Is long-dis­tance the right fit for you?

OUT OF THE BOX Stu­dents are opt­ing for dis­tance grad­u­a­tion, pur­su­ing in­tern­ships and ca­reers while they study

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Ali­fya Poon­awala

Goenka, 23, a graphic artist from Mumbai, made an un­con­ven­tional de­ci­sion af­ter Class 12. She de­cided to opt for the BA cor­re­spon­dence course of­fered by Mumbai univer­sity, and use her time ex­plor­ing ca­reer choices.

She tried her hand at event man­age­ment for a while, work­ing as an event co­or­di­na­tor at Rolling Stone magazine.

“One year into events, I took up graphic de­sign and that’s what I’ve been do­ing ever since,” she says.

In ad­di­tion to her grad­u­ate de­gree, she has com­pleted a six-month de­sign course and is now a graphic artist at Rock Street Jour­nal, a monthly mu­sic magazine.

“I t worked out per­fectly be­cause I did not spend cru­cial years of my life study­ing sub­jects that would have no real rel­e­vance to me. In­stead I ex­plored fields that in­ter­ested me and got some hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence — and the con­tacts I made at Rolling Stone helped me get my job here,” Goenka says. “When you are a full-time stu­dent, there is very lit­tle time or in­cli­na­tion in you to ex­per­i­ment or do some­thing on your own. By opt­ing to work af­ter Class 12, I learnt early on val­ues such as re­la­tion­ship-build­ing, ne­go­ti­a­tion skills and the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Now I am in a bet­ter po­si­tion than most graphic artists my age, who just start­ing out as in­terns af­ter grad­u­a­tion.” There has been a 20% rise in the num­ber of stu­dents opt­ing to grad­u­ate via cor­re­spon­dence cour­ses, over the past five years, ac­cord­ing to Di­nesh Kam­ble, regis­trar of the Mumbai univer­sity’s In­sti­tu­tion of Dis­tance and Open Learn­ing (IDOL).

“One pri­mary rea­son is the mas­sive com­pe­ti­tion in every field of em­ploy­ment, so to give them­selves a head­start, stu­dents feel they need to start early,” Kam­ble adds. “Where dis­tance learn­ing used to be frowned upon as an op­tion only for stu­dents who could not se­cure ad­mis­sion to a good in­sti­tute or were not se­ri­ous about aca­demics, the in­ter­net gen­er­a­tion is cu­ri­ous,open-minded and wants to get out there and learn from real-world ex­pe­ri­ences. Spoon feed­ing in class­rooms does not ap­peal them any­more.”

It helps that em­ploy­ers have moved with t he t i mes t oo. “In­dus­try ex­pects new re­cruits to de­liver in the short­est time pos­si­ble af­ter in­duc­tion and on-the-job train­ing, so pre­vi­ous i nter nships and work ex­pe­ri­ence are wel­come,” says Kishore Pin­gulkar, founder and di­rec­tor of Key HR Solutions, a hu­man re­source con­sul­tancy firm. “How­ever, with­out hav­ing a de­gree to be­gin with, it is com­mon that you may jump from one pro­file to an­other. Even with in­tern­ships, this shows an un­sta­ble work ap­proach and can have a neg­a­tive im­pact on your CV.” DO THE SWOT It may sound tempt­ing — no lec­tures, you set your own hours, pick your own sub­jects. But self-de­signed cour­ses are not for every teen.

The most cru­cial de­cid­ing fac­tor will be, do you re­ally know what you want to do with the rest of your life?

The SWOT analysis be­gins with de­cid­ing whether your cho­sen field is a good fit for a com­bi­na­tion of long-dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion and hands-on work ex­pe­ri­ence.

“But to do a dis­tance course, you must be sure about your fu­ture ca­reer,” says Fa­tima Ag arkar, e duca­tion c ouns el l or and f ounder of KA EduAs­so­ci­ates. “A long-dis­tance de­gree could end up hurt­ing rather than boost­ing your ca­reer, if not han­dled right. If you plan to grad­u­ate in the arts or hu­manties, while pur­su­ing a ca­reer of your choice, that could make for an im­pres­sive CV.”

Com­mer­cial art is one field where you can ac­tu­ally vastly im­prove your chances if you spend your post-school years hon­ing your craft while grad­u­at­ing long-dis­tance, Sin­hal adds.

“The rea­son for this is that cre­ativ­ity can­not be taught, only re­fined over time. Whereas when two lab sci­en­tists on a project, it is the abil­ity to crunch data and the time taken to ar­rive at the so­lu­tion that make the dif­fer­ence — and that de­pends on prin­ci­ples best learnt in a class­room, through a struc­ture course of study.”

You also need to be sure you can keep your so­cial life ac­tive, be­cause col­lege is when you make most of your ‘friends for life’, be­gin to ne­go­ti­ate adult re­la­tion­ships and start net­work­ing. BE PRE­PARED TO WORK HARDER, DO MORE “Opt­ing for the dis­tance learn­ing- work ex­pe­ri­ence op­tion means you have to use those years in a way that will make a dif­fer­ence and that will vis­i­bly and pow­er­fully ex­plain your choice to fu­ture em­ploy­ers,” says Prat­i­bha Jain, ed­u­ca­tion coun­sel­lor and CEO of EduAbroad.

In those three years, you need to do at least three in­tern­ships and as many free­lance projects. “Plan early and start ap­ply­ing be­fore you en­roll for your dis­tance course. Try your hand at dif­fer­ent work cul­tures, through a mix of start-ups and es­tab­lished com­pa­nies; this will show that you are a flex­i­ble em­ployee,” Jain adds.

Per­son­al­ity, of course, is cru­cial. You need to be self­mo­ti­vated, ef­fi­cient, a good time man­ager.


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