Dr Ali Khwaja, Montessorian, an engineering graduate of IIT, MIE, MIIM, with a PhD in behavioral sciences, in an exclusive chat with sify.com, tells us how to make the right choice of education for a flourishing career and lists out various career options for students who take up science, commerce and arts. Read the transcript below.
Francis: Any interesting career options that you would have liked to pursue if you were a 10th standard student in today's world and looking ahead? could you list a few options that could prove financially rewarding too.
Ans: Let me answer your second question first: If you are good at what you do, money automatically chases you. That is more so in today's economy where our country is progressing rapidly, opportunities are plentiful, and demand for competent professionals exists in every field. So do choose based on what you like and what you are good at. To answer your first question, it took me almost 15 years, but I did find the career of my dreams, and that is counselling. So if I was in 10th standard now I would still aim to do what I am doing right now. Those days there was no guidance, information etc about variety of careers. Today you have so much information and means to evaluate yourself, at the touch of a fingertip.
One example is this very form in which you are getting instant answers to your doubts. Utilize such facilities and do a thorough exploration. We do so much research to find out a good dress, which movie to watch, what to order in a restaurant, spend much much more time in choosing your career - entirely based on your interest, lifestyle and expertise, not on 'scope'. Best of luck !
Zoltan: What are the options available in 11th if i were to take up commerce?
Ans: There are innumerable options (all excluding engineering, medicine and science related fields) To list out just a few, it could be Chartered Accountancy, Company Secretary, Civil Services, various branches of military service, banking, investment banking, communications, visual arts, computer applications, travel and tourism, teaching, economics, etc etc
Manish: Hallo Sir, Sir, which are the best medical colleges in India? And how much will be the fee for theie courses?
Ans: All India Institute of Medical Sciences (www.aiims.edu) is still considered to be one of the best in Asia. Christian Medical College Vellore, KMC Manipal, PIGMER in Chandigarh, JIPMer in Puducherry ( www.jipmer.edu.in) also have very good reputation. Armed Forces Medical College in Pune (www.afmcdg1d.nic.in) is an excellent alternative because they give you a handsome stipend, but you have to commit to minimum 5 years military service. Fees varies from college to college and also the exam through which you have obtained admission.
Abbas: You seem a very interesting man with many interesting qualifications, sir. just curious, but how did you decide your career path. when did you start thinking about it and how you got here. pls share
Ans: Can I be frank with you? I just drifted .... science was supposed to be better than arts in my days. Engineering happened because I hated my Biology teacher. I got into IIT without any coaching (thanks to my parents from whom I inherited high intellectual genes). Subsequently I never worked as an engineer, but I have no regrets at all for my basic studies, because excellent institutions like IITs give you an all-round grinding and foundation that helps you to branch off into whatever you genuinely like and enjoy.... and to succeed -- which is what I did.
Guest: How does one prepare for the engineering and medical entrance exams? are coaching classes a must?
Ans: Coaching is necessary only to understand the methodology of how to answer the battery of questions within the limited time span of 1 hour 20 minutes for each subject. The more you practice and understand the best way of cracking those exams, the higher your chances of success. There are Guide books available at Avenue Road etc. If you are capable of doing the above by yourself it is very good. Otherwise you may take up short-term crash course for the entrance tests paulson.
KP: My son is in 12th CBSE this year and he has taken PCMB. He is going for JEE coaching as well as Medical coaching separately. He wants to attempt both and he is doing reasonably well in all 4 subjects listed above. how to find out his real interest?
Ans: You are right that it is better to find out his real interest (and talent/ aptitude) instead of just going blindly into two diverse fields of engineering and medicine. Check out his interest, his personality traits, and the subjects he enjoys most, and then match them to either career. Give him exposure to the working world of technology and medicine, and see which he relates to more. If all else fails then you can take him for an aptitude test which is done by selected professionals in every large city, including Bangalore. One such institute is www.banjaraacademy.org
Guest: How important english skills? how small town boy with big dreams build it?
Ans: While English skills do help in anything that you do in today's globalized world, it is not that a small town boy whose English is not excellent will have to forego his dreams. If you are aiming for a career in technical, creative, science fields, even if you English is not perfect, you can still do very well professionally. However, you can overcome what you lost out in early years having been brought up in a small town by just practicing speaking and writing in English, maybe even attend a short-term course in spoken English, and constantly being in the company of English speaking people, reading newspapers and books of your interest, etc. Your dreams will materialize more based on your choice of a right career which suits your interest, aptitude and personality.
