Post result time is the most taxing period for many students. This is the time when they have to take a prudent decision about their career.
NNE has always endeavored to provide the best possible counseling services to the students through its dedicated career counseling section. At this juncture we thought to provide you the views and guidance of an eminent career counselor.
Pervin Malhotra is India's top career counselor. Her immensely popular career query columns in the print and electronic media reach an estimated audience of 50 million. She is the Executive Director, Career Guidance India (CARING).
Her guidance has helped shape many futures. In this interview, she talks about how to select a particular career, the most important skill a student should possess, clears the perennial dilemma of college over subject or subject over college and much more.
Ques 1. In our education system, marks are very important. If I don’t get good marks in say, mathematics, but, I want to work as a media planner, how do I judge my skills?
A career in Media planning does require a considerable amount of number crunching and mathematical skills, but I believe that if you are very keen and focused on your goal, you will work hard to overcome the obstacles in your path. Of course, you do require a basic level of understanding of subjects, like mathematics, in this case, but if you are interested in a particular field, your passion can compensate for your lack of qualification to some extent.
Ques 2. One skill needed in every/almost all professions?
One skill needed in almost all professions has to be communication. Of course, the extent may vary. For example, in a profession like that of a research scientist, you may not be required to communicate as much as in customer facing professions like sales, marketing or even teaching, but even a researcher is required to communicate his findings to his peers and share the benefits of his findings with people. Even for professionals like medical practitioners, communicating with patients, and understanding their problems is important.
Ques 3. Now, with class 10 and class 12 results coming out, soon, what would you suggest a 16-year old, who is on the verge of choosing a career & does not know himself too well? The decision s/he takes might be influenced by his/her peers, or someone whose sense of judgment s/he trusts, but it may not necessarily be right for him/her?
For a 16 year old, decisions taken are largely influenced by his/her peers. But, there are over 3,500 professions, and what may be right for one person, might not be right for someone else. It helps to be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses. What s/he can do is make a list of his interests, likes and dislikes, ask questions like “do I like to study a particular subject? Do I like sports more than studies? Do I like to take part in extra-curricular activities?” Then, on the basis of that list, try finding careers related to one’s likes and aptitude. For example, if someone likes to write, s/he can find careers that involve writing and enroll for a course related to that, like mass communication, for instance. Apart from this, there are some self-assessment tools available in the market, but the important thing to keep in mind about these tools is to ensure that the test is a bonafide one and that the norms are duly validated. For instance, we, at Career Guidance India (CARING), have an excellent tried and tested tool that can help students assess their aptitude and career interests.
Also, in case a student is not sure about what s/he wants, it helps to choose a stream that will keep the maximum number of options open. For example, dropping a subject like mathematics directly closes the options like engineering, BBS, BCom (Hon), BBE, MCA etc.
Ques 4. College over subject or subject over college, what would you suggest? Continuing, would you recommend that a student drop a year?
Ans 4. Your college tenure will stretch over 3-4 years. In case you are not sure about which specific career to choose, join a good college keep your eyes and ears open, and explore your options during that time. But, in case a student is very sure about his career, it should always be subject over college. That’s what will take him to his desired goal.
Personally, I would never recommend someone to drop a year. One year is a long time. One might start off with enthusiasm, but sustaining that enthusiasm and zeal throughout the year is very tough. It might start with simple things like waking up late, wasting time on the internet, task stretching, and before you realize, the year is up! Also, I believe that the young should be with the young. I would rather suggest the student to enroll for some course and keep preparing side-by-side.
Ques 5. Parents have apprehensions about taking a loan for an offbeat career than “wasting” money on a course that is more “socially accepted”. What are your views?
I will take an extreme example. Please draw the analogy. Not many have deep enough pockets to sponsor education in the field of, say, motor sports. But, if you have keen interest in motor sports, you can look at related fields like sports journalism, test driving cars and bikes, writing about cars, become an automotive photographer, design cars, remodel cars and do umpteen other things related to your passion. So, before taking a plunge into a particular field, try to find the viability of that field and compare it with your strengths, availability of funds etc.
Ques 6. In quite a few universities, there is sports quota and admission on the basis of academics. Do you feel the two should be clubbed together?
I don’t know about clubbing them together, but life is not about academics alone. A healthy balance should be maintained; it should not be that students turn out to be nerds, or, for that matter, start ignoring education completely. While clubbing the two, due consideration should be given to both, extra curricular activities and marks. It should not be that someone who is very good in a certain sport and gets 55% marks gets admitted to a college with 90% cut-off.
Ques 7. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), how will it change the entire higher education system, according to you? Will it bring the standards down? Will it help in churning out all-round developed students?
If implemented properly, I think Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation would produce students with all-round developed skills. Some amount of stress is good, and with CCE, the stress would be distributed evenly. You will not have students sparing during term-time and spending sleepless nights during exams. With emphasis also being laid on extra curricular activities, you will have more balanced students. It is a big excuse that mixing extra-curricular activities with assignments and projects would increase the stress levels, life is all about multitasking, balancing one thing with other. If implemented in an unbiased manner, and in spirit, I believe CCE will produce well-developed students.