I was invited to speak at youth event Internshala. It brought together graduation-course students from all over the country interning in Delhi with companies, educational institutions and non-government organisations (NGOs).
One of the many activities was Intern Saturday, which they spent together listening and interacting with speakers from disciplines such as career counselling, creative arts, technology, entrepreneurship, soft skills and more. Thinking for this event and knowing I was going to address youth anxious to make a good career as fast as possible with all the given insecurities, I decided instinctively to reach out to them with probing questions instead of making a one-way speech. Youth have limited attention span, so why not make it a hands-on workshop.
I asked the organisers to ensure that all students in the audience carried notebooks for I have something to ask them, which they will need to write down and refer to it even after they go home and get on with life. I listed out the questions and subtly sent out the message of their larger relevance, which they will be keen to probe.
I opened by revealing my plan, and told them to write what I asked, and answer for themselves. The questions were about the key qualities their prospective employers would expect of them at work. The questions I asked I share will all young people. I aim is to "know yourself".
Here are the questions I revealed one by one, asking them to leave space to fill in the answers. I urged them to be truthful, as it was for their own self and not scoring any marks.
1) Do you do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of self periodically?
2) What are your values concerning, family, personal relationships, money, friends, and eating habits (I asked how much they ate when the food was free but there were not hungry)?
3) Do you have a conscience alarm? Are you aware of this concept or do you think a clock is only an external object for help in waking up at an appointed time?
4) What are your hobbies? How often you return to these?
5) What kind of activity comes naturally to you, which you love doing without being reminded?
6) Do you read? How much and what material? Books? Magazines? Newspapers? What do you like reading in the papers? Do you read editorials?
7) Do you like watching movies? If so, which kind?
8) What kind of music you prefer listening to? Loud, rap, soft, or spiritual?
9) Are you member of any spiritual congregation, or do you think it's too early to even consider it?
10) Do you have a spiritual master or a guide?
11) Do you play any outdoor sport?
12) Who are your role models?
13) Do you think you write your destiny?
14) What are your fears?
They all took their time writing. I explained to them the right answer to each question would be their making. You go to the career as who you are genuinely. If you put up a face, it shows sometimes, and then you lose it at work or in personal life.
I told them about the key things that future employers would be looking for: Are you self-driven or do have to be reminded (Happens a lot in secure government jobs)? Do you have a burning desire to succeed, not by hook or by crook but by right means? Do you have the ability to recover from failure; do you give up easily or do you persevere (it will depend on how do you define failure)? Are you arrogant or are you willing to learn? Do you imagine yourself playing a larger role in society? What is your ability to deal with change?
This interaction was engaging. I found each of them truly curious and absorbed. It was followed by a question-answer session.
One of the questions that got me concerned about youth was: "Ma'am, when do we know we are doing the right thing?" I felt sorry for the guy who had got into college without getting his "conscience clock" fitted from his upbringing, education or social leadership. I told him: "Follow your inner voice of basic right and wrong; it does not require rocket science to do."
But who continues this nourishment? Who is responsible first for the deficiency?
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org