With the intention to allow students to gain experience working in an organisa­tion and access information in various industries, The Accelerator team of students who had just given their XIIth Board exams did not waste any time during the holidays waiting for their results and participated in this 45-day internship programme.

The main aim was to ensure the student learn more about their career options, and to get a better idea about their own interests, potential as well as the market value of the different courses relating to Northeastern states. There are very few courses at the university that provide graduates with a specific professional qualification. It is generally down to the students to define and implement their own personal career plans. The purpose of this internship was to benefit the students in this respect. Also to acquire important supplementary skills during an internship and make contact with potential future employers.

The Accelerator internship provides a variety of benefits for young students who want to broaden their chances of landing a job and jump-starting their careers. The main objective is to expose youngsters to a partic­ular job, a profession or industry. They gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about the field, and assess their interest and abilities.

What is your message for students who opt for tourism as a career?

Sikkim is a land with variety of beautiful places and tourist spots and in the last three to four years, tourist flow to Sikkim has been massive. Therefore, a student in Sikkim who chooses tourism as a career has a really bright future. However, students should not only restrict his/her thinking to government jobs. There are lot of other options which you can choose after studying tourism. You can open your own enterprise for hospitality, travel agency, and a lot more. You have a number of doors open, a government job is just one of them.

What are the various jobs avenues in the Department of Tourism at present for a job seeker?

To be honest, the Tourism Department, Government of Sikkim is not only open for tourism students, but for people from other arenas too. I am from an IT background and I have been deputed here as an Assistant Director. There are various engineers and even the people from civil services background who are working in the department. However, in years to come, provisions are being made for massive job openings in the department particularly for the people belonging to tourism background.

In Sikkim, there are only 20%- 30% students who secure first division marks (>70%) in their +2 level and only these students get scholarships from Government. But the remaining students do not get any help from the Government. They don’t get scholarship nor do they get admission in Government colleges. What do you have to say about this scenario?

The world is competitive today. If you want to get attention, you have to stand on the top. But still those who don’t get good marks and scholarships and admissions should not worry a lot. There are private institutions which gives good education. Regarding the fees, educational loan is a good option. You can seek for loan and once you get the placement, the loan can be paid.

Is there any specific channel in your department through which students and job seekers can contact the department?

Not specifically. However, we do update every notification in our official website sikkimtourism.gov.in and even the daily newspapers. The one who remains updated with the news can learn about the recent happenings in our department.

What is the future of the tourism sector in Sikkim, in your point of view?

Sikkim, as I already mentioned has a bright future for tourism. The Sikkim Government has launched a lot of projects to attract tourists to Sikkim. Artificial spots such as Chardhamm and Buddha Park and the natural beauty makes Sikkim a must visit place among tourists. This brings in heaps of revenues as well as good opportunities for a large section of unemployed people. Be they drivers, local guides, hotels and shop owners, everyone can make a living. This gives Sikkim an economic boost and makes the State popular worldwide.

SIDDARTH, Bank Manager, Bank of Baroda

What is the minimum qualification students need to enter the banking sector?

Generally there are three categories (1) sub-staff (2) clerical & (3) official. And there is one more called “specialized officer”. The qualification needed to enter into sub-staff category is to pass the 8th standard. For the entrance in clerical category, the minimum qualification needed is to pass the 12th standard. For the official category, the minimum qualification needed is graduation. And a master’s degree is mandatory to apply for the post of specialized officer.

Is there any particular course to enter into the banking sector?

There is no need to have a particular degree from the finance or commerce background, you only need to have a good basic knowledge of mathematics, reasoning, GK, and English. Basic knowledge of these four subjects is sufficient to have an average career in the banking sector. But there is an entrance exam called IBPS to enter the nationalised banks except SBI. For SBI, they have their own exam.

What are the main criteria that your bank focuses on to hire an individual?

Generally, for official category, the candidate should be a graduate from any recognized university/ college. He/she has to qualify the entrance exam, then some personal interviews and group discussions are held. After that, the cut off list will be out. Then students/candidates will be selected from that list only.

