After College – What?

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After College – What?
Sridhar Gopal, Premium Member, Management Consultant, India

Its common to have a job as an MBA destination.How about including entrepreneurship as a career plan?

After two decades of professional experience and a practicing business coach and mentor, am a visiting faculty mostly teaching Human resources and Marketing courses, at one of the well growing B school of Bangalore. Students enroll here mostly with good entrance test rankings and are reasonably intelligent and smart enough to be ‘Managers of substance’.
This semester teaching apart, I have two additional responsibilities on my shoulder: One - to train some students on Enterprise leadership and two – offer my advice to freshmen students on their career planning. While the former one is an exciting task, it’s the latter that concerns me a bit. Although I have been a coach and the mentor, the scenario there is customized to an individual, unlike here in which am told to deliver a career advice to the ‘world ‘. Well, I have to practice what am taught and I preach – “There can be failure in an attempt, but not a failure to attempt than failing to attempt...”Thus I prepare for the task on hand.
Whenever a class of B school students are asked the rational for choosing an MBA program its popularly “to get a good job, earn more (meaning exponentially!) and even retire early (read in 40s) …”Did anybody say he wants to start an enterprise, bring it up and end a busy career probably being a philantropher.I have not heard one so far. If I may draw a little hasty conclusion - an entrepreneurial route is more by accidental happening then by significant planning.
The fresher’s (recently joined students) welcome day drawing closer, my thoughts run on these lines:
Unlike the 20th century, today opportunities are ever expanding along with the universe and the challenge is not picking up one “that is right” but, one “that is best suited for oneself”.This is because there are more than one right way and opportunities out there in the market. This trend calls for the institutions to be more proactive in playing the role of ‘talent and skill identifier’ and let the student realize what she is good at ‘really’. Institutions must set up mechanisms to nurture these talents and skills. On the part of the parents and industry, they are best when they partner with the learning institutions in nurturing their child’s skill that can be marketed well post graduation. Society has a role to play in terms of recognizing these talents and industry should be willing think on how to accommodate these talents and add to their library of innovation tools. Finally, students must be honest enough to acknowledge these talents and skills in them and draw the courage to showcase it along their career. Of course all these are subjects of lengthy discussions and debates in itself.Nevertheless, it’s an initiative to think in the futuristic terms.
The present market has made avenues for both sets of professionals.One – Talents and skilled and two – for the well educated.The talented and skilled many a times have proven that they can create markets with, without and in spite of university education and there is a market – sometimes huge – that accept their products and services. These people go ahead and form the entrepreneurs breed. On the other side there are talents and skills that let’s one to crack any level of competitive test and enter a formal learning world and they go on to form the employee breed of.Of course, the intermittent options are out of the scope of this discussion.
A bird’s eye view of the career model in general is something like Home - School - Job – Home. This means one begins his life from his home goes to school, spends sixteen plus years and gets into job, spends about thirty plus years and retires and settles back at home. There is yet another career model: Home –School – Job – Entrepreneur – (angel) investor/ philanthropy. This is somewhat interesting to me as this seems to strike a good career balance. In the coming years we would have a great number of opportunities for entrepreneurs.The basis for this conviction is the advent of technology and its ‘complex ’impact in almost all spheres of life. After graduation he chooses to work for say fifteen years and look at the entrepreneurial stint and fifteen years later look at the ‘easy’ option such as philanthropy, angel investment etc.This way we could strike a balance among school employment and entrepreneurship before completing a formal career cycle. Like I said before there is more than one right career model. I remember my professor’s words few years ago “if you need to create an impact in the world you need to be an engineer….” Another thought just strikes me “ …if we need to impact the world and bring about a good change probably, we need to be an entrepreneur –that’s in the near future.


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