batch of ‘12) mentions in the article “WHAT’S IN A POR?” 4.0: 'Early on, we are much like a zero vector. We have little or no experience – the magnitude – and no sense of direction we want to pursue.' A PoR provides a platform to work for something and gain experience adding to the magnitude and providing some direction at the same time.
While taking up a position of responsibility occupies you with work and demands your commitment, you are sure to have a good share of learnings from your tenure. Along with getting an opportunity to work on something you are really passionate about, you learn to utilize your time better and serve a bigger purpose to create impact.
Working in a team connects you to people with different skill sets and styles, you develop a network of people with similar interests, who may end up becoming your closest friends to last a lifetime.
You learn good work ethics like working on a timeline, managing between your academics, personal interests, and responsibilities, and tackling some stressful situations. Your tenure hones your communication skills when you learn to convey your ideas concisely and tactically to a larger group of people. Apart from this you also learn about working in teams, develop negotiation skills, and handling stressful situations.
These are the things that finally end up differentiating you from your peers and oftentimes also help you in your career ahead.
As you get tied to this work, you may not be able to take out time for your academics, other technical interests that you want to pursue/explore, or personal relationships. You get lesser ‘lukkha’ time with your wingies and you may not be able to do the leisurely things that your other friends may be doing. A PoR also affects your self-study time that may end up affecting your CPI and/or your other interests.
A PoR also takes away some of your freedom and time to go out and try a new field of interest. There may be some opportunities that you might miss because you need to do work related to your PoR. For example, you might want to listen to some session on Finance but you might be a convener conducting some event elsewhere. There are also some clauses such as the fact that you may not get to do an internship during your tenure if you are a Core group member/Manager at an Institute Body.
It is also very possible that you lose interest in the work midway through the tenure. While it is strongly recommended that you take up such a role only when you are aware of the work involved, one may end up finding it monotonous and get stuck with it without the motivation to continue. To ensure this does not happen, you need to spend some time in isolation thinking about your motivation and ensure you attend all groundworks and ask questions you find relevant.
And as said, with great power comes great responsibility, being in a responsible position implies that you are answerable to a group of people and some failure in any associated activity may result in you facing the backlash.
While the process of selections for various PoRs is exhausting, time-consuming, and overwhelming, it is important to remember that not getting selected for it is not the end of the world. Nobody judges you for having lost an election or not getting through an interview, and this process doesn’t define or limit your future endeavors.
What is important is, how you choose to build your own journey ahead, and not chase along someone else’s trajectory as a defined ‘path for success’. It may dishearten you and make you question yourself, but take your time and share your feelings with your parents or friends. Also, take feedback from the seniors who took your interview or attended your SOP (statement of purpose) and discuss with them what needs to be improved.
After the process, think upon how this changes your plans for the next year and ahead and where you want to invest your time in. It may be exploring a new profile (eg. finance, management, consulting, coding etc.) or learning a new sport or a cultural activity or anything else that interests you.
With this article, we have tried to be as exhaustive as possible with the different pros and cons of a PoR.
However, it is very important to lay down pointers and goals that matter to you, think about your plan B, talk to seniors and take an informed decision rather than going with the herd mentality. What you might consider important such as interaction with wingies might not be the highest priority for someone else. So it is best to think for yourself and align your interests with your available options and then make a decision.
While everyone values PoRs a lot in the institute and some of you get the position you dreamt of, some may lose out. It is very important to make the most out of the experience in both cases. If you become a PoR holder, all the best for a bumpy ride! If you do not become a PoR holder, life has some ingenious ways to make us reach a ‘Point of Realization’ (PoR)! Maybe this is an opportunity to try out other amazing things, evaluate your choices, and emerge as a stronger person. Apna time aayega...and more importantly...Sabka time aayega:)