Office Mantra
And the winner is... Attitude
Do you ‘work to live’ or do you ‘live to work’? The response may pretty much define your success at the workplace
R.C. Sharma

RAKESH, an MBA student, had passed out from a reputed university in 2001. The company placement trend was just gaining popularity. Having cleared the technical rounds, Rakesh was to face the personal interview. While the major part of the interview was smooth sailing, the final question was something Rakesh will never forget. He was asked the similarity between a lady and a handkerchief. Thinking it to be a joke, Rakesh simply smiled. He then thought the question over over and gave the first reply that came to his mind. He cleared the personal interview but never really understood why he was asked the question in the first place.

Currently, Rakesh is a personnel manager in a leading MNC. He often visits campuses to recruit MBA students. During these visits, he remembers the true implication of the question posed to him years ago. The interviewer was looking not for the right answer but the right attitude.

A candidate’s ability to handle unexpected situations and comfort level in tackling these is what is tested in personal interviews. Methods may vary, what Rakesh went through was just one. Attitude is the mindset and manner of conducting oneself.

Although there are no proven steps that can help attain the right attitude, in the matter of recruitment, there are certain pertinent rules for success.

Be a learner

AS a fresher, it always pays if one is seeking self-enrichment through constant learning. Completing one’s formal education does not mean the end of learning. As renowned thinker and writer Bernard Shaw said: “One is a learner throughout life.” However, learning is of paramount importance in the early stages of ones career.

One should be inquisitive about choosing a stream and know and keep in mind the broad perspective of the industry. Being a good listener is mandatory to become a good learner. Every interview — sucesful or not — like every job, provides ample learning opportunities.

Be bold & confident

FRANKLY admit your mistakes and weaknesses but be bold and confident in highlighting your strengths and achievements. For instance, many would feel shy in saying, “I am one of the excellent personnel managers,” when they have immense achievements to their credit in support of their statement. Being bold may also mean saying, “I don’t know, sir,” when you are not sure about the correct answer of a question posed by the interviewer.

Another important, rather key, aspect that interviewers observe while interviewing candidates is whether they fit into the company culture. Alth-ough, this is a result of years of learning and experience and available on the company’s website, it is in your own interest to fit into the organisational values and culture. Sooner the better. Various factors, such as the way you dress, walk and talk with others, strengthen your fitness for an organisation.

Don’t fear failure

IT is likely that you would get your first job only after a number of attempts. Therefore, do not look at past attempts as failures, but as stepping-stones to success. Failures enrich you; think of them as learning experiences and be better prepared for the next interview. Interview success depends on meeting the interviewer’s expectations. An interview is your chance to strike a relationship with the interviewer and, through him, with the company. Hence, understand the interviewer as much as he is trying to understand you.

Finally, remember that most organisations hire for attitude and train for talent. So, ascertain that you are keen to join the organisations for the right reasons. Try to observe the interviewer and the values he seeks in a candidate. Explain and justify how your own values and expectations match the company’s: each one has his own answer and every one of those answers would be right in their own way. Definitely, the attitude has an edge over the right answer.

Optimism is the key

A POSITIVE and optimistic attitude paves the way for opportunities at every step. Do not worry about the consequences of failure; instead, learn from it. While applying for any job or attending an interview, bury the past failures and remember only the achievements. Companies are constantly on the lookout for people who bring in dynamism, enthusiasm, energy and honesty. Being a team player is vital in any job and most employers realise that one energetic member is a strong link in the chain and a morale and mood booster for others. Hence, make the best use of qualities of positivism, cheerfulness and leadership.



Playing safe
Grads from elite UK varsities choose safer jobs
despite lower salaries
Richard Garner

THE global economic crisis has led hundreds of elite graduates to eschew careers in finance in favour of lower-paid but “safer” jobs such as math. Given the high level of debt currently being accrued by students because of fees, the news that their job prospects will be diminished owing to the economic downturn will be extremely worrying for those who are prepared to graduate in 2009.

Far fewer students are turning up to city and financial job fairs held as part of the annual university “milk rounds” to help graduates find jobs when they leave. At Warwick University, for example, the number of students attending its city and finance fair just before Christmas was 1,425, down from 1,988 the year before. At Oxford, the head of the university’s careers service, Jonathan Black, reported a “10 to 15 per cent” fall in attendance. Cambridge, too, saw turnout drop by 14 per cent from 998 last year to 866 n and hits on its website for city and finance sector jobs fell by 18 per cent.

