Monday, January 17, 2011

Career Counselling? WTH!

I believe that one of the biggest problems that the Indian youth face nowadays is regarding choice of career. Most do not take a decision for themselves, and let their parents/relatives decide. Which can turn out to be disastrous since nobody knows you better than yourself. I have heard many of my friends say the same thing over and over again-‘Yaar, I don’t know what I want to do in life. I am not sure which career to opt for, or what to do in future. I am not satisfied with my current situation/my job/my life/etc.’ Many of them opt for safe courses- Engineering, Medical, Management, etc which can guarantee them jobs. But what after that? If you get into a job which doesn’t suit your aptitude, then you will struggle throughout your life.

Anyways, I recently read ‘Serious Men’, written by a journalist, Manu Joseph, who is also the editor of the Open magazine. It’s a fantastic novel, dealing with current day Mumbai, Science, Astronomy, Love, Sarcasm, Reservation, Education, Poverty, etc. Highly recommended novel, and a well deserving winner of the Hindu 2010 Literary award. I am quoting an entire page from the same[Verbatim]:

This, Ayyan accepted, was life. It was, in a way, a fortunate life. It would go on and on like this. And one day, very soon in fact, Adi would be an adolescent. An adolescent son of a clerk. A miserable thing to be in this country. He would have to forget all his dreams and tell himself that what he wanted to do was engineering. It’s the only hope, everyone would tell him. Engineering, Adi would realize, is every mother’s advice to her son, a father’s irrevocable decision, a boy’s first foreboding of life. A certainty, like death, that was long decided in the cradle. Sooner or later, he would have to call it his ambition. And to attain it, he would compete with thousands and thousands of boys like him in the only human activity for which Indians had a special talent. Objective-type entrance exams. Very few tests in the world would be tougher than these. So, in the enchanting years of early youth, when the mind is wild, and the limbs are strong, he would not run free by the sea or try to squeeze the growing breasts of wary girls. Instead he would sit like an ascetic in a one-room home and master something called quantitative ability. ‘If three natural numbers are randomly selected from one to hundred then what is the probability that all three are divisible by both two and three?’

He would have to answer this probably in thirty seconds in order to stand any chance against boys who were barely seven when they were fed iron capsules and sample-question papers for this very purpose; who had attended tuitions and memorized all the formulae in the world before they had learnt how to masturbate; whose parents whispered into their ears every day of their lives the answer to the decisive question: ’What do you want to become in life?’ Adi would have to fight them for a sliver of the future that men of God reviled without conviction as the ‘material world’, exactly the place that a father wishes for his son. Adi, despite the misfortunes of poverty, would somehow have to find a way to get into an engineering college. And then ensure that he did not spend a single day of his life as an engineer. Because everyone would tell him then that the real money was in MBA.

And so, even before the engineering course was over, he would start all over again, and prepare to battle thousands and thousands of boys like him in yet more entrance exams. When he finally made it and became a zombie who had entirely forgotten what he really wanted to do with his life, the light-skinned boys in the dormitory would look at him with a sad chuckle and whisper among themselves that he was a beneficiary of a 15 per cent reservation for the Dalits. ‘Lucky bastard,’ they would say.

Okay, I agree that the above page is highly exaggerated, in fact to the extreme. Obviously not ALL boys are taking up engineering, and Indians are definitely not good in just competitive exams, to name a few. But the point to be noted is the thing in General which the author wants to say. Lack of clarity in making the biggest decision of one’s Life- Career choice. Doing engineering and MBA from a good college will almost surely fetch you a good job, and that is the only reason why people do it. Because that way, at least they can earn and sustain a living in this highly competitive global environment. Even if they have to sacrifice their dreams for it. There are many people who say that let them do engineering and MBA first, and then they will try to achieve their dreams. That is just an excuse for avoiding risks, and rarely if ever wills such people achieve their goals. At max, they can earn a comfortable living in this materialistic world.

Unfortunately, in India, the concept of career counseling is almost non-existent. 90% of Indian students take up a career/course which is not suited to their aptitude/liking. No wonder they get frustrated and depressed, many even take the extreme step of committing suicide. To avoid such incidents, I believe that schools should include mandatory career counseling say for students in standard 9th or 10th. Parents should also be counseled and told not to interfere in the personal decision of the student. It is a very big misconception that only engineers and managers can get good jobs. It’s a commonly known fact that Indians only look up to education as a means to getting a job, and not as something to gain knowledge/skills/experience/etc. It’s the lure of those attractive placements that students automatically gravitate towards IITs and IIMs. I have met very few people who wanted to study in an IIT because they had an interest in Science or Engineering. We really need more students like Rancho from 3 Idiots[played by Aamir Khan].

