To join the ranks of the employed or to pursue higher studies — that is the most frustrating dilemmas of them all. We find you some answers
From the time she was enrolled in school as a five-year-old to this day, Anisha Rehmani has never stopped studying. Today, she is a 24-year-old with a BA (Honours) in English, a PG Diploma in Journalism, and an MA in Arts & Aesthetics. She has already enrolled for an M Phil programme in Art History and plans to follow it up with a PhD. A sure shot academician at best, or worst, someone with a chronic terror of entering the real world, it would seem. But hers is a rather simple explanation. She just wants to get “all the studying out of the way before starting work.”
Anisha’s might be an atypical case, but it brings into focus a much larger issue that plagues many students today. Reminiscent of the question that’s repeatedly demanded of us upon graduation— what next? Study further, finish your education at the of risk specialising in a subject you might discover later holds no interest for you? Or return to college after working for a few years and risk putting a stopper in your career growth?
The former is the best, says Vishnu Sanjit, a Software Developer at Motorola who is going back to college after five years to pursue his MS. “After graduating from BITS Pilani, I planned to work for a while and then get into a B school, for which, work experience was required. But after putting in a few years at work, I’ve realised that telecom is my real area of interest. So I’m going to specialise in it. I wouldn’t have realised this if I had gone straight to study,” he says. So would that be his advice as well? To work for a few years and then take a call? “Absolutely, 2-3 years is ideal. It’s the best way to find out if that’s your true calling.”
Making a compelling case for the necessity of work-experience is Mahiti Sinha, a mechanical engineer by education but a journalist by passion. “Most often, our choice of undergraduate study is defined by parental or peer pressure, uncertainty, job market or whatever is trending at the moment. Only, a few choose the course because they really want to make a career in it. By the end of the course, most are again at crossroads. You can go with the flow or actually test the waters in other fields to see where your aptitude lies. You can do that only by working. Otherwise, a by-pass to higher education means postponing the wisdom and most likely, ending up with a colossal waste of time, effort and money.”
Post his graduation, and a few years of practice as a freelance photographer and filmmaker, Vivek Rao is headed to the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad for his Masters. He offers a rather interesting insight. Vivek says, “A lot of institutes abroad which focus on research oriented study want to know why a person who’s already on the field and learning on the job needs to return to college to study the same thing. The question is hard to answer, considering that most of us go back for a Masters mainly because, in India, it’s the minimum qualification, almost a societal requisite, if you are to consider your education complete. That said, I think two years of work experience is ideal before returning to college.”
But what about hampering career growth? HR Manager Netra P dismisses it as a myth. “In two to three years, you just about learn the ropes. So it’s not like you are going to pass up on a senior management role. So that shouldn’t be a concern. Instead, those years will give you perspective and reveal the realities of working life, and tell you a thing or two about the industry you are in. Moreover all that you studied till then is only theory, now you’ll learn to apply them. So working for a while before pursuing higher studies will make all the difference.”
The verdict seems unanimous. Getting a taste of the workings of the field you intend to make your career in is vital. It might even be the deciding factor in the course you will go on to specialise in. So, as tempting as it maybe, college might just have to wait a little longer.