Revive your career in 2021

Revive your career in 2021

Representative image. Credit: Getty Images

Recently, I had the opportunity to interact with a young IT professional. Raj (name changed) is from a middle-class family in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. He was quite a good student but didn’t perform well in his Class 12 exam or the engineering entrance exams. So Raj only managed to get admission into a tier-3 engineering college in Andhra Pradesh — one of the many such institutions in the state.

While he was hungry to learn, the environment — whether it was his classmates or professors — was hardly conducive to learning. Studying hard did not lead to acquiring good technology skills. He graduated with a degree in engineering in 2017 and got a job at a large consulting major through off-campus placements, with an offer of Rs 3.5 lakh per annum.

He was happy and immersed himself into the training and work. Within six months, he started to get disillusioned, when he realised that his work mostly involved doing mainframe production support for large US banks. Most of his teammates were stuck doing the same type of work, with little opportunity to do any development work or learn new-age technology.

In fact, Raj realised that most of his seniors were stuck with the same kind of work despite having worked for seven to eight years. Their career growth was limited, as was the profile and salary. Meanwhile, he saw that his peers working in development in other companies earning almost three to four times his salary. Raj felt like his career had hit a dead end.

Catch-22 situation

Raj’s current company was offering him opportunities based on what he was capable of based on his current skill level; but without any opportunity to learn, he had no hope of upskilling or moving to the next level.

Such stories are hardly unique. There are over a million developers all over India who are in the same quandary as Raj. For a large number of engineering graduates, stagnation begins right at the start of their career, often due to the sub-par technical education at their college or university.

These graduates get placed in low-end jobs that do not provide necessary opportunities to learn. As many fall behind their peers, they often find themselves frustrated.

So here are the challenges that Raj faces:

No practical experience

A bulk of our engineering curriculum offers no relevant opportunities to work on meaningful projects or gain practical experience during the course of study.

Instead, students are stuck with a bunch of certificates that simply don’t equip them to solve practical problems.

No career growth

When professionals only get to work on jobs that require less skill sets and are low in complexity, there is little learning at play. Unfortunately, these professionals are far more likely to find themselves on benches frequently, thereby resulting in stagnant career growth.

Low self-confidence

Without the required opportunities and exposure, professionals can suffer from a real lack of confidence. They find themselves constantly questioning their capabilities to land a challenging role and excel in it. Often, it can lead to dejection as they are out of touch and consequently miss out on several opportunities.

Lack of mentorship

Most young professionals end up meandering through their career without proper guidance or a mentor. While they might take efforts to upskill, these often tend to be restricted to boring video tutorials that yield limited benefits when it comes to achieving real growth.

Bridging the learning gap

Despite having lakhs of young engineering professionals graduate from its colleges each year, India is missing out on the opportunity to capitalise on its huge demographic advantage.

Rather than simply teaching theory, colleges need to equip graduating engineers with the ability to problem-solve independently, understand customer requirements deeply, and build technical products.

Professionals serious about building a career in technology need to focus on avenues that offer high-quality experiential learning. This means taking a well-thought-out, practical approach rather than going after fads.

Research, talk to peers to understand the opportunities available. Take time out to understand industry developments and skills required.

● Given the pace of change, learning is not a one-time activity. It needs to be a constant effort. Having a strong foundation helps you navigate the changes effectively.

● Take time to set goals that align with aspirations before investing effort in upskilling. The objective should not be to earn a new certificate. Instead, focus on building the skills that allows you to perform on the job and deliver results.

With the right attitude and well-directed efforts, professionals can make the shift towards a more fulfilling career that allows them to reach their true potential.

(The author is co-founder and CEO of a Bengaluru-based learning platform)