Do you feel uncertain of a career option? Do you lack the freedom to choose a subject that you really want to pursue? Do you always feel low on self-confidence? Are you constantly doubting yourself? A Q&A column to assuage your doubts.

My son is in the eighth semster of BE mechanical engineering. His average CGPA in all previous seven semesters is 8.36. He has done three internships so far. He has now been selected for a job in Japan through campus placement. For this, he is required to complete three levels (N3, N4, N5) in the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test course which will cost ₹58,500. He has already availed an education loan. Kindly help me assess the genuineness of the job. – M. Srinivasa Reddy

Dear Mr. Reddy,

Congratulations! Your son has done well indeed. As you have not mentioned which company he is joining in Japan, I wouldn’t really know the genuineness of the job. However, you must write/call and meet the concerned HR of the company that have reassured him of this assignment and discuss this further.

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT, is a standardised criterion referenced to test, evaluate and certify Japanese language proficiency for non-native speakers, covering language knowledge, and reading and listening ability. N4 and N5 measure the level of understanding of basic Japanese mainly learned in class. N3 is a bridging level between N4/N5.

I understand the fee is steep indeed but perhaps it is a basic criterion for him to understand and become language proficient in Japan in order to work there. Wishing your son and you the very best.

I am 23. I graduated in mechanical engineering in 2017. For the last one year, I have been preparing for banking exams, but I have still not been able to clear any of the preliminary exams. I am also apprehensive that I do not have any work experience since, immediately after my graduation, I joined bank coaching and have been preparing for it. Now, I am confused about whether to continue my preparation or try to find a job so that my future won’t be ruined. Is it possible to find a job in the private sector after a long gap? – Abhishek Natikar

Dear Abhishek,

We won’t really know till we try. Nothing is ruined, please relax. One year is hardly a huge gap, but the lesser it is, the better! I think it is indeed a great idea to start applying to companies that you might like to work with (they will induct you and teach you all that they want you to know) and also keep studying in your free time and taking the bank exam. Either one of these is bound to click, and then you can decide on what you really want to pursue. Once you are employed, you will be financially stable and feel confident and good about yourself. Good luck!

I am 18 and pursuing my bachelor’s degree with math and economics, in a rare combination, as a non-collegiate. I wanted to pursue my degree from DU, but because of financial problems I couldn’t. I couldn’t prepare well for my first-year exams andv subsequently, failed math. I want to become an IAS officer and have started basic preparations. My parents can’t send me for coaching. I am confused as to what should I do next — should I focus on my degree or give up pursuing UPSC? – Manish

Hi! You are 18 and so ambitious that you should be using this to ‘fuel’ your dreams; not giving up and second guessing yourself. So what if you failed the math exam? Take it again, prepare harder this time and crack it. Use your resilience and perseverance as your strength — to work harder. There are many UPSC toppers who come from humble and rather impoverished backgrounds and do not have the luxury of attending fancy coaching classes. Do they still top the exam and make it? Sure they do!

You have no time for confusion. Get on and complete your degree and study for the UPSC exam. There are libraries, free on-line support and tutorials available. Don’t doubt your capability. You can do it!

I am 26. I completed my B.Tech and M.Tech from an IIT. I am currently working, but I have always wanted to become a professor (History/English Literature). It is intimidating to go back and start afresh with a bachelor’s degree in either of these subjects. Is it possible to start from the master’s level and eventually become a professor, or is a bachelor’s degree in the same subject a must for that goal? – Shreya

Dear Shreya,

That is really a dilemma. Unfortunately, given our educational system, you might need to go back and do your M.A in English-Lit/History. You will first need to take an entrance exam to solicit the course and the university that you choose. Each educational institute has its own entrance criteria. Identify the college and find out the process accordingly.

Would a teaching fellowship interest you? Teach for India Fellowship, Young India Fellowship, Azim Premji Foundation Fellowship Programme could perhaps give you the edge and the needed credentials to join a college of your choice, eventually.

You could also do a master’s programme, specialisation and/or a certification in English Literature / history from a credited university abroad. Good luck!

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 will answer questions sent to The subject line should be: ‘Off the edge’

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