What are the many job opportunities in the banking sector?

There is good scope for those who want to pursue their career in the banking sector. Especially for Northeastern people, more opportunities are there. We don’t find much people from the Northeast in the banking sector. The population is less in the Northeast. So, there are more opportunities for the Northeast people. And they can serve their people better, as outsiders take time to get going. But local people could easily assess their local environment which would be beneficial for them and their people. So, local people, especially of Sikkim should enter into the banking sector. So that banks can serve the local people better.

If we pursue vocational courses along with our graduation, will that add any value while entering the banking sector?

No, banking sector doesn’t recognize any of those vocational courses as vocational courses will not be beneficial in the banking sector. There is no such vocational course to enter into the banking sector directly.

You are from Orissa and now you are now working in Sikkim. So, have you noticed any particular characteristics about the localities of Sikkim?

Sikkimese people are very smart and their sense of humour is also good. But the competitiveness is not so strong. So, they should compete at a national/global level. Students of Sikkim should compete with students of other parts of the country. There is a lack of awareness in Sikkim. Government and NGOs as well as other qualified people should take the initiative of spreading awareness.

As you have done your specialisation in pharmacy what insight can you provide us as regards to the future in pharmacy?

It’s big and tremendous. Sikkim people tend to remain in Sikkim itself. If you are good and if you work hard, it is rewarding but at the same time, it can be a demanding job.

What are the challenges faced by an average student while pursing MBBS?

The question depends on whether the average student belongs to a middle class or a poor family. Getting into MBBS is very difficult but once you get in, there are 100 students just like you and passing won’t be difficult. And if you don’t qualify, you have to drop one year. It doesn’t mean that you are not capable, only after you fall, you can truly rise. You should have patience and you should work hard. Do not lose hope. Keep trying.

50-60% of the students in Sikkim pursue normal degree courses whereas 10% of the students pursue professional degree courses. Is that the reason why the students from Sikkim are falling behind?

Our Prime Minister is emphasising on skilful and digital India, which will make our country at par with other developed countries. I feel if a student opts for a professional skilful course, it will add more value and will provide better job opportunities. We need scientists, research scholars, and new age innovative engineers. Technical courses are for those who want to join the Forces, Human Rights/ Environmental Lawyers. Merely doing honours course will not suffice in this day and age. By year 2020, India will produce the maximum number of graduates and that is the time when one’s professional qualification will come to play.

Is B Pharm a good course as compared to others?

Master’s degree will always give you a preference. Even after doing M Pharm, some people pursue PHD also but bachelor’s degree is enough to get jobs. It’s not necessary to do M Pharm but it’s always given more preference.

People of Sikkim think that after pursuing pharmacy, we have to work in a medical shop.

That is such a wrong concept. You do any normal degree, you may not get a job but if you do pharmacy at least you will have a job. Your job will pay Rs 20,000 -25,000. That is just the starting scale. It’s just that pursuing pharmacy gives you a license to open a pharmacy shop but now pharmaceutical companies are coming up so you can choose to work for them. Sikkim is the hub of pharmaceutical companies and each company will have 500 to 600 employees, according to the Government of India.

SHAMBHU PRADHAN, Retd. DSP, Sikkim Police

Many students are interested to make a career in the Forces and for this, they seek to enter the force immediately after completing their schooling or even before that. Is that good? Isn’t this tradition making our youth less qualified and less competitive?

No, that’s not true, there is a minimum qualification that one has to complete before joining any force. And these days, lots of graduates and postgraduates are entering the force. And the ones who don’t complete their education before joining the force can complete it after entering the force. And it is mandatory for anyone with a better qualification to get promoted to higher posts. Therefore the ones who want to be promoted need to complete their higher education. If you are ambitious enough, then no one can stop you from learning and progressing.

Talking about the employment in the Government Sector, thousands of graduates come out of Sikkim Government Colleges every year and only a fraction of them go for higher studies. The others seek jobs in the Government offices with their degrees in their hands. However the Government cannot recruit all of them at once. And therefore, the number of unemployed people grows. Some compromise by opting for small jobs while some reach the highest level of frustration. What do you have to say about this situation?

