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Friday, May 27, 2011

Shift from Science to Economics ?

Read a story in times of India about a student, Manu Rathore, from Jaipur. A typical science student who had scored 92.6% in CBSE Class XII. Like any other PCM student, he wanted to go into Engineering. While working on a project Consumer Awareness in Rural India' with Consumer Unity & Trust Society -- International (CUTS) - in a village near Amber in Jaipur, during summer vacation last year, he developed interest in economics. As he explained his interest in economics, he said, "I have realised a clear divide between the rural and urban India while working on the project. This gap can be bridged only with economic literacy".

Whenever we see such a change in career path, we are surprised. But there is often a clue in the past career track to suggest that this could have happened. So i searched for something. To my surprise ( not really!) i found one strong clue. His father, Vijay Veer Singh, is Head of department of economics, Rajasthan University (RU). Infact Manu belongs to a highly educated family with his mother a income tax commissioner in Mumbai. It is my gut feeling that, if we talk to Manu, we may find some more clues of his interest in Economics, that could have been seeded. The project in Economics only kindled the desire which was latent !

I had a friend of mine, whose son ( let us call him Anand) wanted to go to Engineering, after finishing his XIIth. He therefore joined a IIT course in Mumbai. However, he found a very good teacher in Economics in his school. Despite his avowed interest in IT as a special subject, he chose Economics as his special subject. I was not surprised. But unlike Manu, he does not have anyone close in the family who has done Economics. What do you think will he chose after 12th class? Engineering or Economics?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do not follow others in making your career?

I met Abhijeet yesterday. He is a IIT'ian doing his third year degree in Material Science. He has gone into IIT after taking a drop one year at Higher secondary. He asked me 'What is CFA'? When i asked him the reason of asking this question, he said his other friends in IIT are also planning to do CFA and he would like to know if CFA is worth doing?

All the courses are good. CFA is good, MBA is good, learning SAP is good. But the real question that a student should ask is ' Is it good for me?' I have seen MBA students later doing IAS to join Government job, or CFA students taking over a NGO job and so on. Instead of thinking which course is good or bad, it is more useful to think whether the course is right for me or not?

Why do students start exploring such courses in the first place? Why is Abhijit trying to find about CFA in his third year of IIT when he has taken so much effort in entering IIT? ( Please remember that getting into IIT is more difficult than getting into Harvard !) As i pointed out in my blog for children, thinking competency unfolds in unpredictable ways. Having entered IIT, Abhijit has discovered that technology is not the path that is meant for him. And because he has discovered that IIT is not meant for him, he is exploring other paths. Everything attracts him. He finds all other options attractive.

As a careerologist, i would like to say Abhijit is lucky to find that 'technology path' is not meant for him. ( Many executives discover this in their 40's) But having discovered that IIT is not meant for him, he needs to explore other options methodically. Like a drowning man frantically splashing his hand, he should not frantically seek everything. Instead he needs to concentrate on finding what he is good at, or where his interests lie. He needs to explore his mind. Unfortunately, this skill is not taught in any course to any graduate. Unaware of how to explore his mind, Abhijeet is more confused. He is doing what most of us do: follow others.

Will mind exploration help him chose his path before he finishes his graduation? Given insufficient skills, the time may not be enough. In that case, he also has to prepare for Plan B. He has to find an alternative, because life does not wait for our decisions. This is all about being career- intelligent.