Piyush: Do I stick with karnataka sslc after my 10th or shift to cbse or icse? please elaborate...
Ans: There is no Karnataka SSLC after 10th. I presume you wish to know whether you should do PUC or shift to ISC (not ICSE) or CBSE. It may be a little difficult for you to switch over to the latter two, since students who have already studied in those stream will have an advantage over you. You will need to read up what you were not taught in 10th, but was taught in CBSE and ICSE schools. If you are determined you can switch over, but it will be far smoother if you continue with PUC, aim for a good college which does not have too many students in each class, and aim for a specific career goal
Jude_2s: Sir, I have finished my Engineering. I want to do a MS in abroad. Which country would be best to go for it?
Ans: While USA has traditionally been the most sought-after country for higher studies in engineering, you can also explore Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, since studies are slightly cheaper there and admission is easier. Ensure that you select the right specialization and a reputed university, for that will determine your employment potential. Ideally you should have begun the process of preparation when you were competing 3rd year engineering, as you will have to go through GRE, TOEFL etc, whose marks will determine which University will accept you. I you are starting the process now, try and gain some work experience in the meanwhile
Rakesh: I love economics. If I were to take it up in 11th, what are the options open before after my 12th?
Ans: After you have completed your 12th with Economics as a subject, you can opt for a degree in Economics, which is now being offered by selected universities at the undergraduate level. Otherwise in Bangalore University, you will need to do a graduation with Economics and two other subjects. At the post graduate level there are many reputed institutions offering Masters courses, including Delhi School of Economics, Symbiosis, Manipal, IIT, Indian Statistical Institute isical.ac.in etc.
Kaushalya: How promising is a career in counselling these days? If I want to pursue a career in counselling, how should I go about it from the 11th standard?
Ans: It is steadily increasing, and will have very high demand over the coming years, particularly in urban areas where lifestyle and relationships are getting more and more stressful. If you have the flair for understanding a relating to people, you can make a very satisfying career in it. You will need to preferably (though not necessarily) take Arts in 11th standard, do your degree with Psychology as one of the subjects, and then take up an M.Sc. in Psychological Counselling, which is offered by many colleges in large cities, including six in Bangalore. You can also take up practical interactive programs to supplement your theoretical knowledge from institutions such as Banjara Academy (www.banjaraacademy.org)
Ayesha: Can i avoid second language in class xi?
Ans: It can be done only if you are identified with Specific Learning Disability (SLD), which is certified by institutions such as NIMHANS, Spastic Society, Dyslexia Association etc. Some ISC schools do offer communicative English instead of your taking some other language. National Institute of Open Schooling (www.nios.ac.in and www.nos.org) is a Government of India examination board like the CBSE, in which stream you need not take a second language. There are many schools in large cities which offer the alternative of NIOS, otherwise you can study on your own and take coaching
Guest: How can i got more marks in english
Ans: Practice, practice, practice. Start reading newspapers, novels and story books of your interest. Keep writing and speaking in English as far as possible and ask people around you to correct your sentence formation, spellings etc. Use the computer to type your writing, and it will point out whenever you make spelling or grammar mistakes by underlining in red or green. It will then tell you what the correct way is, and thus you will learn. don't just aim for more marks, ensure that you develop strong language skills because that will be a strong parameter for your success in life. See if you can join quiz, debates or such societies which give you additional exposure to English
Guest: Sir, I want to know that can i got more marks in english grammer
Ans: Wren and Martin's English Grammar continues to be the best text book in this subject. Along with studying the subject, you may practice by writing articles and essays and getting them evaluated either by a teacher or by a person who is an expert in Grammar. Similarly, make it a habit to speak in English, particularly to some close persons whose English is good, and who can point out mistakes whenever you make one. Once your basic grammar improves, you will automatically get marks, and you will also make progress in your career due to good communication skills
Guest: I love math and want to build my career around it. I have scored 94% in the Karnataka boards. What do I do now?
Ans: Congrats ! At this point you may take up science (PCM + any fourth subject of your choice) for your PUC, and then spend the next two years exploring various alternatives. You can take up integrated degree courses in IISERs www.iiser-admissions.in, iiserbhopal.ac.in, www.iiserkol.ac.in, iiserpune.ac.in (which give you an attractive stipend too), or in reputed institutions like IITs, NITs, IISc (which has a four year B.S. course), or in Institute of Mathematics and Applications www.iomaorissa.ac.in After acquiring good qualifications in Math, it will be your choice whether to remain in research/teaching, or to go into applications such as economics, statistics, bio-informatics, finance and many others
Amritavarshini: I am interested in teaching young kids once I grow older. Might be become a Montessori teacher. How attractive a career option is it? I am waiting for my 10th results at the moment and expect a distinction or better.
