Career Counselling Advice


Career guidance tips: Which career is the best?

In this column, Dr. Ali Khwaja, eminent career counsellor and life skills coach, shares his first hand experiences of interacting on a day-to-day basis over three decades with thousands of students from various backgrounds. Think deeply, and take the right choice for the right reasons.

Choosing your career is perhaps the most important decision you take in your life. The right choice, based on not just “scope” and what everyone else is doing, but on one’s own interest, inclination, aptitude and potential, can give a head start in this competitive world, and take you on the fast-track to success.

If there was a “best” career that everyone would aim for, then very soon its scope would drastically come down, because there will be too many people qualifying in that field. In fact this is what happened in the late nineties to IT and in the past few years to BT (biotechnology). Both are very challenging and promising fields. But whenever too many people rush towards them, the demand obviously comes down.

Keep in mind that when you choose a career and qualify in it, you will be working for almost fifty years in your chosen profession. Have a vision, don’t be carried away by which field the highest paid jobs are currently being offered in. In your working life, many times the “scope” of the career will go up and down. But if you choose wisely, and for the right reasons, you will continue to do well even when there is a recession in that field.

If you have finished your 10th, you are already on the crossroads where you have to start taking the most important decisions of your life. If you are coming close to the 10th standard, it is time to start narrowing down right now. If you are even further ahead academically, this is your last chance to steer towards your final goal. Introspect deeply.

Your career decisions should be based on the following factors:

  • Your interest (what you actually want to do for the rest of your life, what you will enjoy doing).
  • Your love for particular subjects, since they lay the foundation of the work you are going to be doing.
  • The lifestyle that you prefer, your personality characteristics, your extra-curricular interests.
  • Your aptitude – i.e. your potential to develop the skills required in any particular career.

Equally important is to know what the various career options are. The choice is increasing at a rapid pace, and you need not follow in the footsteps of the older generation. You can be part of a new, challenging, and thrilling vocation.

By Ali Khwaja



Study tips: Should I work while studying?

Many students have a desire to earn some money or gain experience while they are studying. Some parents encourage, while others are apprehensive that work may distract the student, bring down his grades, put him into wrong company, or take away his motivation to study further. Those who do wish to work can follow these steps to determine the right balance:

  • First settle down in the new course you have taken up, whether it is PUC, degree or post-graduate. Get thoroughly familiar with your books, classes schedules, traveling time, and how are your energy levels.
  • List out the possible careers you are going to take up eventually. Ensure that the job you take up gives you some exposure or experience in one of them. Do NOT take up a job in a field of work that you will not be pursuing, even if the money is good.
  • Join an organization where the work culture is such that people share information with you. Do not get stuck in a monotonous repetitive job where you are doing the same tasks every day.
  • Do not make a long term commitment, and avoid organizations that slowly start extending your working hours. Periodically check whether you are able to keep up your academic standards while working, and ensure that your employer gives you holidays before your exams.
  • If at any time you feel uncomfortable with your work, or you find that you are too tired to keep up with your studies, quit immediately. Do not allow your short term earning to affect your long term success.
  • While working, ask your seniors to give you frank and critical evaluation of your work, your strengths and your achievements. This in turn will help you narrow down your long term career goals.

By Ali Khwaja



Career guidance tips: What to do after graduation?

Since basic graduation is no longer considered sufficient for a bright career, do plan to study higher. There are various scholarships and bank loans available for deserving economically weak students. The choices available to you include:

  • Post graduate degrees and diplomas in the respective field in which you have done your graduation
  • PG in business management, many specialized streams of management, mass communication, computer applications, education, social work, advertising, applied psychology, design, public relations, travel, and many, many others. Most of these PG courses do not insist on a graduation from the same field.
  • You can also aspire to get into civil or military service through various competitive exams conducted by Union Public Service Commission ( Their website gives examination dates and the last dates for applying.
  • Similarly, higher studies in prestigious institutes like Indian Institute of Science and various other government organizations that offer stipends and scholarships to deserving students, and an opportunity to continue higher studies in various fields.

Most of the prestigious institutes start their admission procedure months earlier, and hence they allow students in the final year of their degree course to sit for the entrance exam. Considering that these exams are highly competitive, with only a few seats for tens of thousands of applicants, one needs to start planning and preparing at least a year in advance. Good coaching is available in most large cities of the country, and guide books are also available with sample question papers.

