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Career Advice: Passion vs. Money

My answer to: As a fresh engineering graduate, what should I look for in my career choice: passion or money? (For the detailed situation of the person asking the question, visit the link here.)

In early 2013, I was in the final year of an engineering course in one of the best engineering colleges of India. I had a high CAT score and hence, interview opportunities with some of the best B-schools in the country, including the IIMs. For the four years of my graduation, I had been the editor of a well-known satire website. As a result, I had developed an inclination towards aspects of editing and journalism. I did not like my engineering course any more.

Right now, I am a Fellow with Teach For India, and am left with just over a year of this Fellowship. I am highly satisfied with my work, happy and proud of my organization, and feel a part of a movement.

Overall, my background is similar to yours (no interest in engineering, work in online journalism, chance for MBA, inclination towards journalism), and your short-term goal may be something similar to where I am right now (satisfaction with work). You face the same obstacles I faced (opportunity of making money, MBA skill set without much interest in the degree itself). Although I am not yet at where my long-term goal would want me to be, I could provide some inputs to your queries.

  • MBA just after graduation: I do not personally believe in this. Very few fresh graduates have an idea of the workforce and corporate environment. Unless you have worked for some time in the workforce, you do not have any significant or specific goals for yourself, except a respected and potentially-money-minting degree. Going for an MBA just after a non-BBA bachelor’s degree is more like “going with the herd”. If you go for an MBA, there should be something specific you want to achieve out of those two years, which you can realize only by working for some time. If that personalized goal doesn’t exist, you will end up studying for two years without a context to your studies. People may disagree, and there are several people who choose to go for an MBA immediately after bachelor’s, and they have my full respect, because they may have that context. What I said applies to the general masses. It may not apply to you, but since you said that you’re interested in it only for MBA, I’d suggest yours is not yet the stage of life to be led primarily meant to mint money. That stage comes after you’ve explored everything of your choice.
  • Journalism: I think, if you are very satisfied and confident about the choice of journalism, you could go through a one-year diploma course which could give you a starting eligibility and targeted skill-set for professional journalism. Successful online writing and editing may be a valuable experience to start with, but may not always be enough to prove competence in mainstream journalism. However, that experience, coupled with a diploma, could well save one year, and be enough to start off with something that interests you. The task, for now, is to make sure that journalism is something you want to end up in. You do not want to go through a full-fledged two-year course in journalism, and then decide that actual journalism isn’t as rosy and attractive as what you felt while working online. I mean, it’s okay if you do the two years, but having already exhausted four years into doing something you ended up not liking, two years may not be what you want to devote and want to get settled urgently; it’s perfectly okay if you think otherwise. You can follow up your journalism course with an MBA, to enhance your employability in journalism.
  • IT job: If you do not like the field, don’t go there. Simple. There should be no debate on that, because even people who like the field end up dissatisfied with the corporate culture. You’d be better off following your passion and devoting your time to learning and exploring other things.

All this said, the Indian perspective of career has other worrying and often significant parameters: family and financial conditions. About this, I do not know anything about you. Since you’ve not mentioned these, I’d choose to believe these parameters don’t matter much for your context, which should make your choice even easier.

I am still just 22 and exploring; not yet old enough to be an expert on career advice. These are my opinions from what I feel would be the best had I been in your place. Exercise your discretion, and all the best!

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