Q I have completed MBA this year but I have always wanted to make my career in an area which involves creativity. I have written a number of poems both in Hindi and English. How can I enhance my creative skills? Are there courses for creative writing?
— Dinesh Arora, Ambala City
A Writers may write in a burst of inspiration — but even the best of writers are concerned with technique, of how to achieve the desired effect.
And contrary to all that spiel about "born" writers, I'm firmly convinced that writing is a craft that can be learnt. Once you have grasped the fundamentals of plot, structure, character, voice, dialogue, and description, you will be on a surer footing.
And for this, a course in creative writing would be useful.
Creative writing covers all areas of non-journalistic and technical writing. It is a broad term that covers the following genres: fiction writing, non-fiction writing, screenwriting, scriptwriting, memoir writing, novel writing, poetry writing, playwriting, children's books, TV serial writing, humour writing, mystery writing, romance writing, writing lyrics, science fiction writing, travel writing, feature writing, writing book reviews, interviews, film or art criticism and business communication.
You could choose from any of the following courses through distance learning:
These courses are fairly reasonably priced (Rs 1,300-2000) and can be pursued at your own pace.
Dive into world of marine engineering
Q I have cleared my Class X exam from the CBSE with 64 per cent marks. I wish to become a marine engineer. Could you please tell me about the institutions offering courses in the field?
— Tushar Verma
A Marine Engineering gives you an opportunity to see the world. Well-paying openings for Marine Engineers exist with foreign and domestic shipping companies, firms involved in ship design, survey, maintenance and research, engine and ship building companies, port and harbour departments, consultants and government bodies. They are also recruited as ship and shore engineers in the Indian Navy and the merchant navy (cargo as well as passenger).
Plus two with PCM is the eligibility for taking most of the marine engineering entrance exams.
Marine Engineering Research Institute (MERI) is one of the premier institutes offering courses in Marine Engineering.
T S Chanakya is affiliated to the University of Mumbai and offers a 3-year degree in Nautical Science.
Entrance to both institutes is through the IIT-JEE. For marine engineering, glasses up to power 2.5 are permitted but defective colour vision is a disqualification in both fields.
Here are some other courses in Marine Engineering:
You could also look at the related courses in naval architecture, ship-building, ocean engineering, oil technology, and petro-refining/technology which are offered by the following institutes (The list is not exhaustive):
Note: Do make sure that the course you opt for is approved by the Directorate General of Shipping (M/o Surface Transport, GoI), Jahaz Bhavan, Walchand Hirachand Marg, Ballard Estate, Mumbai-400038. (www.dgshipping.com). Also make sure you are not colour/night blind.
Q I have just come to know about the NAAC and NBA giving accreditation to educational institutions. What does their accreditation mean to a student?
— Hardeep S Chawla
A The National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an autonomous body formed under the UGC, whereas the National Board of Accreditation (NAB) is an autonomous body formed under AICTE. They are akin to the ISO, which certifies products or working of business organisations or factories at an international level.
These bodies assess and rank the quality of education imparted by institutions on an easily identifiable scale i.e. (1-5 in the case of NAAC where the highest ranking is 5) and A, B, C in case of the NAB where the highest rank is A).
These ratings would also clear the deck for India's signing the "Washington Accord" whereby specific degrees of all signatory countries would be treated as equivalent. All European and American countries would be signatories to this treaty.
The NAAC is also formulating a procedure for assessing and accrediting foreign universities wishing to offer their courses in India.
However, to date only 700 of the 16,000 colleges in India have been accredited by NAAC in the last eight years.
Good line for girls
Q I am doing MBA from Punjabi University. I want to know which of these areas is good for girls — HR, Marketing, Finance or International Business? Please guide.
— Madhu Kumari Sharma
A Whichever way you look at it, management is a tough and demanding profession, no matter what function you choose. Although HR is commonly considered a "soft" option, believe me, the reality is quite otherwise.
With changes in the business and employment scenario, students' preferences for electives and specialisations also change. But you can't go wrong if you choose one based on your interests and skills; not simply because one is less demanding or more popular at the moment.
It's undoubtedly better to excel in a field you enjoy than to be a third-rater in a "hot" field.
A recent study of managers in the US found that women managers, more than their male counterparts, tend to adopt leadership styles that encourage better worker performance and effectiveness. They are more likely to serve as role models, help mentor and empower workers, and encourage innovation. These are qualities that cut across all functional areas in management. So, if your head and heart is in the right place, you'll smooth-sail even in the toughest assignment.
Also, the workplace is getting increasingly competitive and demanding. While many organisations claim to work from nine to five, the reality, you'll soon discover, is that it's only your pink-collared colleagues like the receptionist and telephone operator who manage to leave on time. This does apply to the managerial staff, which is required to put in far longer hours — more like nine to nine (and at times, even weekends).
Moreover, don't expect exceptions to be made for you in any way simply because you are a woman — none will be. On the contrary, be prepared to work harder and smarter than your male colleagues. Intimidating? No. Challenging? Certainly.
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