Now that the CBSE and other such school-leaving examinations are underway, it may not be out of place to look at the opportunities for the college education that prevail in the National Capital Region (NCR). This column offers analysis and guidance for those students who wish to pay sane attention to possible routes to their future careers.
Don't chase brands
The idea is to make students and their guardians aware of the pathways of pursuit in higher education. Let me also make clear that we are not focusing on some of the excellent technological institutions such as the IITs, the Delhi Technological University, the NITs, the IIITs and the Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology.
These are outstanding institutions and they subscribe to a different process for admission purposes. The point that I am trying to make is that much can be gained by a student aspiring to seek meaningful avenues for higher education in NCR even outside of the above-named institutions of technological education. In other words, there is life even outside of the well-regarded institutions of technology.
I say this because I find that corporate institutions and such employers are increasingly on the lookout for students who have a special set of skills, which centre around the ability to process and analyse information and communicate the same in reasonable time and manner.
Additionally, they must have the ability to process and analyse data through software packages that are available in any standard software for office use. At this point, I must make clear that what really counts as a bonus of great value for a potential employer is if the student is at home with coding especially in the languages Python and/or R.
Potential employers consistently maintain that they prefer to hire students who have, during the course of their formal studies, participated in group activities. They are happy to seriously consider applicants who have worked on projects with specific objectives and where the skills of the participating students complement each other's abilities. The employers maintain that students, who possess some of the above skillsets and have also been active participants in group-based projects, generally acquit themselves well in their jobs. The alert reader must have noticed that I have not mentioned any specific discipline or college that could be deemed as a must for students to enrol in for enhancing their career prospects.
Corporate employers are on the lookout for students with the ability to process and analyse information and communicate it in a reasonable time and manner. (Representational photo: Reuters)
The reason for this is that the corporate sector has begun to notice that the above-needed skills are not specific to a discipline. In fact, these skills are far more integral to the persona and personal preferences of college students. However, there are some disciplines that tend to give a student a slightly greater advantage when it comes to the matter of seeking jobs in corporate institutions. These are disciplines such as economics, statistics, commerce, physics, computer science and mathematics.
Focus on skills
What are the special advantages that such disciplines offer over others? It is just that by virtue of the curriculum that goes with these disciplines, students tend to have had some exposure to handling data and also the ability to write code to an extent. The moot point is that there is nothing very specific in the curriculum of these disciplines that can give their students any special advantages. I am reminded of the very recent and true story of a graduate in Manhattan who was earning a bare-minimum wage as a waitress after having acquired a college degree in English literature. At some stage, she decided to opt for a course in handling data that lasted about six months. She was good at communication strategies simply by virtue of her course work and also due to her job as a waitress. In no time, after the completion of her data-based course, she acquired a job that paid her a six-figure salary in US dollars. And this is not an isolated case.
Globally, there's a dearth, of people who have the skills that I have outlined above. The point that I am trying to make is that these skills are not specific to any one discipline or college. Let me bolster my point by narrating the outcome of an experiment that I have just concluded.
Study the job market
About six months ago, I randomly selected two undergraduate students of the University of Delhi. They had below-average grades in their university examinations and were enrolled in meaningless programmes of study. These two had never handled a personal computer.
I offered them the use of personal laptops and gave them a simple introduction to the data-handling program Excel and on how to use the Internet as a knowledge device. I gave them specific problems with no hints as to how to find their solutions. I also told them to work as a team and to use the Internet to hone their communication skills.
At this point in time, their ability to converse in English and their knowledge of probability for practical purposes is indeed quite impressive. So much so that a successful startup has offered them internships that shall lead to regular jobs.
So, I end with just this simple piece of advice. Choose a programme of study that resonates closest to your heart. Do not worry too much about where you are enrolled. Make friends with peers who have the desire to learn and are keen to make something out of their lives. Use any means to acquire the skill sets that I have outlined above. Make yourself as adept as you can through self-effort and take full advantage of whatever opportunities and facilities the college offers you. Do not neglect your formal studies and your chances of success shall have increased greatly howsoever you define success.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)