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The Indian education system puts a timeframe around learning. Though it posits that learning is a lifelong endeavour, it fervently encourages students to undertake the conventional formula of completing boards, doing graduation followed immediately by postgraduation. However, this hurry to complete all levels of education usually forces young learners to take up PG programmes they are not interested in or have been persuaded into by their families or peers. It also doesn’t make them well-equipped to deal with challenges and pressures that come with a new job, for they have only had a theoretical understanding and are not equipped with practical knowledge to deal with pressing issues.

The way out of this quagmire is to stagger one’s education, says Dr Rakesh Godhwani, SoME Founder in the latest edition of Conversations with Rakesh. No hard and fast rule says your PG has to follow graduation, he says. You have your entire life in front of you to continue your studies, and learning never stops.

Instead of hurtling into PG, step out of your comfort zone, and get a job or an internship that will enable you to understand your strengths, weaknesses, skills, and interests, empowering you to make an informed decision regarding your postgraduation. Take time to learn more about the challenges of the 21st-century workplace and then upskill yourself better through higher education, says Dr Godhwani.

Watch the video to learn more.

The following is an edited transcript of the video.

Here’s today’s question – sir, I am in my third year BBA, and I feel lost. I don’t know what to do next. Should I do an MBA, Data Analytics, AI or Python? Also, my family is persuading me to join the family business. So I am confused about my next step.

My dear friend, many of us at that age were confused and lost too. Your generation has so many options, and that can make one feel overwhelmed. The emotion you are feeling now is a combination of tremendous anxiety about the future and making the right choices which can be very hard on you.

However, what I want to do is give you a different perspective. You are only 20, and all that many of you do at that age is wake up, eat, study, play something, and go back to sleep.

This is the gift you have been given, a privileged reality of the world that will change pretty soon. You are about to enter a new world that is very different from the one you inhabited till now, and you have to go through metamorphosis to survive there.

Here, it will all be about survival, upskilling, figuring out what is important, and fending for yourself. The question is, are you prepared to step into this new world?

Now is a good time to prepare for the world.

  • Don’t be in a hurry to finish your education: You are just 20; you have at least 70 to 75 more years in front of you. So, don’t be in a hurry to decide something immediately! Postpone your higher education, and concentrate on and finish your BBA. In our country, we believe that we should end our education in one stretch. I don’t think that’s the correct approach. Education is an ongoing continuous process. Don’t be in a hurry to complete your graduation, then do postgraduation by 22, and join work. Soon you will realise that what you have studied in those colleges are not enough to help you navigate the challenges of the rapidly evolving workplace of the 21st century, and you will need to upskill. So, stagger and postpone your education.
  • Work and gain experience: Postponing education doesn’t mean sitting idle. It is an encouragement to leave your comfortable life and pick up any job you can. It is vital for you to see and sample this new world where your family will not be there to take care of you. You will have to clean your clothes, cook food, stay with roommates you don’t necessarily like, and adjust to this reality called life.

A movie that beautifully explains how interconnected our survival skills are with our ability to get out into the world and take up jobs – no matter how trivial – is the Salman Khan starrer Maine Pyaar Kiya. Khan wants to marry Bhagyashree, his love interest in the movie, but her father Alok Nath refuses and tells Khan that he is nothing without his wealthy family’s money. Khan promises to return after earning money from his own hard work and prove himself worthy of Bhagyashree. For the next couple of months, he undertakes all kinds of jobs, from breaking stones to driving trucks, to show Nath that he can earn money independently, thereby learning to survive in a world very different from his own. Like many youngsters, Khan was also living a privileged life. When he stepped out of his bubble, he realised he needed to unlearn his old habits and learn new skills that will enable him to fend for himself.

So, prepare to leave the comfortable life and take up an internship or job on your own. Even if the pay is abysmal, take it up. It will help you gain a new perspective on life and the world. Or, you could try doing a job that aligns with your degree. So, if you are doing BBA, join a company’s accounting or sales department, or help out with their call centre division. Learn the business, understand the process and the challenges.

Working soon after graduation will enable you to realise the skill sets you have and your strengths, empowering you to make an informed decision about the future. Equipped with this experience, you will be able to decide without confusion what programme you want to do – MBA, AI, Data Analytics, or none of the above. You might even be encouraged to start your own company, filling a product of service gap existing in society.

So to those wondering what to do for PG, my advice is don’t be in a hurry, take a break, and gain some work experience. Go and earn some money on your own, understand how the world works and how you can create value for yourself, your family and society.

Watch the video on YouTube.