It is generally the case that when students have to make a career choice, they are too young and don’t have much information to make a good decision. The best people to pass on advice are the ones who have gone through the same thing, and survived it. So we thought it would be best for working professionals to look back down their career paths and share their wisdom with students of today. So if you are a student who has completed 10th standard or 12th standard board exams, and pondering on what to do next, our series of interviews
will shed light. This week, we have Evana, the director of an incubation for startups. Evana is a social communication graduate from Brazil. She too, like most other students, had gone through the rough ride of choosing a course and college, and explains what influenced her choices and how they turned out for her.
Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: My name is Evana. I am 30 years old. I work in an incubation, a program for Rio, Brazil, created to develop the economy of the state, and I am a director. I work especially with the business startups. Being in the second round of the incubation program, we add 20 new startups every year.
Q: How did you start out? Were you educated in this field or was it something else and you moved to this field?
A: No, I studied something completely different; social communication with an emphasis on journalism. But I didn’t work in that field at all. Just an internship for 3 months. That’s it.
Q: During your education times, what would have helped you choose the right subjects, something that would have helped you better do what you do now?
A: At that time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to work. My father told me I shouldn’t worry about it because the profession that I will work will not exist; you will create it. And that is happening now. All this startup and the movement about economy is something really new, especially in Brazil. It will start paying off 10 years from now. I was working in another field, I met some guys who were trying to create a new startup, and I joined them. Since then I have worked with startups. That happened in the last year of college. I didn’t know I was going to do that till it started to happen.
Q: What about your friends, relatives and acquaintances? Did they choose something they liked or did they also end up changing their field of work?
A: Most students in Brazil, particularly in Rio, take up social communication or publicity or marketing; they change completely. I have only two or three friends who work as journalists. Others work in completely different fields.
When we had to choose what to study, we were very young. You study something, but you don’t even know what or how the job about it will be. And when you start to work
on that field, you discover that you hate it.
Q: Why do you think this happens? Why do you think no one has an understanding? It is a lot of effort and money spent going to colleges, and prime time of your life. You cannot feel as agile and productive as you were at 20.
A: When we had to choose what to study, we were very young. Very few people know at an early age, what they want to be in life. But the majority of students really don’t know. You study something, but you don’t even know what or how the job about it will be. And when you start to work on that field, you discover that you hate it. I have 2 friends who went to medicine school, and they hate it. Sometimes you discover during college, or during work. The real problem is you are too young, and a lot of people tell you what to do, but they are saying it on their own basis, what they like for you to do. My parents are doctors, but they didn’t force me to go to medicine school. They said you are free to choose. Though I am not working as a journalist now, I really love what I do now. For me, it is really not like working. It is like having fun. Sometimes I have to pretend that I am serious. If everyone works on something they really like, and they get some joy out of it, they don’t feel like working, they have fun because it is easy and they don’t worry too much about money.
Q: When you were studying, did you and your friends take professional guidance or career counseling? Were there sufficient options, and how was your experience?
A: When I was at school, the last three years, we went to a counselor to help us identify what we could do in college. It wasn’t really of much help. I was only told that I was good in communication, so try something in that field. It was very difficult to choose with only that announcement, that I was good in communication. I ended up taking social communication classes, not sure if it is because of what the counselor told me or because I wanted it at that time. I think the best advice you can get is from people who are already working in that field. You have to like a field; you know when you do. Then you reach out to people working in that field who tell you about the job, money and opportunities which will help you decide.
From what Evana says, it is evident that the situation is pretty much similar even in western countries. Clueless students, random education choices and career switches are everywhere. Very few students know what they want to become and what they should do to get there. All the others need guidance, but the problem is that customized and unbiased guidance is rare. That is the problem we are striving to solve. Stay tuned for more such interviews. If you have had similar experiences that you would like to share with everyone, let us know in the comments below.
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