Education in India Part III – Lack of awareness in students about career choices – drive or be driven ?

This is the third article in the series of articles I am writing on my views on the education in India.  In both the previous articles, I wrote little stories about my own feeling and thinking during the time I was student.

Here is another little story. This time, about the choices in life we have to make as a student. Most importantly, about the career choices.

I would again like to take you back to my student days when I was in the MNREC, studying the Computer science engineering. I was in 3rd year and as a part of our group discussions within my GD group, another topic we used to touch was the “dream company” and where each one of us would fit in, eventually, knowing our capabilities.  Obviously, in the 3rd year of our engineering, none of us knew what was in store for all of us, including the future employers or the work we wanted to do in our life. In fact, we knew a little about the software industry and what kind of work happens once you go in the corporate world.

The introduction of the IT industry for all of us was one where you do lot of programming and you must have great logic and problem solving skills.

Partly right, because even today, majority of the software industry is driven by developers and they drive the industry forward. However, its equally true that software industry does not only consists of developers !!

When we entered into final year and the companies started rushing in our college to do campus interviews, we started to understand few rules of the games that probably sounded little bit confusing to me. Some of the most notable were as follows,

  • All the companies essentially had a cut off by percentage for the people who could actually be eligible to apply
  • Most of the companies chose to only opt for Computer Science and Electronic engineering students and other stream students were not allowed to sit for the exams
  • Aptitude tests were compulsory for most of the companies and again, there was a cut off with passing percentage

Career choices ?Eventually I got through a top MNC and was placed in one of their offices. When I entered the corporate world along with few of my friends, we found ourselves “grouped” into technology verticals based on our academic record.  All the students who had computer science or electronics engineering background, were grouped into “Open source” or “web technologies” group. All the students who had non-CSE background were grouped under “legacy” or “Mainframe” technology group

Once the grouping happened, the related entry level training started. After a month of rigorous training, we all were placed on live projects eventually.  Over a period of time, few new people from either of groups could not survive and had to leave the company because company thought they could not perform up to their expectation level.

 

 

If you have read the story carefully, you would have known the following facts,

  • The hiring company has strict eligibility criteria so only “good” students could be filtered through
  • Only good students eventually got the job through aptitude, group discussions and interview filtering criteria
  • The hiring company decided who goes in which group based on their academic background (i.e., open source vs mainframe)
  • The hiring company put expectations on the employees and raised the bar based on the training provided against specific “technologies”
  • When few people failed, they were shown the door out
  • Remember, all were excellent students !!

So, where do you think things would have gone wrong ! We had good students with very good academic records selected through a stringent criteria.

In my opinion, the we have two fold problem here.

1. General lack of awareness about career options within IT field (development, support, maintenance, testing, process management etc)

2. Generic assumption by employers that everyone is fit to do everything

The first problem is about making students aware of the opportunities that lie within the corporate world that are not “development” kind of jobs. 

Awareness about career choices is a key issue we currently face in the premier institutes. The students tend to choose their career by the name of the hiring company, than the the work they would eventually want to do and would enjoy more.

I have seen students who are very good academically but not so good programmers. Their strength was in their analysis of situation and power to remember things and follow certain laid out procedures. These people could make an excellent career in “testing field”.  Similarly someone who is keen to explore new stuff and learn more each time and think out of box could be very good for “Research & development & innovation cells”.  Some people who have shown good organization and management skills they can rather build their career around program management etc.

Not everyone is born to be a developer !

The second problem only compliments the first one by giving both corporate businesses and students a platform to prove the mismatch.  It is obvious that the student who is not so good in problem solving techniques and algorithm building, can not be a good programmer. 

The companies today pay huge money to do the campus recruitment and hire top talent. Unfortunately, if the fitment between the type of person (student) and does not happen, the person eventually leaves in a year or two out of frustration and looks for change.  This means that these companies are more often than not are tend to lose money that they have invested in these people before getting full recovery out.

I know it is a complex problem and we may not have a ready solution for this but I think it is worth considering.

What do you think ?

3 comments

  1. The onus of retaining new recruits lies on the companies because the cost of recruitment is very high. If an employee is leaving on his own, it is the duty of the company to find out the reason for the same. Exit interviews will throw light on the reasons employees choose to leave the organization.

    It is sad to hear that companies sack the new recruits!! It is a bad practice. If the prospective students come to know about it, they will not like to join such organizations.

    The article shows why industry interaction with educational institutions is important in order to groom students with industry specific skills.

    1. Dear Dr Usha Krishna,

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting on the article. I am of the opinion that most of the IT companies take use of the “flexible” and “adaptable” indian nature where most of eventually adjust to the life that is thrown on us. Without really us making any more choices. I guess from the work and employment perspective, it really starts at the university level where we have to make critical decisions about the career. The students, due to lack of awareness about career options, tend to go with the flow without really thinking about other and possibly more suitable options. I guess, we need someone who can do profiling of students based on their nature where we can build and guide them to right career in order to avoid potential mismatches.

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