Ans: It is very good that a distinction student like you is interested in teaching. Though the financial returns are not very high at present, they are constantly increasing and in 10-20 years it is quite likely that you will be earning as much as those in corporate world, if you are a very competent teacher, Montessori courses are run by the Indian Montessori Centre www.indianmontessoricenre.org, email@example.com in different cities and is of one year duration. Once you take a liking to the field, you can go in the Montessori Directors course and be the Director of a Montessori or start one yourself. There are also many short-term courses in early childhood education that can supplement your skills
Guest: Can you suggest me some career options in wildlife? I want to make a career in the field. I hope you can suggest more streams related to wildlife and zoology.
Ans: The best option in India continues to be the Indian Forest Service. Entry is through an annual exam by Union Public Service Commission (www.upsc.gov.in) which is open to all graduates of science, engineering, medicine etc. from any recognized Indian University. Once selected you are assured of a Class I service in government where you have plenty of opportunity to work with wildlife and its conservation. The other option is to take up a four year degree course in Forestry offered by University of Agricultural Sciences in Karnataka and other states, after which you can independently pursue a career in wildlife -- employment being primarily in NGOs, forest based industries, plantations, zoos, and research institutions
Shiva: Is there any point in pursuing an engineering degree now?
Ans: Yes, despite many persons predicting a recession in engineering field, those who have good mathematical and analytical skills, are good in math and physics, have a desire to make a career in technology and can think/work logically, there will always be a demand for engineers. Because of the influx of hundreds of engineering colleges in our country in the last ten years there is a temporary surplus of engineers, but those with deep interest and strong aptitude will ride through the rough period and make good careers. Also, engineering study is used by many as a strong foundation to move into management, administration, communication, finance, etc.
Guest: I am a huge fan of Dr VS Ramachandran and want to be a psychologist or psychiatrist. How do I go about fulfilling my dream? I stay in Bangalore and am doing my ninth (ICSE) currently.
Ans: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who complete MBBS and then do a three year MD in psychiatry. They deal primarily with persons with mental disorders, and can prescribe medicines, electro convulsive therapy etc. Psychologists are persons who study humanities, and do an M.Sc. or higher studies in any field of psychology of their choice. This includes educational, industrial, counselling or clinical psychology. The last of these work in tandem with psychiatrists to assess mental illness, do behavioral therapy and guide the family of persons with mental disorder. Depending on which you would like to pursue, you should take up science or arts at +2 level, and then proceed for higher studies
Guest: It is a toss up between commerce and humanities stream for me after my 10th. I am still not able to make up my mind on which to choose. Can you list out the advantages of either? And tell me what factors I should base my decision on?
Ans: If you are fairly good in Math, have an orientation towards the corporate world, accounts or business, then you may take up Commerce. Similarly if you are good in languages, are creative, or are fascinated with social sciences, then Arts may be the right option. Try and fix up your long term goals in terms of career you would like to take up, then decide whether commerce or arts suits your goals better
Guest: I want to take up PCM after my SSLC and prepare for the IIT. I want to be an electronics or computer engineer. Can you suggest the road ahead for me? Any preparatory courses I must take?
Ans: Do not focus only on IIT, as less than 1% of those who aspire manage to get in. Keeping IITs and NITs as your priority, prepare for JEE once you are in PUC. Preferably take up PCMC, and then aim for the best institute depending on your rank etc. It does help if you can take up some coaching on the methodology of cracking the entrance exam, but it need not be an extensive coaching
Guest: English literature fascinates me and I would like to forge career based on it. Will the arts elective in 11th and 12th be the best option for me? And how good an option would journalism be after I complete my degree?
Ans: Yes, arts would be the better option. Once you start your 11th, keep sharpening your writing skills, do some freelance writing and send it to publications. You can review at the end of 12th whether your interest remains as strong, and then take up a degree course in Mass Communication which includes written and electronic media.
Dr Ali Khwaja
A Montessorian, an engineering graduate of IIT, MIE, MIIM, with a PhD in behavioral sciences - Dr Ali Khwaja has carved out his own path, ensuring that work is joy every day.
He is invited regularly to conduct workshops/lectures for Defence, Central Government, prestigious National institutions, schools and colleges.
He is the founder and head of Banjara Academy, a unique institution committed to improvement of quality of life.
Dr Ali also conducts a very popular and practical one year part-time Diploma in Counselling Skills and a 5-month Certificate in Life Skills.