I have completed my B.E in mechanical engineering in 2016 and am preparing for the UPSC. I have been without a job for the last one-and-a-half years. My family supports me, but I’am apprehensive about failing. I also worry about how my future will be bleak if I do not crack the exam and whether I will get a job after such a long gap. What should I do — apply for a job and simultaneously prepare for the exam, or prepare for the exam full-time? Many a times, this is a cause for my concern which distracts me from studying. Please help. – Rakesh Deekonda

Dear Rakesh, your concern is quite valid. The UPSC exams are the toughest in India. This is due to the difficulty of the questions asked and also the selection ratio. You are aware that every year, lakhs of aspirants attempt this exam and the number of students appearing has been steadily on the rise. It is a tough, rigorous, exhaustive process, no doubt. There are also only a limited number of vacancies (only approximately 1,000, for all the 24 services combined such as IAS, IPS, IFS, and so on — and this includes 49.5% reservation), which only makes the selection process tight. My intent of sharing this with you is to encourage you work on your plan B. Yes, keep preparing and try your best to crack this exam. However, given the fact that you are a qualified mechanical engineer, please look out for the right employment opportunity.

I am 21. I have completed my B.Tech in computer science and am currently working in the same field. I have never been a techie and have always been attracted towards history and the social sciences. I am unable to connect with my present job and want to do something else. I am also looking forward to joining defence, but unsure of being selected. What should I do? – Preksha Jain

Dear Preksha,

Never been a techie, but a computer science engineer — Story of our education system. You also say that you dislike your current job. Would you like to join the defence forces as a technical officer with your current qualification? Please check the web portals of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force to shortlist your choices. They also mention upfront, the selection criteria and the positions or branches that you will qualify under. You could also do a postgraduation and study further in India or abroad. Take a subject that you truly enjoy. Economics, education, history, geography, psychology, sociology, linguistics, the list is endless. You will need to calculate your pros and cons and make a final decision.

I am currently working as a HR coordinator in a software firm. I have been interested in interviewing candidates, and correcting their resumes. I also like speaking with people and listening to them. However, when I think about coaching, or even working with students I find the thought interesting. Is there a way to shift towards a coaching role from my current role? – Vaishak S

Hi Vaishak,

You seem almost tailor-made for working, mentoring, preparing, guiding and coaching students. You can eventually open your own consultancy and train candidates from professional and other colleges with employability and soft skills, and personality development. How different is your current HR coordinator’s role? What is it that you don’t like here? I am not sure what course you have done, but if this is where your heart is, please go for it. I am sure you will be successful, contented and happy.

I have been working with the central government for the last 13 years. I joined immediately after I passed my intermediate. After this I completed my postgraduation in sociology from IGNOU.

I am more interested in education than employment and want to pursue my higher studies, like doing a Phd, and serve the nation as a good teacher. Please help. – Zafar Mehraj Lone

Dear Zafar,

That is such a noble thought. We are in dire need of good committed teachers like you. What is stopping you from pursuing further studies and equipping yourself with the skills you need to become a great teacher? You will need to do your postgraduation first. Are you part of any schools or educational set up?

Have you heard of TFI? Read up on organisations like https://www.teachforindia.org and whilst at your job, try and engage with them to volunteer (maybe on weekends) and get a real taste of how it will be, should you decide to become a teacher. See if you enjoy the experience and then take a call to quit your central government job and pursue this full-time.

Disclaimer: This column is not a substitute for long-term therapy. It is merely a guiding voice. Some issues may need medical intervention.

The author is a practising counsellor and a trainer. She has worked extensively with students and young adults across a range of issues. She will answer questions sent to eduplus.

thehindu@gmail.com. The subject line should be: ‘Off the edge’.

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