Yeah, we have this employment crisis. And the reason is that locals don’t want to work outside of Sikkim as there will be more competition and to compete they’ll have to work harder. Another main reason for our youth to be unemployed is that, most of our students study in Sikkim only. So, they don’t get any exposure. When they pass out and start to seek jobs, most of them get rejected and outsiders get more preference as the value of their degree is more. And the reason for this is that the students who complete their higher studies from outside Sikkim get more exposure as compared to the students who study here in Sikkim only.

In India (or particularly in Sikkim), the reservation system is creating a big problem. The trend in Sikkim today is that SC/ST students gets 100% scholarships while people from other sections hardly gets any waive in fees. We know that not all SCs & STs are financially weak. What do you have to say on this?

Yeah, it is a fact that untouchability was a big problem in old days. That’s why the reservation system was introduced and this problem still exists in some parts of our country. But nowadays Gen/OBC has gone down. Now the time has come for our leaders to think on this again. Scholarships should be provided on merit base instead of quota. This will help our nation to grow more rapidly, as the competitiveness between our youths will increase and our youth will become more skilled and qualified which is directly beneficial for the development of our nation.

Many of our Sikkimese youth have been affected by drugs, despite of various government awareness programmes on drugs and its disadvantages. Sikkim today stands second in drug intake in the whole country as per NCR. What is the main reason for this, according to you?

Government has taken various steps to deal with this problem but an individual should also take responsibility and come forward to help the government. The Government can only spread awareness but if an individual is not willing to leave the addiction then it is of no use. Today, most of the drug addicts are well educated and being an educated youth of our society, they should take some responsibility. Unemployment can frustrate an individual immensely but instead of choosing the wrong path, they should think of some ideas to create employment. They can form small groups and start their own small business or they can even start NGOs. But if educated people will continue to go towards the wrong path then this problem will never be solved.

HR Head, Leading Pharmaceutical Company

Do you have anything to convey to the students who have decided to take pharmacy as their career?

First of all, let us talk about the courses. In pharmacy courses, you have two basic options i.e. B Pharm (Bachelors in Pharmacy) and M Pharm (Masters in Pharmacy). And then you can do a Doctorate in Pharmacy. After the completion of any of these courses, you are eligible for jobs in pharmaceutical companies. You can opt for jobs in manufacturing, supervision, research and analysis and others. Particularly for research after your PhD, you have to go out of Sikkim, specifically to Mumbai, as Sikkim does not have enough resources. There are about 20- 25 pharmaceutical companies in Sikkim. So yearly, about 500 job opportunities are available for those completing their courses. Pharmacy has a huge scope in Sikkim and it is one of the best career options for the students.

What are the job opportunities available after completing the degree?

After an individual completes bachelor’s in pharmacy, in our company, we can recruit him/ her in different fields. Welfare and Cutting Department, PC Department, Packaging Department and Production Department are different avenues where we offer employment to people as per their qualification.

What qualifications/qualities do you expect from an applicant?

Definitely, our first preference is the academic qualification. As per the requirement of the post, the candidates doing bachelor’s or master’s is picked by the company. However, some additional skills such as communication and the ability to handle the workload are also examined.

There is a new course i.e. Pharma D. How is it different from other courses? Is it more preferable than the other courses?

Pharma-D or Doctorate in pharmacy is a course preferred specifically for research and analysis and is not job-oriented. It is a new-age course purely focused on the research process. In Sikkim, as I said, we do not have enough scope for this. Therefore, I would suggest students of Sikkim not to opt for this.

What is the starting salary package an individual gets in pharmacy?

Basically the starting package for an individual hired after completing their diploma in pharmacy is Rs 16,000 and for an individual hired after completing their bachelors in pharmacy is Rs 22,000. But the package will gradually increase with the increase in experience.

Is there any side effect for people working in the manufacturing department?

No, there is no side effect for the people working in the manufacturing department in pharmaceutical companies. We take all the required precautions.

