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Published on April 8, 2016 | Interviews
The Wise Pass It On – Research Biologist Vidisha On Why Marks And Trends Shouldn’t Define Career Paths

It is generally the case that when students have to make a career choice, they are too young and don’t have much information to make a good decision. The best people to pass on advice are the ones who have gone through the same thing, and survived it. So we thought it would be best for working professionals to look back down their career paths and share their wisdom with students of today. So if you are a student who has completed 10th standard or 12th standard board exams, and pondering on what to do next, our series of interviews will shed light. This week, we have Vidisha, a research Biologist at the National Institute of Immunology, who is happy with her career now, but wanted to become a doctor.

Q: Tell us about yourself?

A: I am Vidisha Minhas. I am doing my Ph.D from Delhi University and National Institute of Immunology in Reproductive Biology. I’ve done my Masters and Bachelors in Bio Technology.
Q: When you arrived at this field, you would have chosen specific subjects during and post your high school. How did you choose your subjects? And what was the rationale behind your choices?
A: I wanted to be a doctor. My goal was MBBS, but I could not clear the exam. At that time, Bio Technology sounded good. Meaning, it was a different subject. My subjects in school were Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Maths. I wasn’t interested in Botany or Zoology as I thought they were basic science. I wanted to do something different. There also was a notion that it will boom in 5 or 10 years. But that did not happen, and I ended up choosing Bio Technology. I pursued Masters and then a Ph.D as I wanted a higher degree. I don’t know about the future, but currently I am enjoying my Ph.D research.

vidisha research biologist

Q: During that time, did you seek any expert advice or professional guidance regarding the specific streams in your subjects and possible career options you could choose, and the nature of work those fields would have?
A: No, not at all. Parents tried their best to help me out. They would read newspapers and gather information from their colleagues about options, but there were no good guidance.
Q: How about your friends and acquaintances? Did they go for any such guidance or counseling?
A: Not anyone I know of, no.
The education system in India is not at all good. Everyone is running behind marks. Everyone is running behind trends; at one point it is science, and at another point it is engineering.
Q: How are they doing? Are they completely happy with what they are doing?
A: Like Amit said, no one is happy. Every one is stressed; they want to do something different. One of my friends loves to write. But she is an assistant in the Ministry of Home Affairs. She cannot quit her job to pursue a career in writing because she wants to earn as well. So no one is happy.
Q: If there was a system that, in your case, could have predicted that instead of Medical, you are more suited for research and that you have an eye for details, a system that would have helped you choose your subjects accordingly, would you have used it?
A: Definitely yes, because the education system in India is not at all good. Everyone is running behind marks. Everyone is running behind trends; at one point it is science, and at another point it is engineering. Lately MBA because it promises a good job and a good package. I don’t think anybody knows what they want to do in future. After 12th standard, you are so blank, that you just do what is trending. So if such a system exists, it would be really helpful.

Vidisha is fortunate to have stumbled upon a career that she enjoys, and now ponders how it would have been if she had become a doctor as she hoped to. It was a good thing that the foundation of her education was relevant to both streams, but it is something that should not be left to chance. Stay tuned for more such interviews.

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