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BW Businessworld

Rarely A Straight Road

One of the most important things education does for us is to help us earn a livelihood. So it’s important for not just students, but also their parents and teachers, to be aware of career possibilities. This helps not only during the career exploration process, but also for the lifelong process of career development.

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By Jayanti Ghose

One of the most important things education does for us is to help us earn a livelihood. So it’s important for not just students, but also their parents and teachers, to be aware of career possibilities. This helps not only during the career exploration process, but also for the lifelong process of career development.

Career education is crucial for students entering secondary school, as they need to understand the relevance of various subjects for future professional and academic pathways. It is also important to pay attention to one’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and to appreciate the value of extracurricular activities and the development of communications skills.

Right After School
There aren’t really any good or bad courses or careers. Appropriate choices are those that are in tune with one’s strengths and talents. Students who aren’t academically inclined, or who need to start earning soon, can opt after Class 10 for vocational, technical, or non-technical diploma courses.

Those who move on to ‘plus two’ make choices with long-term career implications. So students whose forte is physics, chemistry, mathematics and English may consider engineering, pharmacy, agricultural sciences or engineering, dairy technology, pilot training, and prosthetics and orthotics.

Students good at biology could go on to do their MBBS, BHMS (homeopathy), BAMS (ayurveda), BSMS (siddha), BUMS (unani), dentistry, veterinary science, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, optometry, nursing, home science, and various branches of agricultural sciences.

After Class 12 in any discipline, professional options include law, architecture, fine arts, design, fashion, hotel management, culinary arts, chartered accountancy, cost accountancy, company secretaryship.

Boys can enter the Air Force and Navy after passing Class 12 in any arts or sciences subject, via the National Defence. Boys and girls can join the defence forces via the MBBS course at the Armed Forces Medical College, and only girls may apply for military nursing service.

Architecture courses are of five years’ duration, and open to students who study maths up to Class 12. An architecture aptitude test is necessary for admission, and it requires drawing and observation skills, a sense of proportion, aesthetic sensitivity and critical thinking ability. Admission to design and fine arts courses also requires an aptitude test. So does admission to hotel management and law degree courses after class 12.

Five-year integrated master’s programmes in the sciences, mass communication, foreign languages, English, development studies, and some other fields offer students who have completed Class 12 in an appropriate discipline to move seamlessly through the bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. Of course, this requires students to be sure of their commitment for the next five years.

Integrated BS-MS or MSc programmes have been introduced in the past decade for teaching the sciences in an intellectually vibrant atmosphere of research.
If you’re not clear about your long-term goals, the conventional approach of a bachelor’s degree and postgraduation remains in place. However, you still have to make decisions about subjects, and it’s important to have a clear understanding about future prospects.


Just as students completing plus two may take up professional education, there are postgraduate level professional programmes as well.

Among the wide variety of options are LLB (three-year law degree), MBA, master’s or postgraduate diploma in communication, advertising, public relations, social work, library sciences, teaching, hospital administration, travel and tourism management, leisure and recreation management, human resource management, labour welfare, and securities and financial markets management, which are open to graduates of all disciplines.

Packaging technology, cement technology, environmental science, ecology, jute technology and management, wood science and technology, environment management, cellulose and paper technology, and natural resource management are among the diverse range of science-oriented professional programmes for graduates with relevant subjects.

Postgraduates in geology, biotechnology, chemistry, physics, botany, zoology, anthropology, statistics, mathematics, computer science and applications, sociology, languages, psychology, economics, and other fields may seek openings in academia or businesses where the subject knowledge is relevant.

Entry into most postgraduate programmes is based on an entrance exam and interview. The more popular the programme and institution, the more competitive the selection process. Opportunities in higher education and research require a PhD. The route to this may be after postgraduation or via MPhil. You would have to pass an entrance exam.

Jobs For Graduates

Graduates can work in banking, retail, insurance, marketing, sales, customer relations, and other areas, based on a combination of academic background, personality, and skills. Opportunities are diversifying, as is demand for professional training in different fields. Work experience and exposure can help you make the right education choices to establish your career as a professional.

Joining the government or a public-sector organisation is usually through a national-level competitive process. Some organisations that conduct the processes for entry into these services are the UPSC, Staff Selection Commission, and Services Selection Boards.

Current Trends

Interdisciplinary is the way forward, be it in science, business, or arts. There are new ways of doing business, with online and offline complementing each other, in retail, education, banking, payments, and so on. Among the fields that have opened up in recent years are artificial intelligence, space tourism, interactive entertainment, and digital music. Some jobs will disappear, but new ones will appear that we cannot even imagine today. This has happened throughout history.

The demand for care workers will grow, for a large and growing population of senior citizens living at home or in special homes for the elderly. We will need more doctors trained in the transplant of artificial organs, and prosthetic designers who use materials such as carbon fibre and titanium. With the rise of social media, we will need social media managers. A looming ecological crisis means careers in waste and resource management. Only those who keep abreast of emerging trends, and continue to learn, unlearn and relearn can remain relevant.

Technology has transformed the recruitment process. The CV is no longer the only way to apply for jobs. It is becoming part of a broader and more rigorous recruitment process. New technology lets you display your skills in creative ways. It’s up to you how convincingly you use it.

The Way Ahead
A career path is rarely a straight road. As well as moving forwards, at times you might go sideways, backwards, stay put, or decide on a different path altogether. The structure of work is always changing, so consider your career a lifelong journey, not a destination. Take responsibility for it by thinking about developing a range of transferable skills, seeking feedback, getting tertiary education and specific skill training, and seeking a mentor or coach.

In the future, we will be competing with more highly qualified people for higher level jobs. Getting higher levels of qualification would be a smart move. Rather than focusing on a sector because of career prospects you see today, study what you enjoy and are good at, because employment trends will evolve, and you don’t want to be stuck in a field you don’t really enjoy.

The idea of a job for life is getting outdated. The world of careers has changed dramatically in the last decade, and will change even more in the next two decades. Critical thinking and contextual awareness will become more important. Make continuing education a way of life to keep up with the job market.

The author is a career and education consultant

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)