A comment by Alexis on the last post triggered this post. In the last post I described a typical working day anecdote. Small events that sometimes make you laugh. But behind this particular event lies a sad truth that is going unnoticed by the students and parents of today.
When I joined my first job in an IT MNC purely on the merit of my track record as a copywriter, there was a rush of girls in my family in Kerala to do English, Journalism and Mass Communication. Everyone thought that my present professional status was due to me taking English. Thank god for some frantic phone calls from me, which made them change their minds.
What a lot of people didn’t realize was that I have years of reading behind me that embellished my English. I am sure most people who write English have been through the same evolution. Copywriting, Content Writing, Creative Writing like Fine Arts is a talent-based profession. And the people who are now working in the communications arena are people who can pull it off. I mean make boring technical manuals into attractive and readable brochures, make website content appealing so that a potential customer goes through it and enquires about your services leading to sales. But there are thousands of students pursuing a course in Mass Communications, English and Journalism without even knowing what it entails.
Consider this. The other day a Journalism trainee was working with the Corporate Communications team as part of her College Project. The poor girl had never read any notable authors, nor could she write a line of English properly. She was near to tears when told to make a simple bulleted ppt presentation on a PR exercise done by the Corp Comm team. Over coffee I chatted up with her. She is graduating next year from a high profile private university. What she told me appalled me. She, like many others were ‘counseled’ about the scope of taking up a ‘Journalism Course’ without even checking if this girl could write English well. She is one among the 90 odd students doing this course paying almost 2 lakhs.
Another incident: My friend runs a small design studio. When she advertised for Graphic Designers, a lot of freshers turned up. All of them had been through the Multimedia course and knew the mandatory Photoshop, Corel Draw, Dream weaver etc. As I went through the process of testing them I stumbled upon another startling fact. None of these guys were artists. All of them were regular graduates who were attracted by the thought of becoming hotshot 'Art Directors’. What they didn’t realize was that Graphic Design is for artists and these softwares is just another means to transfer their art onto the computer monitor. What’s the point of giving a paintbrush in the hand of a guy who does not even know how to draw??? These poor kids knew how to operate the software but did not know how to ‘create works of art’ with it. And they too had shelled out 50 K apiece for their courses. In companies like mine only Chithra Kala Parishad or Art graduates with a Multimedia Course are allowed in as Graphic Designers. Which leaves scores of ‘Multimedia’ students out in the cold.
Students in the non-technical streams need thorough counseling so that they take up courses suited to their skills. Regular colleges don’t bother and the private universities and institutes entice students with visions of promising careers only to fill their coffers. The result, a large amount of money wasted in useless courses. These Institutes promise placement too, which is a clever arrangement with certain companies. For example students who pass out Travel and Ticketing courses are placed with small travel agencies for a pittance. The institutes have thus honored their promise, the travel agency gets cheap labor and the student soon quits, due to the abysmally low pay.
Once my Dad remarked sarcastically looking at the mushrooming institutes, that if car washing was a paying job then we would have an “ABC Car Washing Institute, 100% placements guaranteed!”
Vocational courses are big bucks now. And no one is bothered whether you have the vocation or inclination for the course.