Online learning has come to stay for sure and will only increase in value and volume ahead, writes Prof. Ujjwal K Chowdhury. Graphic: Saubhik Debnath
There is despondency in many circles. Naturally, after the worst pandemic of the century has hit the world, with the Amphan cyclone in our part of the world too. Naturally, after a declining Indian economy moving at 4% growth in January has probably hit a negative figure by the end of June now. Natural, when you look at millions homeless by cyclone, after being rendered jobless and penniless by lockdown. Naturally, when you sit idle for a hundred days to finish your unfinished Board or University exams, not knowing when the results will come and when and what you do next.
These are all natural and the reality of the moment. Now, we have two options: just wait and flow with the tide, good or bad, and do not decide anything. Or, taking each day at a time, and focus to do a few things which we need to do or wish to do.
Let me talk to the youths between 18 and 23 years of age, especially those who are giving their Plus 2 finals or are in graduation now, and waiting for the next big leap in their lives.
First thing is to finish your pending exams for which you are waiting for the last 100 days if you are taking the option of remaining Plus 2 exams, and also finish any competitive exams you want to take. But then why waste time waiting and revising at times which you have done a hundred times perhaps. I have my 12-point suggestions for you.
- Be a Digital Person:The gear you need is just a good laptop with good memory, a strong WiFi connection at home, and a smartphone with internet connection, and these are now must post-pandemic to pursue any career you choose.
- Be a Social Media Persona:with accounts in LinkedIn (to write on serious stuff, follow others in your chosen field of future career, though you are now a learner), in Facebook (for stories and memories), in Instagram (for your visuals), in Twitter (for debates and news-breaks), and start your own blog (whichever area of interest you may have; can be a Vlog also, video blog).
- Deep Dive in One Career:Choose a specific field, like first engineering, then AI-ML or automobile engineering or smart city & town planning, etc. If Management, go more specific like retail or banking or leadership or energy management, etc. If law, criminal or civil law, constitutional or cyber law, international or environment law. If media, films or journalism, advertising or PR-Events, photography or digital communication. Similarly in all other fields. Then do a deep dive into the field: what does the broad and the specific ones cover, what are their skills sets, what role in economy and society, what job profiles come out of it, which are the top 20 employers in that in India and a few globally, etc. Get to know about their actual functioning.
- Webinars Participation:Attend several webinars on that chosen field or the broad one, interact with experts in the webinars online or offline on the domain to get more clarity. Pandemic has brought in a deluge of webinars, which at times may be tiring, but the selected ones are great for you when you have many questions to be asked in your chosen area, and it is not easy to meet people face-to-face now.
- Online Research:Visit websites of the 10 most possible universities to study within your reach and desire, talk to their counsellors and get to know their course details and unique aspects, if any. Make a comparative chart of the same.
- Online Learning:Try to identify which online courses you can do or if any university or college is allowing you to do even before the start of the classes. Do that now and try a few more which equips you far better to take up the chosen domain ahead. Online learning has come to stay for sure and will only increase in value and volume ahead. It will make you prepared for self-learning, learning to learn.
- Facing Exams:While you prepare for the pending competitive exams, like those of engineering, medical or design etc, you need not lose your sleep on them. The Plus 2 exam is a must one and you must be well prepared for that. Now that the government is not asking necessarily for the Plus 2 exams, it is your call to take it or not, depending upon how your internal exams were. For the rest, keep the focus and make a serious attempt, but be prepared for alternative routes to fulfil your dreams. For example, a specific institute if not available does not mean the end of your pursuit of career.
- Creative pursuits must:Creative pursuits must be kept alive, whether it is dancing, singing, music, painting, acting or performing, creative writing, photography, etc. They must be showcased through videos, podcasts, blogs, published work, even your own youtube channel too. One creative pursuit and done seriously is must for everyone to evolve as a holistic right-left brain balanced personality. And this keeps one in a good stead facing failures and challenges at times, which are bound to happen once in a while.
- Learn from Role-models:Must identify a few professionals pursuing the same career which you want to get into, people in their late 20s or 30s or 40s. People from different generations with a gap of 12-15 years between themselves have different world-views even if it is in the same broad domain. Hence, it is important to know a few people of different age-groups as role models and examples to follow to get more well rounded perspectives.
- Lifetime Career to Multiple Careers:These days we are moving away from a lifetime career concept and often have a second career or move into a different career sometime later after a decade or two in the chosen path. So, always good to have a minor specialization along with the major. For example, someone doing engineering, can also have a minor in management; anyone in law, can also take up a management or an economics minor; anyone in sciences or management, can take up a photography minor. Selecting both major and minor areas in advance shall also be of immense help in real life career-building.
- Professional Studies and Career Development:Another big push to your self-development is to go through a course of professional studies which prepares you for facing interviews, conduct group discussions, do teamwork better, under professional needs of any job or career, including the ability to communicate better in English, in your mother tongue and may be in one or more languages (including a foreign language). Alongside, career development calls for going deeper into the industry or sector you want to join in, understanding which are the best skill-needs, attitudinal aspects, trends and major players of that career. The university you select to study must ensure the above two.
- EI and teamwork with leadership:Strong emotional intelligence is the hallmark of a strong person in these days of easy frustration and depression. While we must strive to succeed in what we want to do, we need not be bogged down by apparent success parameters so much to fly high with the slightest gain or go deep into depression with one or two initial failures. Both are signs of a weak personality. Equanimity facing failure or getting success, treating the other the way you want him or her to treat you, and being with a smile facing a challenge are hallmarks of a person with a strong EI. And we must always remember to be a leader tomorrow one has to be a good team-worker today, and a good team-player of the moment can become a good leader tomorrow.
The writer is currently the Pro Vice Chancellor of Kolkata based Adamas University, and was earlier the Dean of Symbiosis and Amity Universities, Pearl Academy and Whistling Woods International. He has worked with WHO, Government of India (Textiles Ministry) and Nippon Foundation as Media Adviser, apart from working with several media organisations.
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