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How are students planning their future?

To answer that question, Moneycontrol interviewed seven young students after the coronavirus pandemic upset exam schedules and hobbled job prospects. Here are their accounts.

July 27, 2020 / 02:17 PM IST

Since April 2020, COVID-19 has been rewriting the career paths and destinies of thousands of students across India.

Final-year college students are concerned as exams have been made mandatory by the University Grants Commission, irrespective of the rising number of COVID cases in the country. Stories of prospective employers revoking job offers, and overseas education plans getting scuttled are being heard from all over.

While some students have alternate plans, several don't. Moneycontrol brings you seven such accounts.

Madhumita Naskar, West Bengal

For 19-year-old Madhumita Naskar, 2020 has been the worst year. She couldn’t appear for her Class XII state board examinations because of her mother’s death. The post-death proceedings took two weeks.

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Her father is the only earning member in the family of seven, including her three younger brothers and grandparents. She can take a re-test only in 2021, and she is hoping to save some money for her higher education. Naskar is now seeking a part-time job. However, she has not been lucky so far. Even BPO jobs require 24/7, stable internet connectivity, which is tough in her area. Her ambition is to become a history professor. Naskar is now in talks with a few social service groups for financial aid.

Pradeep Rao, Maharashtra

Fifteen-year-old Pradeep Rao’s father was to be transferred to Switzerland by his bank. However, the Coronavirus outbreak postponed the decision by six months.

Pradeep was keen to study at Brilliantmont International School in Lausanne, Switzerland, from his ninth grade. His father had also informally told Pradeep’s principal at the international school in Mumbai about this shift. The original plan was that Pradeep would complete his education in this school and then pursue a hotel management programme at either Les Roches International School of Hotel Management or Glion Institute of Higher Education.

Now that the entire family’s plans have gone haywire, he has to continue in his current school. His hotel management career plans, however, are still alive.

Subham Satpathy, Odisha

Since he fell sick during his Class XII board examination and missed his Physics paper, 18-year-old Subham Satpathy has to repeat a year. The compartment exam dates are not yet announced and Satpathy’s anxiety levels are high.

The only child to doctor-parents in Bhubaneswar, Satpathy was eyeing a medical degree and had started preparing for NEET 2020. He is now looking to pursue some free online courses and wait to clear his Physics paper. What if he doesn’t get through NEET even in 2021? Satpathy said that he will be open to branching out and looking for a pharmacy programme. He is firm that his profession has to be connected with what his parents do.

Blessie Sequiera, Karnataka

Twenty-one-year-old Blessie Sequiera from Mangaluru is enrolled for a technology course with a Hubei (China)-based educational institute. She completed just a few months in the programme in January 2020. She came home during the Chinese New Year break. Soon after, the Coronavirus outbreak occurred and she was forced to stay back. It has been more than six months and she has been unable to go back even as her institute reopened physical classes in batches in June 2020.

The June stand-off between India and China at Galwan Valley, where 20 Indian soldiers were killed, made her family even more worried. Sequiera’s family now wants her to drop out of the programme but she is worried about her academic future. Well-versed in Mandarin, Sequiera was keen to take up a research position in China after her education.

Prerna Nath, Jharkhand

Ranchi’s Prerna Nath had secured admission in a UK-based research institute on the basis of her doctoral programme performance in radiology. But her PhD mentor in her university in Jharkhand has contracted Coronavirus and her future looks uncertain.

Nath has already received three e-mails from the UK institute, seeking an update on her doctoral degree and her probable joining date. She was hoping that the university would be able to assign another mentor but owing to the lockdown, communication with the authorities has been tough. If she loses out on the UK opportunity, her plan is to join a social impact project on water management in Ranchi for a year and then try again in 2021.

Rehan Patel, Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal’s 21-year-old Rehan Patel had fought with his parents in 2019 to come to Mumbai. He had then hoped to pursue a screenplay writing programme in FTII, Pune, but was unable to get through. Instead of going back home, he stayed back in the hope of getting writing assignments in some small projects or short films.

Though nothing working out, Patel stayed back and searched for freelance jobs. He was also pursuing a six-month online writing course that promised a 'guaranteed placement'. The course cost almost Rs 30,000. But COVID-19 dashed Patel’s hopes.

The online institute halted placements since nobody was willing to risk giving new projects to freshers. After he missed two months’ rent in March and April, in May 2020, Patel went back home and joined his family’s insurance advisory business.

Samar Jain, Tamil Nadu

Twenty-year-old Samar Jain was originally supposed to join his father’s jewellery business in Madurai. He was to complete his B.Com degree this year, but the exams were postponed. He is now wondering when he will get his degree. Jain’s father has a few other businesses like food storage units and wholesale grocery supply. Soon after, Coronavirus hit and a lockdown was announced from March 25.

Now, the jewellery business is almost down to zero. Jain’s father used to tie up with wedding planners to design and supply wedding jewellery for North Indian brides but that has also come to a standstill. Jain’s Plan B is to pursue a management programme from the United States as he is not keen to manage the grocery supply unit.

M Saraswathy
M Saraswathy
first published: Jul 21, 2020 06:01 pm