Gordon Chesterman, the head of the university’s careers service, said: “Students are becoming suspicious of the sector. By the time they returned in early October, they had heard war stories from their chums who had had internships in the sector and not been offered jobs. They had also read headlines in the press about 120,000 white-collar jobs going in the finance sector and thought, ‘I’ve got my suspicions’.”

Instead, young people are increasingly opting for careers seen as “safer” such as teaching, the civil service and law. Teach First, a scheme which recruits high-achieving graduates to work in deprived schools, saw more than 2,000 students applying for its 450 places by the end of the year. “Recruitment normally ends in the spring,” said a spokeswoman. “In 2007, we had 2,000 applicants by then n but in 2008 we had reached that figure by the end of the year.” Other winners in the recruitment stakes at Cambridge include a math teaching post in a private school in London, which attracted 154 expressions of interest this year, compared to 75 the previous academic year, and a technician post at the BBC which saw a 200 per cent increase in applications.

The fall-off in demand for finance sector jobs comes as the country’s top investment banks have whittled down the number of “milk rounds” they attend at universities to just a handful of the top research institutions.

It could be quality, not quantity, that the banks are seeking. Warwick, one of six universities still on most investment banks’ hit-lists, recorded an increase in the number of financial institutions attending its fair this year from 61 to 68. “They appear to be focusing specifically on where they think they will be able to recruit the brightest recruits,” said a university spokesman. “They find that in a downturn, more than at any other time, they need the brightest students to keep abreast of things.”

Other institutions still in the loop for recruitment include Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics, Imperial College London and University College London. However, the move by investment banks to cut back on the university job fairs they attend provoked an angry response from representatives of the UK’s newer universities.

— The Independent



Course chat
Global healthcare
Take a course & hop aboard the medical tourism bandwagon. Here is how
S.C. Dhall

WITH a view to create a corps of professionals to attract foreign patients to get treated at Indian hospitals, the Institute Of Clinical Research India (ICRI) will now offer full and part time MBA programmes in medical tourism and healthcare management across its six campuses in the country.

Hospitals on the world medical tourism map cannot do without patient relation managers – qualified professionals who can understand the needs of people from other countries, their food habits, language and their comfort needs. The institute has tied up with the Government of Singapore for help in designing the curriculum, training its faculty and teaching some modules to begin with. The institute has also entered into an arrangement with the Academy of Hospital Administration, which ahs a membership base of 750 hospitals in the country, to train students.

According to an institute spokesperson, the main reason for partnering with Singapore was that it attracts 90,000 patients from all over the world annually. According to institute officials, the total investment for expansion would be around Rs 18-20 crore.

Currently, individuals with a background in medicine double as guest relations officers, but as the numbers grow, a separate pool of people would be required to man those positions, added the spokesperson.

As of now, no institute is offering a similar course in India and hospitals have been dealing with visitors from abroad with in-house resources and training in Apollo Hospital. Apollo, Delhi, has been getting over 4,000 overseas patients a year and for the last two years and the numbers are likely to grow at 15 to 20 per cent annually.

India is fast emerging as a force to reckon with on the medical tourism map, especially for cosmetic and dental procedures and knee transplant that cost much lesser even at the best hospitals here.

Growth story

WITH medical tourism in the country expected to grow over 25 per cent annually till 2012, the demand for talent is going up at a brisk pace. A joint study by McKinsey and the Confederation of Indian Industry estimates the medical tourism industry will be worth $ 1 billion by 2012. Estimates suggest a demand of 5,000-10,000 professionals in this segment in the next three to five years. These include international marketing professionals, patient relation managers and back office employees.



Thumbs up for Indian education
Maitreyee Boruah

EVEN AS a large number of Indians spend millions of rupees every year to pursue higher education in the United States, India’s school education has inspired a documentary by an American businessman who believes it is superior to that of his country.

“The film clearly indicates that Indian and Chinese education systems are better than American. In the 21st century, India and China are providing better education to their children than the US,” contends Robert A. Compton, a venture capitalist, who is executive producer of the documentary.

Titled “Two Million Minutes”, the 187-minute documentary was screened in Bangalore recently, the first screening in India. The documentary has been screened over 50 times in the US, including at Harvard Law School, in the last one year and has received a mixed reaction. The documentary features six high school students — two each from India, China and the US — talking about the kind of education available back home.

