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Opportunities are increasing more than competition

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I am appalled at the number of very average students who are made to dream from their 8th or 9th standard about becoming an IIT-ian, and I am equally pained when I see their disappointment and frustration when they cannot make it.  Less than 1% of all those who aspire for IIT actually get a seat, yet there are lakhs who dream of the great institution as their prize-winning lottery ticket.

Today India, and more so states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu boast of some equally good engineering colleges, with many other add-ons or extra-curricular activities that can widen the learning base of prospective engineers.  The same is true of many other courses that lead to very rewarding careers.  Yet it is sad that all we hear is about “competition”, and students who cannot get 90-95% are made to feel that they do not have a promising future.

Variety in Existing Reputed Fields

Let us start with the wide variety that is available today in the traditional fields.  In Karnataka alone, there are over 30 branches of engineering offered by various colleges and universities.  There are private universities that hold their own entrance exams to courses that are very innovative and industry-oriented.  There are autonomous colleges that upgrade their syllabus and teaching methodology to give state-of-the-art education.  There is lateral entry available in 2nd year of B.E. to students who have completed their Polytechnic Diploma, and AMIE (equivalent to B.E.) is offered to working people who cannot join regular engineering colleges.  Added to that are integrated B.Tech + M.Tech as also B.E. + MBA courses, which simultaneously get the student double qualifications.

School teachers in government as well as private and non-profit institutions are now being sought after by many youngsters which seems to be at par with the corporate sector.

Similarly, medical studies is no longer restricted to MBBS. There are four other streams of medicine i.e. Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and lately Naturopathy has been added to it.  Each of these make the student a qualified physician.  On the other hand, allopathy has expanded into paramedical fields such as Radiography, Dialysis Technology, Speech Pathology and Audiology, Optometry, Operation Theater technology, Physiotherapy, and many others.  Pharmacy and Nursing have taken rapid strides, and so has Veterinary Medicine, offering remunerative careers.  For non-medical personnel interested in health care, there is Hospital Administration, Health Care Management, Clinical Research, Biomedical engineering etc.

Traditional Careers rewarding much better

School teachers in government as well as private and non-profit institutions are now being sought after by many youngsters which seems to be at par with the corporate sector.  Collegiate education has become even more remunerative, and teaching has expanded to companies’ training centres, training consultancies, adjunct professors (who teach fixed hours per week and are free to pursue other interests), special educators dealing with differently abled children, Life Skills trainers, English Language training centres, and on-line tutors teaching students in Western countries from home, and being paid in well.

Once upon a time artists, designers and writers were respected but not paid.  One could not make a stable income through these skills – but with the advent of technology, those with creative minds can become very successful architects, interior or fashion designers, specialists in accessories or footwear design, animation and games producers, web-page designers, to name just a few.  There are now dozens of very appealing D-schools (colleges offering degree and diploma courses in general design or specialized areas like transportation, product, furniture, multimedia, film-making, etc. Similarly, if you are an excellent writer or communicator, you can take up a profession in content writing, blogs or portals, publishing, e-books, curriculum designers, and in advertising.

The legal profession was not very popular till the advent of the 11 National Law Schools, who gave a totally different meaning to the field.  Graduates from any reputed Law School do not only have to work in litigation (court cases), but can seek jobs in international trade, mediation and arbitration, conveyancing (preparing agreements), human rights, patenting and intellectual property rights.

Military service was not very popular because of the tough working conditions, limited salaries, and lack of family life.  Slowly a marked change has seeped in.  The Sixth Pay Commission has made military salaries very lucrative.  Housing and living conditions have improved.  There are ample opportunities to upgrade skills and qualifications for later years, post-retirement jobs are plentiful, schooling, domestic items and health care is highly subsidized.  And finally, the pension and life-long care ensures very comfortable living to the very end.

Newer Fields

The IT industry has spawned many new fields beyond programming and coding. One can become a specialist in knowledge processing, technical writing, software testing, Cloud Computing, ethical hacking, networking, or Enterprise Resource Planning.  These fields can be entered by many private job-oriented courses such as SAP, PMP, CCNA, CCNP etc. which are open to students from any background.

Pure sciences have made a come-back after decades.  IISERs and NISERs offer excellent education in every branch of physical and life sciences, IISc has started a 4-year B.S. course where students study all aspects of science for 2 years and then choose their specialization.

Management training has branched out into very wide range including Plantation management, biotech, pharma, sustainable development, social enterprise, event, education and health care management.  Many specialized B-schools offer exclusive courses to prepare professionals in each of these areas.

Even reputed institutions like IITs, NITs, BITS Pilani etc. have expanded into humanities, pure sciences, design, industrial management – and admission is far easier to these courses than the highly competitive JEE for engineering seats.

Pure sciences have made a come-back after decades.  IISERs and NISERs offer excellent education in every branch of physical and life sciences, IISc has started a 4-year B.S. course where students study all aspects of science for 2 years and then choose their specialization. Many universities offer integrated 5-year M.Sc. for students who have completed 10+2.

Liberal Arts is another fascinating addition for those who think outside the box.  From Ambedkar University Delhi to FLAME at Pune, many reputed institutions are offering courses that are beyond and different from the routine B.A. degrees.  Psychology and Counselling has acquired greater significance in the era of high-stress corporate lifestyle, and many courses, both academic and practical-oriented, are available both at under-graduate and post-graduate level. Students have an opportunity to explore the world of human beings, which is getting more and more significance as we move into higher technology and greater prosperity.  For, it is a fact that all progress is meant for the welfare and well-being of humans and those who choose the new and challenging courses in social sciences can expect a very bright future in the decades to come.

If you are on the crossroads of selecting a career, become aware of these wonderful and promising opportunities.  Avoid the herd mentality, have a mind of your own.  Consult knowledgeable experts, browse the Internet, get more and more information, and ….. launch yourself into a rewarding and enjoyable career.

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is a Montessorian, an engineering graduate of IIT, MIE, MIIM, with a Ph.D in behavioral sciences. He is the founder and head of Banjara Academy, a unique institution committed to improvement of quality of life. He has spent more than three decades as a close observer of careers, jobs and diversity of professions.

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