Home > Career > Point them in the right direction!

Point them in the right direction!

I ask students in an MBA class, “I am standing at Zero Degree Longitude. Where could I possibly be?”

No clue!

“What is the speed of light?” There is total silence in class!

“Name three Indian Nobel laureates” Somebody said Raman, but didn’t know what he received the award for. No more names after that.

The class was asked to come up to the board and draw a World Map – I said they need not draw it to scale or get the shapes right; only the names and relatives positions of the major land masses and water bodies were required.

Just one student dared to attempt and he got most of it right – while he drew the others stared, and then blinked when I asked one of them to point out the location of a country or a continent.

Is it a coincidence that the student who drew was the only one in class who had read a few books in the last one year?

I said Mr. N R Narayanamurthy had stated that only even in the best professional colleges only the top 20 or 25 % of the students are employable and they just smiled!

And then I went on to ask 2-3 students to explain what they intend to do post the course.

Student – 1

“I will do my own business. First I will work for 4-5 years, make some capital and then start a business or join my dad’s business.”

I – “What are you waiting for? Can’t you start right away?”

“No, Sir. My dad’ said I should work elsewhere first and then think about joining the business.”

That is one smart father. “Go mess up someone else’s business, not mine” was his message.

Student – 2

“I want to do Marketing!”; (not Sales, no one wishes to Sell – that’s infra dig.)

“What in marketing?” I ask.

“Anything, Sir” and when I asked him to be more specific, “Branding, Sir.”

So I ask him to pick a popular brand in the market and explain what it stood for. He had no answer. I asked “What is brand you? What do you stand for?” Still no answer!

Student – 3

“I want to work in the HR Department of a large company.”

I ask – “Why a large company?”

“I will get a lot of experience” I read that as “I will get a large salary!”

“Why do you think you are suited for H.R.?”

“Sir, I like to interact with people. I enjoy being with friends, so I think I will enjoy being with other people too.”

I – “What do you wish to do in the HR function?”

“I would like to do Performance Management and Manpower Planning.”

Lucky that she had spared HR Strategy for the HR Head.

I was too stunned to continue.

I would understand if a child in the 7th standard didn’t know what profession to pursue, but a B-School student who is 6 months away from a job should not be in doubt, he/she should be at least 75% there by now.

They do not have general awareness nor were they sure about the function they wished to work in; they only thing they were absolutely sure about was that wanted to be Managers (heads of functions, even CEOs.

The kids can turn around and ask me how geography, history and general awareness would help in their job. Well, these subjects may not be of use to them in the job, but can a person who lacks curiosity or awareness of the world around him/her be relied upon to take decisions that impact that world. Can any of us operate in a vacuum? Can any business decision be taken without understanding of local culture and sensitivities or knowledge of the market? I can go on ….

These children are totally lost and badly misguided too. The colleges do not advice them well, nor do they get any help from the parents.

When will these kids get the bare facts – if the answer is “After they get a job”, it will be too late.

The colleges paint a glorious picture of the job market because the fees they collect are fantastic and they can’t afford to disappoint the students, or their parents, with the truth. The teachers have little time to spare for the kids and the parents are either ill-equipped to deal with the situation or don’t have much to say beyond asking the grades.

These students need to receive a dose of reality and proper guidance to make the important choices they are faced with. Today the market is inundated with Assessments and Counselors, but there aren’t any available within reach. They are either overpriced or poorly marketed.

And teachers – Please stop lecturing; guide the kids to the answers. Spoon-feeding is destructive. Rouse their curiosity, challenge them to use their brains, put them on projects, tell them to create cases and plans, send them on fact finding missions, give them assignments on the campus. Activities, not monologues, are the need of the hour.

These should not be randomly done nor should they be limited to a few days of the year. There  has to be a structured, round-the year activity and grade them for work done on these as well.

Parents stop oscillating between being good time guys and class monitors. Your job does not stop with paying college fees, providing pocket-money and asking for good grades; spend time to understand what the kids are doing in college and outside. Guide them to prepare a career plan or to choose a career. If you can’t do either at least pay ear while they explain, without ridiculing or being judgmental.  Be assertive, say that you expect them to be more responsible – but don’t be condescending or threatening. Coax, don’t push. Being adversarial or nasty can push them away from you and they will look elsewhere for support; soon it will become difficult for you to start a conversation with them and when you do they will resort to subterfuge and lies.

Young adults are sensitive and keyed up – but under the right conditions they can be pliant and receptive too. It’s a tough phase of life, a time of transition.

Can we be their compass?

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  1. November 29, 2012 at 6:07 am

    So true…… Wonderful post…. Thanks for sharing……

    http://debnature.blogspot.in

    • JayadevM
      November 29, 2012 at 6:09 am

      Hi Debopam

      Thank you for the kind words. Best wishes

  2. Vijay
    November 29, 2012 at 8:52 am

    wonderful and a very relevant article….can’t see much changing unless the education system in the country undergoes drastic reforms.

    • JayadevM
      November 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Hi Vijay

      Instead of waiting for the system to change I am trying to do a wee bit on my own and maybe some others can do their little bit too … soon it will turn into a movement … in the right direction!

  3. Kailash
    November 29, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Nicely written J and good topic too. J would like to know what you would do in these six months so that some of these students (if not all) get on the right track.

    • JayadevM
      November 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Kailash

      Shall write to you about it.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. November 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    You have started a truly useful series, probing and asking the unnaturally bubbly youth to do some soul-searching. They surely need a compass but even before that the realization should sink that a compass is needed.

    • JayadevM
      November 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Umashankar

      Thank you! Youth is the right time to build the right habits, skills and attitudes. Older folks are more rigid and difficult to change.

      So I wish to spend more time with this age group.

      You are right about the need to realise that a detour is essential – I hope to show a few of them how they can benefit from it.

    • JayadevM
      December 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Umahankar,

      I want my young friends to refocus and push ahead on a path that will take them to greater levels of achievement. I hope to change their beliefs by showing what’s possible with a little change in outlook and action.

      Thank you for those words of appreciation..

  5. Jamy
    December 2, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Jay, I think you are doing the right thing in a small way and hopefully it will have a ripple effect and spread through your students. You have touched the guidance part of education many times in different articles before and more than ever in this one. Today’s youth are vibrant and enthusiastic to try new ways to succeed in life…. once they are guided in the right direction by parents, guardians, school counsellors etc in the areas where their strengths lie we should be able to see a healthy change for the future! Great post bro!

    • JayadevM
      December 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Hi Jamy,

      I am sure change will happen – the change agent needs to believe that his / her efforts are going to bring bring out the expected change and persist!.

      I intend to do my bit!

      Thanks a ton for the support.

  6. December 21, 2012 at 6:55 am

    JD , I did my MBA from FMS , Delhi , but it was after working for 3 years . It was such an enriching experience , not only for us students , but for the professors as well . The lively interaction had to be seen to be believed . Maybe the Education ministry should make it compulsory to have at least 2 years of experience prior to doing an MBA ; India will benefit much more with this !

    • JayadevM
      December 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Murali,

      I apologise for responding late to your comment.

      In India there is a belief among many that business studies can be done without any exposure to business but I am not one of them. This group of people think that since business is such a vast domain the limited exposure one gets before pursuing an MBA would make no difference.

      But like you I too feel that getting exposed to how business is done and being aware of how organisations function is very important for students of business – it helps them connect theory with experience.

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