"There are no ideal careers, there are ideal choices"
Even as a little girl she had always been fascinated by teaching. She made it her life's sole ambition to be intimately and intricately involved with the entire gamut of education. Decades later, she accomplished what she had set out for and finally emerged as a well-established name in the sphere of career counselling.
|Dr. Amrita Dass|
Director, Institute for
Dr. Amrita Dass is the Director of the Institute for Career Studies.
The organization has enunciated a novel concept that has taken the academic world by storm. Some of the most prestigious schools in the country have been availing of its services and programmes and claim to have largely benefited by it. National Network of Education
caught up with Dr. Dass, during her brief sojourn in the capital and what ensued was a very interesting and enlightening conversation that shed ample light on the prevalent higher education system both in the national and global perspective. Q: Tell us about your early years, school and college education. How and why did you decide to become a career counsellor ?
A: Since childhood, my aim was to make education my career. The inspiration came from my grandmother, Late Mrs. Prem Nath Dass who became the first Indian principal of the prestigious Isabella Thoburn College
(for women) in Lucknow, during the 1930's.As I was growing up, education was a very strong option; however I also had strong entrepreneurial skills, I wanted to tackle education from the entrepreneurial angle; I desired to combine both in order to get the best.
While pursuing doctoral research in history from the Lucknow University, I wanted to join the School of Oriental & African Studies, London,
which is probably the best in the world in that genre
. I was looking for a scholarship to fund my studies but unfortunately there was very little information available. Somebody mentioned that I should contact the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), New Delhi. I visited ICHR and the person in charge was only too glad to help me find what I sought. Within no time, I found myself in London, doing what I wanted to do for so long. The incident made me realize one thing: there were no dearth of opportunities but there was an abysmal lack of information among students regarding what courses to select, scholarships etc. I therefore made up my mind to devote my energies to providing basic, authentic career related information to students and parents. I discussed the idea with my mother who immediately approved of it. In fact she was the one who suggested the name Institute for Career Studies. It started in a small way in 1985,with just about 6 students!!!Q: Looking back, how do you feel about your career?
A: It feels really great. It feels as if the purpose of your life is being unfolded. It is a challenge to be able to guide students to find a career of their choice.Q: Can you shed light on the nature of your work at present?
A: The nature of my work is extremely varied. There is no set routine. The work includes a lot of visualizing and planning , brain storming sessions with our counsellors, getting their ideas and inputs, networking with our member schools, counselling and so forth. Oh! Yes, I also have to travel around a lot. I often get wonderful ideas when I am sitting alone in a train or on an aeroplane (laughs). You can sum up my work as Commuting, Communicating, connecting and counselling.
Q: What are the most sought after career options today?
A: There are myriads of options. Some of the emerging careers are in the ICE (Information - Communication - Entertainment) sector, Design/ Art, Services Sectors (Hotel Management, Travel and Tourism, Education, Insurance and Hospital Management), Science and Technology, Management, Law, Agriculture and Social Work. Specialisation in subjects like Psychology, Economics, Geography, Mathematics, Statistics, History, Political Science and International Relations etc. also have a number of openings.
Q: Do you agree that in our country, overpopulation leads to limited choices and stiff competition?
A: No. On the contrary our population can be a source of strength for us. Lets look at it from another angle: We have the world's largest pool of trained, English speaking, techno-savvy, professional young men and women.
In fact I strongly believe that if we could provide our youth access to education and health, they will be our biggest asset.
Q: Do you agree that often the brilliant students do not get what they deserve?
A: Let us get to the crux of the problem. Most meritorious students are compelled or persuaded to take up the science stream and then opt for medicine or engineering. Moreover, many career aspirants appear in whatever entrance exams come their way, without properly ascertaining their abilities, potential and interests. Hence the impression that the competition is stiff.In India careers are mainly made by chance not by choice
. After a lapse of time, students discover that they are unable to cope or the subject does not hold their interest. Ultimately they end up frustrated and disillusioned.
In my opinion each individual student ought to be more discerning and focused regarding career choices. Parents have a major role in facilitating ideal career choices for their children. They must bear in mind that every individual has some talent or the other; a person may not be good in academics but he/ she may be able to outshine others in sports, art & craft, dance, music, etc.
This is where career consultants can step in to steer the lives of the young people in the right direction. I believe that if we are able to identify aptitudes and interests, people will be able to select appropriate careers and we will get many more success stories.Q : What do you have to say about the Indian youth's craze to study abroad?
Yes, many more students aspire to study abroad. There are numerous reasons for this, the major ones being access to quality education, vast range of courses and subject combinations, getting the course of your choice, bank loans and of course international exposure.
However, while taking a decision to study abroad it is essential to undertake a cost-benefit analysis. For students planning to go after their Plus Two, parents should assess their emotional maturity as well. This is because they will have to cope with "a major culture shock" particularly when faced with sexual promiscuity and easy access to drugs.
While planning for college/ university education it is also important to look beyond Delhi. There are some very good colleges and institutes in Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore etc.
An informed approach towards tertiary education will make all the difference.Q : How can one become a career consultant?
To become a career consultant one needs to have the following qualities:
Be a good listener
Be perceptive and understanding
Be people oriented
Be extremely well-informed
Must possess sound judgement
Must have an ability to look into the future
Have the ability to facilitate career planningQ : What would be your advice to the youth of today?
I would advise the youth: Know yourself, inform yourself and plan your future keeping in mind your interests, aptitude, potential and skills; set your goals and work towards them purposefully. I always say " If you can dream it, you can do it"
Believe me, there are no ideal careers, only ideal choices and we are there to help you make it happen.