“If you’re okay with a small house, a small car and a tough-struggle, go ahead — become a writer,” is what her father told her, almost as a warning, when she declared she wanted to take up arts in class 11. Yet, today, this 19-year-old, studying chemical engineering at a renowned institute in Mumbai, is working as an intern in a national newspaper.
Who says engineers can do just engineering? Today, all over the country engineering students are reviving their long-lost passions and interests, be it journalism, theatre, music, dance or any field. Not only are they pursuing them with enthusiasm, they are seen excelling and sometimes even outdoing their colleagues. “Engineering develops excellent analytical ability and out of the box thinking, which comes with the multilateral and dynamic learning from the core subjects,” says Suyog Jain, a 48-year-old parent and head of a Chandigarh based pharmaceutical company.
It would be a cliché to exemplify Chetan Bhagat, so we spoke to young engineers from the city who have branched out from their chosen profession to other fields. “We stood first in a street play competition in Jhankaar youth festival at PU, third in a stage play contest at the Waves fest at BITS, Pilani and have participated in almost all major drama competitions,” says Karan Chaudhary, 19, a student of PU’s University Institute of Engineering & Technology (UIET), who is also an active member of a theatre group, Osmium. “My father thought it was too big a risk to take up theatre as a career option so I opted for engineering, which always seems to be in vogue,” he smiles.
The Indian education system, as yet, does not provide the option of switching subjects or career lines easily. With society’s prevalent mentality, parents say, engineering, medicine and business administration are glorified far too much, leaving little room for a student to make other choices.
Be it the monetary factor or the stature that comes along with a prestigious job, career options are still bound by preconceived notions. Engineering students, however, seem to look above this wall and follow what their hearts say. A management course after a four-year BTech degree would come across as no surprise today, but students are seen taking up photography, music, dance and other pursuits as seriously as their main line.
Bhavneet Bhatia, a 19-yearold student of PU’s University Institute of Chemical Engineering & Technology (UICET), tells us how she had to drop fine arts in class 11 because there were very limited options that followed. She won the “outstanding achievement” award of the UT administration in 2008 for her excellent art work and was also the “art star” at her school in Chandigarh. “Though the pay offered is extremely low, jobs after earning a fine arts degree will always be a challenge,” she says, adding “I still participate in all art competitions in the city and have received lots of recognition for it.”
Ishjiv Sethi, studying in Thapar University, Patiala, says: “My indispensable love for football and hasn’t changed even slightly after college happened. Engineering has its own place but it can’t replace my passion.”
Doing what you love will be the only thing you’ll excel in! With a wide range of opportunities, students should pick their flavours from the platter and relish their dreams. Call it the “three idiots” effect or the rebellion of the coming generation — the youth know what they want and are ready to slog for it.