Career guidance is emerging as a full-fledged science – Rising Kashmir

Post by on Monday, May 30, 2022
Prof. Geer Mohammad Ishaq has been working as a Professor of Pharmacology at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kashmir over the last twenty years. At present he holds the additional charge of Director, Centre for Career Planning and Counselling (CCPC), University of Kashmir.
Having vast experience in the field of Pharmaceutical Sciences, he has published 51 research papers and presented 46 papers in various national and international conferences. Recently he has been appointed as Adviser to the Price Monitoring and Resource Unit (PMRU) of the Drug and Food Control Organization, J&K with due approval of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) of India and has also been appointed as a Member of the PG Curriculum Committee of the Pharmacy Council of India, New Delhi.
In conversation with Rising Kashmir’s feature writer Insha Latief Khan, Professor Geer talks about the career counseling, placements and various coaching programs that are being offered by the CCPC.
What is the role of Centre for Career Planning and Counselling in guiding the students of Kashmir?
The Center was established with the motive of career counseling, placements and campus recruitments, coaching for various competitive examinations like IAS, JKAS, NET, JRF, NEET, JEE, banking services and other competitive examinations. Students for various national level examinations conducted by UPSC are also being trained here. Every year we offer coaching programs for various examinations not only for the registered students of University of Kashmir but also for such potential candidates, particularly from socially and economically weaker sections, who desire to crack various competitive examinations. Very recently, many students have qualified the prelims of JKAS examination and NEET exams.
Another mandate of the Center is campus recruitments and placement. The students who pass out from the university every year are guided in placements with a view to facilitate them. The aim is to create more and more opportunities for the students and link up with the corporates and call them for campus recruitment drives.
The center offers career counseling as well. In career counseling, the students get proper guidance for career development so that they are able to make right choices in their career and are able to make right choices for their jobs as well.
The students have to pay a hefty fee for coaching in various examinations. How far is this center better than those coaching centers?
We are offering a free of cost IAS training program at present. This is a fully funded program from the Central Wakf Council. The students are not only getting trained but course material is also being provided to them free of cost. Total strength is 50 students. Some students didn’t turn up after finishing their online classes but those who are coming are getting full support under this program. We get resource persons from outside J&K and from within the university as well. Our university has renowned professors and we are occasionally taking their services as well. 
Very soon we are going to start NET JRF coaching as well but unfortunately the response is low so we are extending the date. The NET JRF examination wasn’t conducted last year so this year, UGC is clubbing two sessions of December last year and June this year. It will be a crash course and we charge a very nominal fee for it. Private coaching centres are quite expensive but we offer coaching with a very nominal charge. We don’t make money out of it. Our intention is that students don’t have to spend much.
We also want to run another IAS batch that will be on payment basis where nominal fee will be charged on a no-profit-no-loss basis from the students. The coaching programs are open for all the students across Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. We usually select students on a first-come-first-serve basis. If we get a huge number of students for coaching programs, then an entrance test is conducted by the Directorate of Admissions of the University where top 50 students are selected on merit basis.
How has the placement been so far?
The placement has improved a lot. Recently we had campus recruitments by Serv Staffing and TATA Advanced System Limited (TASL) Hyderabad that recruited mechanical engineers from here. Extramarks Group also recruited students. Indus Towers, the biggest company of tele-communication towers in India, wanted electrical and electronics engineers and we are in touch with them. The students have been shortlisted and they have faced the written test too. Now they will be coming for campus recruitment. Similarly with Reliance, we are in touch. They are opening a retail chain of stores. There are also some software companies like Techarc and Girnar. They also want computer software engineers and we are also negotiating with them.
Also with Bangalore-based companies like Quintiles, Infosys, Metrocorp, Wipro etc correspondence for campus recruitment is going on at present. Last year IQVIA had recruited 20-25 students as drug safety associates. It was work from home so they were provided laptops as well. Their contract was completed in October last year. Also a few statistics students were recruited by them. We are negotiating with them that they should recruit another batch this year. We will also invite more corporate houses so that more students are recruited in future.
What are  the stages that a student has to go through in the recruitment process?
There are multiple stages in the recruitment process. First we issue a circular for students to apply, then the first level shortlisting of students is done by us and than the second level shortlisting is done by the company depending upon the qualifications, merit, experience and other criteria set by the company. After that, the written test is conducted and again students are shortlisted. Later,the students have to attend a presentation which is called pre-placement talk and than group discussion takes place and finally personal interviews are conducted. This whole process is completed within 25 to 30 days.
