Today, the most sought-after career option after 12th standard is to take up an engineering course. Most often, you get into an engineering college without even realizing what you are getting into!! It could be your parents’ dream, pressure from society, peer pressure, or maybe sheer ignorance of any other career opportunity. After two years of slogging in junior college with hopes of an IIT or an NIT seat, you would end up in some engineering college (no doubt because nowadays the seats outnumber the students, so there is no question of not getting a seat!!). You feel you deserve to enjoy after all the slogging. So the first two years pass by like a breeze, and before you realize, you are well into the third year, and people start asking you, what next??

Now most students that I come across are confused about their future at this stage. Most often, the parents by this stage, have given up trying to influence you. Either their dream of seeing you as an engineer is fulfilled, so there is no further pressure, or you have become more independent and are no longer inclined to be prejudiced by their views.

Whatever be the case, most often, you are the decision-maker now. How should you decide? Listen to friends, teachers, uncles, aunts, cousins, parents, seniors….. Each one gives a different suggestion and whenever you see someone successful, you want to emulate them or listen to their advice. But then, each option is different and how should you choose? This is a crucial decision and should be a personal one. You should not take any option because someone else is doing that. This should be a calculated decision, and well thought-out.

The following factors will influence your decision or choice –
1) Responsibility towards family – financial dependence. If there is no dependence on you, then why should you limit your education at this stage? Why not go for higher studies that will help boost your career prospects for a lateral entry into managerial roles or technical specialists? If you are thinking of working for a few years and then going for higher studies, give a serious thought. Would you like to give up regular income for two or more years in order to study further? With time, will you not have further responsibilities? This factor is completely personal for each individual and cannot be compared with your friends.

2) Interest in Core field or technical aptitude – Some of you who have a genuine interest in the engineering field need to build your expertise by going for higher studies. This can only be achieved with an M.Tech from the IITs or IISC. Doing an M.Tech for the sake of a PG degree is of no use. In fact, for those who are opting for an IT career, it is not required. Even after M.Tech, you would be doing the same job that you could do after B.Tech.

3) Dream of going abroad – Those who have a desire to work outside India should take the GRE exam and go for an MS program. Do note however, that you need to work atleast for 3-4 years outside India before you return. Else, the MS degree will not have much value. Now I know a lot of people, who think of going abroad for a management program, because they cannot get into the IIMs. Don’t think that writing the GMAT and doing an MBA abroad is in any way easier than doing an MBA in India. Moreover, unless you are interested in working abroad, the knowledge that you gain abroad, cannot be applied in India because the working conditions and environment are completely different!!!

4) Not interested in engineering – Need to change gears!! Those who have a flair for business or interested in numbers, meeting/interacting with people, should go in for an MBA. This would be a very good opportunity to change to other fields – like Finance, Marketing, HR, Operations. However, assess your capabilities and your interests before taking this decision. Read up on these courses, talk to seniors about the job profiles and what it takes to get there. Because you need to know what you are getting into. You cannot be in the same state 2 years later!!

I know a lot of people who get into an MBA program without really knowing why they are doing so or what they are getting into. Now, MBA need not be synonymous with CAT. Of course CAT is the mother of all exams, and IIMs are the best in the country, but there are plenty of other good options too. Now, there is also a national level exam CMAT conducted by AICTE which will be used by all institutes other than IIMs. So don’t think MBA is beyond reach.

5) Want to take it easy and enjoy life – Take up a job as part of the Campus placements. Now it is a paradox. Does one enjoy life as a student or as a working professional? Well, it is a question of perspective. Enjoy without responsibilities as a student, enjoy having money, not having to write exams(cannot say not having to study, because learning is a continuous process and does not end here),then you need to get a job and start earning.

Now, whatever you decide to do, always take the campus placements very seriously. A job in hand while in the final year, will give you a lot of confidence. It will change your personality. Self-confidence will make a huge difference to your outlook and you will be able to take up any challenge that comes your way. It will also be a fall-back option in case you are unable to secure a seat for higher studies or have problems obtaining a visa. Start thinking about these factors while in your third year itself. By the time you step into the fourth year, firm up your plans and set your goal. Now all you need to do is plan and achieve your goal. No more dilemma or uncertainty about your future!!