In my final year of undergraduate studies, I was faced with the same troubles and tribulations of an average career-oriented woman in the making. I had put in sincere effort to balance work and play – by working in a lab during the summer break and being an active member of the college’s film society during the semester.
In the process of writing my first script, I realised I was interested in a somewhat creative career in the long run. While I pursued my master’s degree, I interned with a start-up as a content writer for their blog and followed it up by continuing to write for Mindler.
I was never completely sure of where I would go and what I would study but continued to surround myself with options. With this article, the third in this series (Part 1 | Part 2), I intend to drive home one point – life does not end if you no longer feel comfortable or happy doing whatever degree you pursued.
Let’s say, your college is about to end, you studied science for 3-4 years now but are not looking forward to doing a PhD or pursuing a career in academia. This is the advice you need!
1. Fellowships: Giving Back to the Society
Exploring a field instead of taking up one degree after another requires great courage and conviction. But if you have a cause in mind that you wish to work for, and are ready to take up challenges head-on, fellowships are your best bet.
Not only do most of these pay you stipend, but these experiences also go a long way in helping you to meet like-minded people for future collaborations. Additionally, a hands-on learning experience after the grind in classrooms for 3 or more years can be like a fresh start.
There are many fellowships in the country which allow one to work on the grassroot level in diverse fields and test their mettle out:
- LAMP Fellowship (Policy Making and Governance)
- Prime Minister’s Rural Fellowship (Development)
- William J Clinton Fellowship (Development)
- Teach for India (Education)
- Azim Premji Foundation Fellowship (Education)
- Gandhi Fellowship (Education)
- Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship (Writing)
- Multiple Fellowships by Goethe Institute (Writing)
- Young India Fellowship (Liberal Arts Education)
I too had applied to the Teach for India fellowship during the final year of my college. I remember how their office was bustling with enthusiasm when I went to take the on-spot exam, followed by a personal interview wherein I was asked to elaborate on every professional experience and project in my CV and beyond. The experience left me rather satisfied with the seriousness of the recruiters for the organisation.
Applying to TFI or likewise, any other fellowship, is an opportunity to get a new perspective in life and build leadership qualities as well.
Recommended Read: Young India Fellowship (YIF): My Journey From Application to Selection
2. Paid Internships: Work Towards a Master’s by Gaining Work-Ex
For people looking to go abroad and shift into alternative science domains – for example, clinical research, public health, governance and policy-making, public relations and outreach – gaining work experience before diving into formal education is a wise step.
It can help you decide the right course for yourself, ironing out doubts about applications, and in general, navigating unfamiliar terrain. So, I would recommend looking up people on LinkedIn and writing to them about specific questions pertaining to the expectations from the job.
A start-up may pay you less, but will offer more opportunities and freedom to work on things you like. Thus, joining a start-up may also be a great way to understand your strengths.
There is also a possibility that you have been dying to explore creative fields or alternate science fields, but have not found the time thanks to course work. After your bachelor’s, exploring positions through internships is a great way to do so. Many internships are advertised regularly on websites like Internshala, LetsIntern, LinkedIn, Angelist, Twenty19, Hellointern, etc.
Recommended Read: 8 Reasons Why You Should Not Pursue Master’s Right After Graduation
3. Science in Different Contexts: Far from the Lab
The Bangalore science scene (like the stand-up and information technology scene) is booming with potential, and the rest of the bigger cities in India, like Pune, Delhi, Chennai would catch up soon. Indian institutes are looking to compete internationally.
Thus, communicating in-house scientific discoveries accurately, through the written word, infographics or any other sort of audio-visual media, has become imperative. For people with a sound knowledge of science, and a creative flair, science communication jobs are right up their alley.
Recently, projects at the interface of science and visual arts are becoming increasingly popular. NID, IISc (CPDM), SRISHTI are among some of the design schools that actively collaborate on such projects and have courses for interested students. One may require some basic skills in drawing and knowledge of design software, to get involved in these though.
Qualifying the JRF/NET after your bachelor’s or master’s also allows you to be a teacher at certain levels in private schools/college, usually after a master’s degree.
Additionally, for science students who may also be history buffs, jobs in archives, museums and popular media for dissemination of accurate information – like encyclopaedias, children’s books, editorial positions are also exciting options.
The key follow-up to these ideas is, of course, to write emails to the publishing houses and the museums/archives cells in the country and ask for positions!
Recommended Read: Welcome to the Future: 9 Emerging Careers for Science Students
4. Environmental Sciences, Agriculture and Allied fields
Choosing your bachelor’s/master’s carefully can go a long way in defining your job prospects. Higher education in environmental sciences, food technology, agriculture and allied sciences such as horticulture, forestry and veterinary sciences are among some of the options which make you readily employable.
A master’s in environment-related courses would allow one to be employed in government schemes (like the recent Swachh Bharat Abhiyan), UNDP projects and other sustainable youth development programmes.
There are also opportunities to become an environmental auditor, or work in the waste management divisions of companies. Thus, though fresh out of a bachelor’s, pursuing an education in environmental sciences in India or abroad, opens doors to both government and the private sector.
Another lucrative sector is the food technology industry. Graduates are hired right after the completion of their courses, often through campus placements. An off-beat career option is to obtain training in short coffee/wine/tea tasting courses after a bachelor’s in food-related sectors and be employed in the hospitality sector.
Those who may have a microbiology background can also be employed in the brewing industry as R&D after a master’s in food technology. The Indian Institute of Packaging also offers PG Diplomas which enable employment in another allied sector.
With an education in forestry and allied fields, one can work as a forest ranger (range officer) in one of the many state forest departments in the country. Another way to land a job in forestry is to crack the Indian Forest Services exam.
Recommended Read: Not Just Farming: 9 Upcoming (and Promising) Careers In Agriculture
5. Public Health, Administration and Governance
Other fields that recruit science graduates include public health, science policy and administration, often due to the relevance of their background.
TISS is among the best in India for courses in public health, administration, environment (with a focus on climate change) and, development/governance. Their programmes in hospital administration should be particularly interesting for people looking to work in the healthcare sector. The institute allows for securing jobs in NGOs and the government.
Azim Premji University is another good option for courses along similar lines. PHFI has courses in public health and clinical research with a focus on policy development. All of these have a major practical portion to them – so theory and work will go hand-in-hand.
Recommended Read: Unsuccessful at Campus Placements? Here are 8 Steps to Get On Track!
Hopefully, reading this article would have brought light to your or a loved one’s professional life. Many people feel the only way out of a B.Sc or M.Sc is to head to research or teaching, which is far from the truth for millennials.
It is always possible to develop different skill sets through work experience or higher studies and expand your horizons – becoming a school teacher is NOT your only viable option.
If you keep shuffling and ask for help whenever you find yourself stuck, you would find yourself in greener pastures. To get a more comprehensive view of the options mentioned in the article, evaluate your suitability for the same and find out more options, speak to career experts.
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