Necessity of Preparing Students for Careers

Initially, I was thinking of writing my final blog post geared towards the necessity of training students who wish to pursue an academic path, which would be related to us, but to be honest, preparation for intended careers is something that is dear even to students intending to pursue an industrial role ahead in their life. So, one of the things that I think should be adopted at universities is not just the dissemination of knowledge aspect, but equal focus should also be given to the aspect of the application of knowledge and facing challenges in the desired career paths. My blog post is not directed only towards Ph.D. students but also undergraduates just jumping ship from academia.

These challenges could be varying and might not be solely related to the field the students study in. But they may be things that a person needs to face in a specific role. Now I am not saying you can train people for every possible scenario that life throws at them. My point is the implementation of a policy in such a way that at least an individual just transitioning from the student phase will not be taken by surprise due to things he never expected at orientation. Speaking from the perspective of a student entering the industry, these might be things like office pressure, deadlines, coordinated tasks, etc. that they might have to adjust immediately but no one speaks during the interview or orientation processes. Speaking from the perspective of a student wishing to enter academia, these might be things like setting up a lab, inviting and selecting graduate research students, setting up and coordinating lab-related accounts with an accounts person from the department/college. Personally, I feel there is some kind of disconnect related to these things that cause students to struggle initially in their intended career paths.

My suggestion is the implementation of this in a manner so that students get to know more about their job roles and responsibilities beyond the things that are jotted down in black and white. This could be done by invited industry spokesperson talks where they not only speak about the companies and their daily work but are also open to informally discussing with the students about things like office pressure and frequency of deadlines. Similarly, future academicians need to be able to speak with an experienced person about things like setting up a lab. This needs to be done as honestly, gone are the days when good grades meant good jobs and good research meant good academicians. It might sound like I am ranting and some of these things might not be applicable in our specific department or our university as a whole but I am thinking on the lines of what students in various parts of the world might be facing. This is the reason I have heard many people complain that industry works in a different manner than academia and this is not just related to technical stuff but work related to owning up a project, project management, etc. that they were not prepared for. Some who can sail through it are good to go but others sometimes do struggle which is something that we can hope to avoid.