Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Educational Counselling

One of my former students who's pretty qualified and is certainly a post graduate and has an excellent CV emailed me a week ago. S/he came to my house and we discussed his/her future career plans. So, s/he's going to study further, which is fine. The interesting bit was when s/he emailed me and asked me if s/he could also teach as a guest faculty at few places, where s/he has seen other students teach. And s/he knows, and I know too, that those other students who are teaching at various places weren't as competent or qualified as him/her.

That's exactly why it took me a week or so to write this post. I didn't have the heart to email him/her right away.

Let me explain in an off-tangential manner. In 2001, we had a new course at the University. It started at our Department and this was Certificate in Italian. We had this teacher from the Italian Cultural Centre, Carlo Buldrini, a very senior and an exceptionally competent person. I had been working since 1995 in various adjunct capacities and in 2001, I still didn't have full time tenure. When the course began, I had already been to Italy for the First Annual Conference, where I presented a paper on literary translation.

And Carlo was also the former cultural counsellor. He was also the person who had co-authored the book that was used to teach Italian at the Italian Cultural Centre in New Delhi. So, I would discuss with Carlo, or rather crib a bit, about how one has to wait a long time to get full time tenure in India. I would often tell him that I had spent six years in an adjunct position. To which, Carlo said, "The situation is so much better here. In Italy, it is worse. You have to wait till you are forty or forty five to get full time tenure."

I found his words pretty comforting. And then in 2002, I did get my full time tenure. Carlo also said that back home, he knew of students who would run after their supervisors...and give them a lot of importance to find a job. Now, I had never done that and who knows that might have been one of the reasons for the delay. But when I looked at what he told me, it did seem quite comforting to realize that I had been an adjunct faculty a mere six years.

Coming back to my former student, I didn't have the heart to tell him/her that s/he probably would need to run around some 'senior' [read 'the people who mattered'] professors, if s/he really wanted to get an adjunct position. Another alternative [if like me, s/he doesn't like running after people and has a strong sense of self-esteem] is to put in 'cold CVs'. But as every marketer should know, 'cold CVs' always have a lower chance of being successful. And they take a long time to bear fruit. And then in most hierarchical and feudal systems which are prevalent at so many places in India, it would be foolhardy to think in terms of 'cold CVs'.

I would suggest that my former student should use both approaches--the running around one as also the 'cold CV' one. If s/he wants, I am always there for expert advice and I am also there to form career strategies for my students.

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