If only people started following their own passion for a change, it would benefit us all. But are they ready to give up the security of a high paying job and take a risk? The future will tell.


Motifs said...

This is what I have always thought about your posts,your level of maturity shows in your style of writing and about the sensitive issues you select..well done...I hope this will help many...

cutie.pie said...

awesome one....very well said.... *superlike* and i agree with above comment totally :D

Girl with a red bag said...

Very true.. one should always do what they r passionate about.. By chasing Ur dreams life becomes worth living

Golden Beard said...

I do like your blog but here are my thoughts.

For a son of a clerk or anyone in the middle income what is wrong in choosing a career which will guarantee him a good job ? The whole point of doing engineering is that there are surplus amount of jobs in comparison to other fields and the money is good. It’s a low risk investment for the family ! The whole idea of following your dream might not really be feasible cause you might WANT to do something but the pay might be tremendously low or the jobs in that area might be few. Well you could argue that one needs to follow one’s passion the flame that keeps you alive without with your just another zombie. I look at it this way do engineering get into a well paid job and find your place close to your passion, that way you find both money and something you like.

I do agree that career counseling might help one understand a lot of things better and provide clarity and confidence in choosing the right path.

What do you think ?

Satwinder Singh said...

@Motifs: Thanks a lot, all your comments are quite valuable. :)

@cutie.pie: Thanks a lot for your comment.. :)

@Girl with Red Bag: Interesting name, btw. Are you new to blogging, or is that a new blog? And thanks for the comment. :)

@Golden Beard: Another interesting name. Your logic is absolutely correct and valid, especially in the Indian context. Its actually the reality. But you applied a condition- Assuming the person is from a not-so-good background and first he wants to accumulate resources by doing a job, in that case engineering may be suited to him. And the other case is also appropriate- First do engineering then go for your passion[ Chetan Bhagat, Harsha Bhogle, etc].

However, I personally do not approve of the 2nd situation. I believe that if we have career counselling in the school level itself, we can help/guide people into making an appropriate career choice not decided by their parents, but by themselves. :)

EduGroomers said...

Nice Blog. is another good website for career counseling and guidance.

Growth centre said...

Hope this helps many...
Career Counseling Services in Mumbai

Varun Mathur said...

Career Planning is a delicately balanced subject. It remains tricky and is a complex processes which requires a comprehensive thought process and astute planning.
In terms of the time when you should decide what you want to become, two landmark years are: when you are studdying in high school and are ready to decide which stream of education you will choose; and secindly when you are in senior secondary school, about to enter college, when you pick up the course of your choice.

Students in Class 10 aiming to builds a career in the field of science/enineering/medicine aim for good scores to be able to get into the science stream in good colleges and schools, before they actually start preparing for the firld they would compete in - MBBS IIT etc. With increasing cut off rates, there is also a mad clamor for scores in Plus II.

Students are often driven by peer pressure while choosing a course. "All my friends are trying to get into economics, what will I do studying literature?" some might assume. However it is important for a student to take into account several questions before picking up a career for himself.

CareerCo can help with your process by aiding the act of knowing yourself, and which careers are suitable for you through psychometric Assessments and personalized counselling.

Varun Mathur said...

You must objectively get the data points about your interests, skills, aptitude, likes and dislikes and your personality. This aim is best achieved when an assessment is carried out by a third party. This helps in getting certain latent traits out which might play a vital role in career planning. If this is not done objectively, then chances of bias set in and colour your final decision.

Here is why this exercise is important in choosing a career. If you become an engineer reluctantly, you might well spend a life doing well for yourselves, but will more than often, only partially enjoy your work. A person will excel in the field which he or she is the most passionate about and more importantly has the right aptitude and talent for.

If Sachin Tendulkar had become a lawyer, it would hardly make a difference to field of Law, but for cricket, it would be a colossal loss.

CareerCo, with its scientifically designed psychometric assessments, allows you to know more about yourself, and also provides recommendations on which careers to choose that are best suited to your personality.

Career Planning becomes clear and easy when you have the right guidance!!

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