The title of the talk the organizers had sent me was - "Exploring opportunities beyond restrictions".
Why did you choose this title?, I enquired with the young lady who was coordinating the two day youth programme for which I was invited to talk on this subject.
Most of these youth are first generation rural under graduates or post-graduates from their families. They are stuck within a small experienced world, they are not looking for opportunities beyond their limited exposure. We want them to think and be able to travel somewhere else to pursue better career. Pondichery is not a great place for finding well paid career for them. - that was the summary of her response.
I was quite surprised that an NGO actually wants the students to quit and leave their place in pursuit of career. But majority of the ''career guidance'' NGOs are in this rut. Similar to ''career counselling'' academics, they think the best jobs are found far away from wherever the students are and the students should go elsewhere in pursuit of better careers.
So I decided to skip my prepared presentation and instead interact with them in Tamil and see how they responded. I spoke to them about what kind of jobs they sought? Many of them said that they wanted to good salary and they were eager to find such jobs. One student who had already completed her degree in microbiology was pursuing her career as programme coordinator for civil society organizations. I asked her what can she offer to the organization that will hire her and she rattled out her prepared skills listing. hmmm.... that was a good beginning. So, i asked her whether there are anyone whom she knows who can have the same skills better than her? she of course knew others. They i asked her what else could she offer to the organization? she did not have a response.
At this point I told the students that unless they are able to be part of a solution, they are dispensable for any organization. When I asked them about the jobs lost during the pandemic lockdown, they all understood who was dispensable and who was dispensable to a given economy and industry.
We proceeded to discuss how to become indispensable and what were the pressing problems in society today....
The pressing problems that the youth identified were -
1. Education system
2. Climate Change
6. Farmer distress
7. Food Security
It was a good hour and half of interaction with the youth. My presentation is available here as well.
Interesting questions from the students --
1. How to become indispensable in our career?
2. If we solve a global problem, will it help our career?
3. Education system - it is so hard to make even small changes, how do we survive?
-- Ram, 27/01/2024
p.s.: getting the AI Microsoft Design to come up with high speed images for the presentation was an interesting experiment, though I did not eventually use these images, it did help me to understand how this algorithm works and where are its fault lines.