“Regardless of nationality, as soon as a student completes the eighth grade, they have approximately four years or two million minutes to prepare for college and ultimately a career. Thus, high school is a crucial period in shaping the life of a student,” Compton told the media at the screening. The film examines through these students the kind of education they are getting in their respective countries and how it will further shape the economy of their country in the 21st century, he added.

“The film which we have been screening in the US has generated a public debate across America. The film clearly shows that higher education system in India and China is well ahead of the US in preparing highly competitive and skilled people, compared to the US,” Compton said. Bangalore was chosen for the India launch of the DVD as the documentary features two students from the city — Rohit Sridharan and Apoorva Uppala from St. Paul’s English School.

The documentary chronicles the students’ daily lives, with them giving an account of how they prioritise their time, what they learn and how well prepared they are to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.

Compared to the US, China now produces eight times more scientists and engineers, while India puts out up to three times as many as the US. Asked if an account of the daily life of three high school boys and three girls was enough to judge the three education systems, Compton said these students were selected on the basis of performance in both academics and extra-curricular activities. — IANS



Career Hotline
Weigh the pros & cons
Pervin Malhotra

Q. Both my parents are doctors so it was always taken for granted that I would also follow in their footsteps. I like the idea of doing medicine because I know what is entailed, but on the other hand, I have not explored any other option. Am I doing the right thing?

— Vinit Thukral

A. If you grow up seeing your parents enjoy what they do, it’s natural to think about doing it yourself. Going into the same career can give you major advantages. You will not only have grown up seeing what is required in the job, but also what is required to succeed in it. Without realising it, you will have picked up a whole lot of ‘inside’ tips just listening to your parents talk about their work at the dinner table. Being able to bounce off ideas also makes a big difference, besides strengthening family bonds. You also have a readymade list of contacts that can make your entry into the field a lot easier.

The only flipside I can possibly think of is being “pressured” to measure up if your parents have been very successful in their field. But that can act as a great spur to better your achievement, which is a good thing.

It is equally important to consider your own interests and aptitude carefully because they can help you find a rewarding career. Some other factors must also be examined when exploring educational and career opportunities. Think about how your interests, abilities, experiences, personality, and values will influence your satisfaction and success. These factors are also important in career exploration — just as important as your interests. For example, certain fields require a lot more study and work than others. If you find that hard work and study don’t quite appeal to you, do take this into account when considering a career.

Try your hand at teaching

Q. After doing my bachelor’s in hotel management from IHM, Meerut, I have been working at a time-share property for two years. I am not too happy in my job and feel that I am very good at teaching and explaining things to others. Are there any recognised courses that I could take up to be eligible to teach or go into training?

— Gopika Vasvani

A. The National Council for Hotel Management & Catering Technology, Noida and IGNOU offer a two-year certified hospitality trainer programme at IHM, Library Avenue, Pusa Complex, New Delhi, & IHM, CIT Campus, TTTI-Tharamai (PO), Chennai.

Eligibility: B.Sc (hospitality and hotel administration) from NCHMCT & IGNOU/ Bachelors degree in hotel management

Assistanceship: Rs 4,000 a month for all candidates


Later, with a few years of experience as a trainer, you can go in for the certified hotel administrator programme or the certified human resources executive programme offered by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, which are globally recognised certifications.

Have your cake, eat it too

Q. I will be completing class 12 this year. I am keenly interested in a career related to civil engineering or construction management. Please suggest a suitable option other than in the field of architecture.

— Sukhbir Jinda

A. One suitable option you could consider is quantity surveying. A surveyor is a professional who is fully conversant with the technical, building and engineering aspects of construction as well as with the commercial aspects related to contracts. It is this combination of skills that makes him so valuable.

A qualified surveyor performs a variety of tasks related to construction. He takes detailed measurements from the plan once an architect has approved it. Before the construction goes on-line, the QS calculates the costs involved, prepares schedules to be priced by tenders for the purpose of valuation in lump-sum contracts. He assists in negotiating and obtaining quotations and administering the contract. He may also be required to serve as an arbitrator when needed.

As far as employment prospects are concerned, skilled QS professional is in demand in both the public and private sectors — in India and abroad. Various government departments like the Military Engineering Services (Ministry of Defence), Ministry of Surface Transport, NPCC and corporates hire these specialists. Often, the QS functions as an independent consultant either alone or along with architects/ engineers, who are qualifield surveyors.

