There was a dialogue in a famous 2009 Hindi movie ‘3 Idiots’ – roughly translated: We’ll study, but not just to pass the exams or to get a job. We’ll study for excellence… to become capable, and success will follow no matter what.
While the Rajkumar Hirani venture was a run away hit and adored for its progressive take on India’s higher education system, which is stuck in a time warp, how many of us actually follow that thought process?
There’s no doubt that getting a job is important, mostly because it provides you with money, without which you can’t really do much in this world where prices only keep rising. That a job gives you a sense of identity, helps you learn new skills and make new friends, is all secondary. If a job paid you no money, you wouldn’t do it – period.
Now, take a minute and think: Have you come across anyone in your life who has remained permanently jobless, or never ever made a single penny? Chances are, your answer will be a resounding no, unless you are thinking of a slum idiot, who’d rather drown himself in alcohol than venture out looking for employment.
The bottom line: Everyone worth their salt gets a job sooner or later. If not a job, they find other avenues to make money. It’s the norm of the world.
While interviewing for this issue’s story on joblessness among engineers, we came across several unemployed graduates, who are living with an unfounded fear that they might never get jobs. One of them even said that he “regretted” studying engineering because even after two years of graduating with distinction he was struggling to lock in a job.
Is this why we spend 20 years of our lives attending school and college? To get a job that pays the bills?
Obtaining a higher education is only proof that you can succeed in academia, not in a real-world job situation. A degree can only show that you have the specialized knowledge or technical skills that an employer may be looking for.
But even that does not hold true in India, where there is a major disconnect between what we are taught in schools and colleges and what the industry needs.
Here are some facts: Only 40% of engineering students in India undergo internships while only 36% take up projects beyond their required coursework. Only 47% of students attend industry talks and almost 60% of faculty does not discuss how engineering concepts apply to the industry.
So, what’s the solution? It’s simple. Do as many internships as possible while at university, and then some after graduating, even if they are unpaid. You’ll learn industry skills that you weren’t taught at college, and before you know it, you’ll become job-ready with some hands-on work experience that every employer looks for.
And while that happens, remember, we educate ourselves to get educated, just that. Not to become a job product.