Dr D Purohit, HOD, Mathematics Department, Tadong Government College

Sir, it’s very inspiring to know that you have a PhD in Mathematics. What is your inspiration?

I was fascinated by maths from the very beginning. Since my father was an engineer, maths did my upbringing. I always used to wonder why butterflies fly and why the leaves have a particular structure. After completion of PhD in BIO-MATHEMATICS, I got all my answers. Mathematics is a wonderful subject, more innovative, beautiful and different. You’ll even get the answers of how water and blood flows through mathematics (fluid dynamics).

Maths seems more interesting in higher levels. Tell us more about its scope.

Mathematics is deep rooted in every field. Even subjects like bioinformatics, geography, and microbiology are interlinked with maths. Data mining, artificial Intelligence, switch system, foggy technology are the imperative application of mathematics. With the advent of technology ITC (Information &Communication Technology) mathematics has been introduced properly. Without mathematics, field including computer science and engineering are unimaginable.

Sir, between professional course and degree course, which do you think is best for students who are taking mathematics in a higher level?

If a maths lover takes up a professional course like engineering they will be the ‘Jack of all, but master of none’. Degree courses are more specific where one can quench the inquisition. Therefore, degree courses are preferable for students who want to discover the beauty of mathematics.

What are the job prospects for Sikkimese students?

By studying mathematics, you’ll never go jobless. In Sikkim, there’s always a good demand for teachers. Beside that, you can be a researcher or a scientist. Internationally, companies like WIPRO, IBM, and HP always demand for mathematicians. In every department, mathematicians are hired for statistical jobs. Since the subject is interlinked with many different fields. Good analyzing power of mathematicians is always of great value in the market.

Which are the top colleges for pursuing maths, according to you?

Obviously, IITS but excluding that, IISC, Bangalore and St Stephens, Delhi will be on my list.

Sir, the way we witness great syllabus leap between 10th standard and 11th standard, will that gap persist even in the higher levels?

You won’t find a great leap while entering the UG level but stepping in PG level would be a challenge. In the UG level, you are master of all but in the PG level you have to be specific. All the formula you use in the UG level without much understanding, you’ll get to know its origination in the PG level.

Why do you think people consider maths as a tough subject?

Maths isn’t a difficult subject, it’s just innovative and different. It’s the preconception which has added the phobia from the very beginning. The fear psychology affects our system, limiting our confidence.

What suggestion can you give to youngsters to tackle this phobia?

You just need to love the subject. There is no hard and fast rule that a particular problem has to be solved in a particular way. So there is no limit to your creativeness, you can go wild with your ideas and innovations.

Are you satisfied with what you’re doing? Is this what you had planned?

Yes. I’m satisfied. Though this is not what I’ve planned, but I’m happy. I fulfilled my father’s dream of being an academician. When I was in Delhi University doing my graduation, I had the UPSC fever in me, I even cracked the Prelims twice but due to the subject combination (maths and history) both of which were very vast, maybe that’s why I couldn’t get through the main exam.

Any message for UPSC aspirants opting for mathematics?

Choose your subject carefully. There are easy subjects like sociology and anthropology whose combination will help you do better.

What do you have to say regarding the competitiveness of Sikkimese students in the national and international level?

Easy access to money has created a ‘happy-go-lucky’ nature in Sikkimese students. We hardly find any students with the sheer zeal and enthusiasm to achieve something in life. In my childhood days, the pain and suffering of rickshaw pullers scared me. I used to have nightmares. That if I won’t study, I’ll end up being like that.

Any message you want to give to the students who are pursuing mathematics in higher level?

Mathematics is a beautiful subject. If you love the subject, you’ll find a way. It demands lot of time, dedication and devotion unlike any subject so you have to be ready. I would like to recommend a movie titled ‘A Beautiful Mind’ by Russell Crowe. It has inspired me a lot. Hope it will inspire you too. I had met the main person behind the movie ‘John Nass’ in Chicago University. I am even a researcher but since I am the vice head of SGC, Tadong, I have become quite an administrator.

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