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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Counsellor - 9

Mission abroad

Being the only child, I'm somewhat over-protected at home. Because of this reason, I have told my parents about my wish to go abroad, preferably to the US, for further studies. However, they say that I will not be able to cope with pressure and their study system. They also fear that I will become undisciplined because of all the freedom available to children there. What do you feel?

Subhash Chand

Unlike your teachers in school, university professors in the US rarely check attendance or day-to-day homework. You are expected to be responsible for yourself and your obligations as a student (you'll be treated as an adult and in turn,will be expected to behave as one.)

But don't worry - you won't be left completely on you own. Universities have a sophisticated service infrastructure to help you. There are counselling centres, residence advisors, medical services, placement offices, etc

Sure, the freedom at college can be difficult to get used to. Immense study load with an emphasis on selfstudy vs rote learning on one hand and the numerous distractions including a new multi-cultural environment on the other may pull you in opposite directions.One of the most important things you can learn during your first months at university is "balance".

Eco blues

I am a student of BA (Hons) economics from one of the reputed colleges of the Delhi University. But in spite of pouring over my books for hours my performance in college is pathetic. I barely manage to scrape through most papers. I find the course very dry and uninteresting. Subjects like linear algebra, statistical methods and economic history seem academic and pointless where as economics in school was so scoring and interesting. I am very depressed.

Minal Rani

Few of us realise that success at college requires a level of skill we have not yet acquired. Note that I am using the word "skill", not "brains" or "intelligence". It's all about working smarter, not harder.

If you've got admission to a reputed college, it is safe to assume that you are smart enough to be there and have the basic intelligence required to succeed. Like many students, what you lack is the set of skills necessary to put that intelligence to study at college. Strangely while we are taught all kinds of subjects at school level, the critical "how to study" bit is invariably ignored. And just like swimming or bicycling, these skills don't come naturally. A few lucky ones get it right,while the rest try to figure it out through trial and error.Universities in the West offer special study skills seminars and courses. There are some excellent books on the topic. If you want me to suggest a few, send me an e-mail with "Study Skills" in the subject line and I'll send you a list.

Good study skills are not just relevant to school and college, they are transferable to most other aspects of your life. This kind of mental training is also what most employers look for when they hire new employees.

A valuable transferable skill you'll learn at college is the ability to think and effectively apply yourself to new tasks and situations. And you'll acquire this gradually as you study seemingly impractical subjects like calculus and game theory.

Economics is a fascinating subject, but you will discover its beauty only if you delve into its depths. You may not end up as an economist but the mental gymnastics required in such courses will be very helpful in the "real" world.Therefore each time you open your textbook or notes, solve a mathematical problem or prepare for a class assignment and you are getting ready for the real world.

Remember, education is the most portable asset you will acquire. It goes wherever you go.

Looking ahead

I have been an English teacher for the last five years. Am I eligible to become a voice and accent trainer in the BPO sector?

Riya Dogra

Yes, you are. Voice and accent (V&A) trainers teach how to roll your R's and soften your D's, fix your accent, spruce up your grammar to enable you to breeze through a five-minute conversation with an American or European. Their services range from hiring the suitable candidates to training them in the requisite voice and accent. This is a new breed of professionals who have come up as a result of the ever-increasing call centres in the country.

Whereas earlier, call centre executives needed to be trained to use a specific American or British accent, now neutral Global English is the acceptable norm.

A single call centre can hire between 20 to 60 V&A trainers who take training sessions with the executives, monitor calls and identify agents who need a refresher course.

The V&A trainers are handpicked for the job because of their clarity of speech and fluency. Starting at Rs 30,000 per-month or thereabouts your remuneration could go up to Rs 50,000 or more. Needless to say, the timings may be erratic and you may need to work in the night shifts.

To become a V&A trainer you need to have an excellent command over English which you must be having since you are an English teacher. Besides, you must have a passion for training, good people skills and oodles of patience and enthusiasm. A graduate/postgraduate degree in any discipline is a mandatory requirement. A certification in teaching English to adults would be a good add-on.

It would go a long way if you have travelled abroad and are familiar with Western cultural nuances.

Many companies prefer to hire candidates with BPO experience. But anyone — be it a housewife, fresh graduate or even retired personnel — can join the industry if they have the requisite skill set.

Most V&A trainers grow from the ranks after having worked for a few years in the BPO sector.

Besides call centres, you can seek employment with BPO finishing/training schools, which have sprung up all over.

Building career

Is remote infrastructure management the same as facilities management, which is a part of the real estate industry? What exactly does it entail?

Nirmal Singh

No, infrastructure management has nothing to do with managing brick and mortar property. Instead, infrastructure management falls within the IT domain. Infrastructure outsourcing involves the management of PCs, servers, and security for banks, trading houses and insurance companies among others.

Yes, this is going to be next big wave in outsourcing. While Indian companies are presently handling $1.2 billion worth of work, the figure is expected to touch $8.8 billion - making India a global hub for remote infrastructure management. Not just that, remote infrastructure management has the potential of employing millions of graduates.

A special forum has been set up to look at opportunities in the remote infrastructure management segment and work towards creating an ecosystem that would involve industryacademia partnerships and an emphasis on course curriculum specific to remote infrastructure management. Some of the big players in this business are TCS, HCL Technologies, Wipro, Satyam, Cognizant and Infosys.

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group

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