A 10+2 or equivalent with PCM from a recognised institution is the basic eligibility for admission to the surveyors course. The exams (first, intermediate, final and direct finals) are conducted by the Institution of Surveyors, New Delhi, for building & quantity surveying and other branches of surveying twice a year at various centres in the country.

Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi, also offers a B.Tech in Project Management, Quantity Surveying & Contracting in association with CIDC.

Reading between political lines

Q. I have been avidly watching political analysts discuss Indo-Pak affairs on our news channels following the Mumbai terror attack. I would love to do that! How can I become one?

— Nakul Gandotra

A. A political analyst is someone who keenly observes the contemporary political situation, both nationally and internationally, and makes his observations on them. Political analysts support policymakers by evaluating the goals and motivations of foreign governments. They examine their culture, values, society and ideologies; their resources and capabilities; their political and decision making processes; the strengths and weaknesses of their strategies for achieving their goals; and the implications of all of the above for the country’s interests.

Of course we also see a lot of them in the media as well. You just have to flip through the edit pages of our national dailies or on television to see these worthies hopping from news channel to news channel — holding forth 24/7!

A political analyst often has a degree in political science and may be associated with a research institution. However, most analysts however get an opportunity to express their views on a regular basis only after years of experience in writing on the subject – unless you are contributing to your own blog (and there are plenty such on the Net, some of which make for fascinating reading).

Typically, most of the analysts you see on TV are either senior / retired bureaucrats, ex-Generals, defence analysts, politicians or veteran journos. Besides an ability to express one’s views clearly and objectively, the most important requirement for anyone wanting to be a political analyst is a keen interest in politics and sufficient knowledge about historical trends. And in this age of specialisation it would help to specialise in a particular region — China, Middle East, South Asia etc.

This column appears weekly. Please send in your queries, preferably on a postcard, along with your full name, complete address and academic qualifications to:

Editor, Jobs and Careers, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160030, or at



Food for Thought
Golf could make you deaf

PLAYING golf can make you deaf, say doctors, who warned that golfers using latest generation of titanium drivers should wear earplugs to protect them from noise.

Those at risk are the players who use a new generation of thin-faced titanium drivers to propel the ball further and make the game easier, the scientists said. According to ear specialists who studied the case, the booming noise the metal club head makes when it strikes the ball was found to have reduced the hearing of a 55-year-old golfer, reports the Scotsman.

The study has been published in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal. In the study, tests of six titanium clubs against six thicker-faced stainless steel models revealed that the former all produced greater sound levels. The authors say: “Our results show that thin-faced titanium drivers may produce sufficient sound to induce temporary or even permanent cochlear damage in susceptible individuals.”

Andrew Coltart, one of Scotland’s leading professional golfers, said: “If you are wearing earplugs you might not hear the shouts of ‘fore’, be hit by a ball on the head and get brain damage.” The doctors, based at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, decided to conduct the tests after a 55-year-old golfer attended their clinic with unexplained tinnitus and reduced hearing in his right ear. — ANI



Labelling problem children does more harm than good

LABELLING children as those with learning and behavioural difficulties can be detrimental to them and their teachers as well, says a new study. Linda Graham of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) found that children labelled as having “ADHD-like” (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) symptoms, for example, were at a disadvantage when it came how people perceived them.

“I have been looking at the things we say and how that affects what we do, and I have looked at the files of students who were referred to special schools for behaviour,” she said. Her interest was in the pervasive nature of the discourses around ADHD.

“ADHD went from something which was relatively obscure in the early 1990s, which most people didn’t know about unless they had a child with it, to all of a sudden becoming something everyone knows about,” she said.

“It is especially problematic when children can end up with an ‘informal’ diagnosis which becomes a kind of pop-culture explanation for why children behave in certain ways.” She cited the example of one boy who had speech problems and learning difficulties from the age of six and had been described numerous times by schools as having “ADHD-like behaviours”.

“This phrase was used to describe everything about him with the use of words like impulsiveness and inattention and hyperactivity, which turned out to be a big problem because his first school, as well as subsequent schools, became fixated on this label informally diagnosing the boy.

“As it turned out, he did not have ADHD, but was speech and language-impaired, which would also give a good explanation to why he was explosive: if he was verbally challenged by another child he would be more likely to hit out.

“However, because of the red-herring effect of ADHD, this was misinterpreted as impulsivity with terrible, long-lasting consequences for the boy concerned.” — IANS