India is Calling – Kick-Start Your International Career

Posted by Peter Braun • Monday, July 19. 2010 • Category: Global Career
To gather life experience, more and more students all over the world decide to learn other languages, study or work in other countries, and travel abroad. During our university lecture tour from 17.05.2010 to 02.06.2010 at eight different German universities we were thrilled by the high numbers of international students attending our lecture “India: A New Destination for Career Fulfilment”.

Reflecting on academic experiences and the question how to utilise their education for an international career, students around the Western world now look towards new geographical directions to seek career fulfilment. More and more India is becoming a focus point for ambitious individuals pursuing their studies there, doing an internship or joining the Indian labour market after graduation.

Copyright © Knowledge Must

India has emerged as one of the cultural and economic hotspots of the 21st century. Businesses, international exchange, and intercultural collaborations are expanding at a mind-staggering pace. The country offers opportunities in virtually all major fields. Be it the institutional, corporate, science, media or cultural sector, India welcomes talented career seekers that speak European languages, bring along new knowledge, and are equipped with vocational skills the country at this stage is still lacking in sufficient numbers.

Despite the bright prospects in India, foreigners often face various problems and obstacles, such as the complexities of Indian society and culture. Already during our first stop at the University of Cologne it became very obvious that students from so many different countries joined the lecture because they hoped to access information that is often not available through their universities or the Internet.

In India most NGOs, companies, institutions, and universities do not have updated websites that announce open vacancies, mention application procedures, or list courses for the next academic year. Those who have tried to apply online often never even receive a reply. It is also hard to find out about living costs in the quickly developing urban areas, places to stay, sources for financial support, and other logistical requirements. India is not suitable for those who like it overly comfortable; it is rather for those who take the challenge and invest all their energy. It takes a lot of initiative to reach one’s private and professional goals.

Personal relationships in India play an important role in everyday life. To learn that chances to get an internship- or job confirmation will increase if the candidate takes the initiative to directly call HR departments, does a follow up after the CV was sent, and asking when to call back instead of waiting for a reply, was a great encouragement for the students. One should consider this experience as an opportunity to learn and benefit from such a challenge rather than being frustrated because nobody might call back.

Obscure decision making processes regarding internship positions, for example, often lead to delays and irritations on the side of the foreign applicants, many of whom give up frustrated. One needs to gauge carefully whom to talk to. But how can students find out who handles international admissions at an Indian university and how to apply if the information is not available via an Internet search?

By now many international universities with well established academic relationships to Indian universities have liaison offices in Indian cities and are a good source to contact. Other universities even organise workshops on the topic and connect current Indian leaders with the university and its students. For example, the workshop “India – A New Destination for Career Fulfilment” (http://www.knowledge-must.com/sai-workshop) hosted by the South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg in cooperation with Knowledge Must in New Delhi identified demands and needs of the Indian job market, and informed about career opportunities for current students and young professionals.

Copyright © Knowledge Must

Also home country institutions such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or Campus France can provide valuable information to foreigners. Student associations, regional studies institutes in the home country, and relevant media covering higher education in India can be consulted, too.

More than 300 universities and 9,000 colleges are spread all over India. The variety of courses is huge and the internationalisation of Indian universities is in full process. Yet, experiences with foreign students are still limited at most institutions. To speed up the information gathering and application process, it is helpful to be resilient. If connected on the phone from one office to the next, there is no reason to give up. A good amount of hard-headedness usually gets one to the relevant authority in the end.

A medical student at the University of Magdeburg asked us how to locate the best suited internship for facilitating a professional career in India and how an internship in India with a subsequent employment can benefit his international career. The ability to adapt to a new working environment, finding solutions in a new cultural context, a widened professional network, and developing personal skills will be good arguments for any future recruitment process.

What is more, India today is one of the major hubs for medical tourism. The health sector is amongst the largest, most competitive and fastest growing industries. Many international insurance companies send their clients for treatment to India. Private hospitals, holiday resorts, health organisations, and medical consulting companies are in high need of foreign staff with awareness for cultural habits and service standard expectations of their patients. Furthermore, India is one of the most interesting places in the world to learn about alternative forms of medicine, be it Ayurveda, Siddha or Unani.

In Dresden a student of engineering, slightly doubtful about the benefits of an internship in India, quickly changed his mind and wanted to leave for India straightaway when we explained that India has a shortage of engineers. Even though the country produces around 350,000 graduates in engineering every year, this is by far not enough to satisfy the demand of the national labour market. This results in fast job promotions, increased responsibilities, and extensive learning experiences. Even interns are often involved in project management and implementation.

While the students we met are still in their pre-departure period, we also introduced them to their predecessors who have found their way to India before them. Showing up the case studies of a student of psychology writing her thesis about psychological treatment in India after her internship in a psychiatry in New Delhi (and who wants to return now to work now for her former employer) and a German student of Delhi University who after two years of field research has joined the Asian Development Bank, inspired many to come to India soon.

Most students are well equipped to follow in their footsteps, but still require much more support in planning and executing this adventure. Open vacancies face heavy competition where most applicants are already sorted out due to their inferior application documents; information about a small but very innovative local company might not always be readily available; and the geography is so vast that is difficult to decide where to start.

A well conceived CV is usually not done in just an hour or two, but rather requires review and input by seniors, career counsellors, and professionals. To stick out of the high numbers of people applying at prestigious organisations, these documents are the entry ticket to the second round of the selection process. Application documents need to be free of mistakes and adjusted to the particular profile of the organisation. To enlist the help of professional career counsellors aware of the specifics of internship or job placements in India should be seriously considered, especially when taking into account the importance and great potential top-notch application documents hold.

To develop relevant skills for the specific working areas is another key requirement when competing for jobs. The more skills students build up at and outside of university, the easier job entry will be. Skill assessment is a reliable tool to identify weaknesses and gaps. Before starting an internship students need to analyse what experiences and type of internship will close these gaps and use these criteria in the search for the best suited option.

At the University of Leipzig a representative of the DAAD informed the students about the wide range of scholarships that are available for interns and students. These scholarships provide sufficient financial support for the comparatively low costs of life in India which are around 500 to 600 Euro a month including accommodation, daily needs, travelling expenses, and so on. Competition for destination scholarships for India is much less than for the USA, Australia or many European countries.

Other frequently mentioned concerns of the students were to arrive in a new culture without having an accommodation, figuring out transport arrangements, and not being able to speak the local language. With the right information at hand, many concerns can be easily disposed of (which is also the reason why we at Knowledge Must publish free guide books for students interested in doing an internship, working, studying, and volunteering in India; see http://www.knowledge-must.com/guidebooks).

Discussing the questions of how to apply in India, how to know about open internship or job positions, which university to study at, how to write a CV for an Indian employer or how to identify the most promising opportunities to further a professional career, students felt relieved to learn about organisations, educational consultants, and other possible partners that can give them the information they are looking for.

For students interested to work in a clinic in the jungles of the tribal belt, with international organisations promoting cultural and institutional exchanges, in a development project in urban or rural areas, on a construction or engineering site, in a school in the mighty Himalayas, or with a globally operating bank in the megacities, it will be the excitement of a lifetime to live, study, and work in India. Today the country offers more than ever the chance to immerse oneself in one of the most captivating societies in our globalising world and to witness one of the oldest and at the same time most forward-looking cultures. It is not a surprise that students follow the call to India.

comment using facebook

0 Trackbacks / PINGBACKS

1 Comments

Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
  1. Thanks for the break down, it's good to know that such options are available for soon to be internationally-minded graduates.

Add Comment


Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.