Does the center impart skill oriented programs as well?
We have an MOU with Tata consultancy services (TCS) under which there are 5-6 programs going on. The main program for engineering graduates is a skill-oriented program where communications skills are developed. I have seen that students have good marks, their credentials are high but they lack soft skills like interpersonal skills, communications skills, IT proficiency, quantitative aptitude and life skills. The training in these areas is direly needed by the students. Experts from TATA consultancy services provide training to students online on weekends absolutely free of cost.
Very soon we are going to launch another program with them for non-engineering graduates where they have kept the provision for 2000 students. In this program they will be training students in foundational skills which students lack because they are not a part of their curriculum.
We also have an MoU with TASL and another one with Deep Minds Private Ltd. The MoU with TCS has other programs like adult literacy programme where uneducated adults are given free education and another is Entrepreneurship Development Programme for Tourism. Another one is the Youth Empowerment Program where skills are being provided to engineering and non-engineering students.
We keep on signing MOUs and collaborating with corporates and reputed companies for the benefit of our students.
How important is career counseling for the students?  
In every department of the university, one career counselor has been nominated so there are 66 certified career counselors from various departments and centers of the university who have been trained. We have got them trained through Mindler which has a tie up with an American based organization. The TASL team also conducted two basic workshops in physical mode. This year they are again coming for an advanced workshop.  The mandate of career counselors is to guide the students and counsel them whenever needed. Based on their capabilities, merit and other qualities, career counselors guide them. If a student is skill oriented, creative and analytical, we tell him to join industries so that he can innovate and create something new. We give students options and facilitate them in making a better career choice.
As career counseling is an emerging subject, what more can be offered in this field?
We are thinking of offering a course in career planning and development. PG Diploma course, certificate course and short term courses can be offered in this field. Career guidance is emerging as a full-fledged science. It is not limited to just making a career choice. There are so many things involved like psychology, personality traits, psychosocial theories and many things which can influence the career choice of a student. We need to study these things. How the psychosocial development and the interests, atmosphere, value system and morals, ethics, mindset of a student influence his career choice has to be studied well because career guidance starts right from the time when a person is born. 
The atmosphere and ambience in which he grows helps his personality to develop that ultimately influences his career choice. This process continues throughout one’s life and sometimes it continues even beyond the retirement of a person. Some people after retirement start a new career as they have skills and interests which are suitable for private companies. So career guidance doesn’t start when a student passes his 10th or 12 class examinations. It is a lifelong process and self-actualization helps in realizing his full potential.  Some students don’t know what kind of capabilities they can have to excel in their field.
In our society, we pressurize students to become doctors or engineers. We don’t see the student’s interests and inclinations. There are psychometric tools and instruments where we can check the abilities, interests and personality traits of a student. We need to study the tools and propagate them.  In our center we have good infrastructure so we need to utilize it to its fullest and offer courses for students as well as teachers.
There are various programs for students across the world. Does the center inform the students about scholarships, internships and fellowships?
We have created some platforms on social media like Facebook where we upload details about scholarships, internships and fellowships within and outside India so that students can easily apply. The students don’t have to spend their own money. There are foreign universities who bear all the expenses of students including their tuition fee, airfare, accommodation, food, mess charges and sometimes even medical insurance. As a result of the pandemic, many foreign universities are nowadays offering more and more scholarships. The information should reach the students and they should know the time when they have to apply. The information is updated daily on the official pages of social media handles so that students can avail these opportunities and get exposed to the outside environment and learn. Then the students can come back and serve the society to the best of their abilities.
How much workshops and seminars help a student?
Conferences, workshops, seminars and webinars are conducted regularly by our Centre so that students can get inspired and motivated. We get motivational speakers to boost the morale of students. Mentoring session was also held last week at Gandhi Bhawan where passouts of Oxford and Brooks University mentored the students about various opportunities for higher studies in UK-based Universities. Motivational and mentoring sessions are very important. We also invite IAS officers so that IAS and JKAS aspirants can know how to plan, strategize and prepare for civil services examinations.
What will be your message for students?
Students should work hard on their skills, competencies and abilities. They don’t have to stick to their curriculum and syllabus alone but also need to develop their skills. Some companies offloaded employees due to covid pandemic and reduced their workforce. Simultaneously at some places like online business platforms and e-commerce services, there is a huge demand. Students have to see where the demand lies and what skills are required to survive in the industry. The general pattern that I have observed is that every corporate or industry is ready to recruit the skillful students. The students should upgrade their skills which have demand in the global job markets.
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