Be aware that the choices are very wide, and expanding every year. Only if you plan ahead and apply at the right time will you be able to get into some of the most prestigious institutions. And entry into a good institute is your passport for success.

Careers in medical and allied fields
  1. Doing allopathic medicine through MBBS.
  2. Specializing in dental medicine by taking up BDS.
  3. Studying  medical courses in  homeopathy(BHMS), ayurveda(BAMS) or unani medicine(BUMS).
  4. Doing veterinary medicine (BVSc).
  5. Taking up a course in medical electronics, biomedical or genetic engineering.
  6. After graduation in any field, going on to a masters course in hospital administration (MHA).
  7. Making a career in nursing (BSc and then a specialization through MSc Nursing).
  8. Studying psychology (MA or M.Sc) and then going on to special­izing in clinical psychology (M.Phil.) in an  institution like NIMHANS.
  9. Becoming a speech therapist/ audiologist by doing a  special BSc in that subject.
  10. Doing a four year BSc or BPT in  physiotherapy or occupational therapy.
  11. Taking up diploma courses in special education, mental retardation, or handling disabled children.
  12. Pursuing one of the innumerable paramedical courses to become a lab technician, pathologist, radiographer, optometrist, dietitian etc.

By Ali Khwaja



Career guidance tips: How to plan the year after class 10 and class 12

Have you made your New Year resolutions? Have you done your shopping and made your plans for celebrating in style? Then it is time to plan the year ahead in the most important area of your life – your studies and your career.

Many brilliant students miss out the best opportunities in life only because they do not plan in advance, or because they are not aware of the vast choices ahead of them. Begin this year by checking out what avenues are open to you and what you need to do to avail the best openings. To help you through this process, here are a few tips and pieces of information. Keep in mind that the lists given here are only representative, and if you explore systematically, you will find many more alternatives that may be of interest to you.

After 10nth standard:

If you are in 10th standard, you have the following alternatives when you complete this academic year:
  • PUC with science (optional subjects being Physics, Chemistry, Math and a choice of one among the following: biology, electronics, computer science. Girls also have the option of choosing Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Home Science). Similarly PUC in Commerce and Arts also has different combinations of subjects in different colleges.
  • Those who are completing their ICSE or CBSE also need to decide whether they will continue in the same streams or move on to PUC.
  • Three year government recognized diploma in various streams of engineering, or in Commercial Practice, Apparel Design. Also two year Diploma in Education (D.Ed.) Many other private job-oriented diploma courses are also available.
  • Two year ITI courses or entry into army/air force for a few selected branches.

There is very little time after the declaration of 10th standard results for you to apply for the subsequent courses. And very soon you will be so deeply involved in preparing for your Board exams that you may not have time to systematically sort out your preferences. It is ideal if you could complete the process in the next few weeks and then you will not have to face last minute tension.

After class 12:

This is the most crucial phase. A wrong decision at this juncture can land you in a field you do not have aptitude for, and then you will neither do well in studies, nor will you have any motivation. Each one of us is built differently, and you should make the choice of your under-graduate study based more on your interest and strengths, rather than on what everyone else is rushing for, or is most in demand.

Your choices include the following:
  • A few government recognized diploma programs such as business administration, library science etc. Job oriented technical diploma programs such as those offered by NTTF etc.
  • Those who have taken up PCMB find all avenues open. Those who have dropped Biology cannot opt for medical and life sciences, while those who have dropped Math cannot opt for engineering and technology.
  • Entering military service through National Defence Academy (NDA) for which exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. You are made an officer cadet and are trained and given a degree. As an officer through NDA you can also opt to study technical courses like engineering while you continue in service. Similarly, those selected for the flying branch in Indian Air Force are trained as fighter, transport or helicopter pilots at government cost while being paid their salary.
  • Entering military service through National Defence Academy (NDA) for which exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. You are made an officer cadet and are trained and given a degree. As an officer through NDA you can also opt to study technical courses like engineering while you continue in service. Similarly, those selected for the flying branch in Indian Air Force are trained as fighter, transport or helicopter pilots at government cost while being paid their salary.
  • Three year degree courses in arts, science, computer applications, commerce, management and various other fields. Admission to these courses is relatively easy, and many average colleges continue giving admissions long after professional courses have closed their entry.

By Ali Khwaja


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Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja


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