Taking the road less traveled

While the world is crying slowdown and news of companies downsizing makes headlines every day, crystal ball gazing on alternate careers might not be the order of the day.

But such is the Indian growth story that apart from expansion in the sunrise sectors, entirely new opportunities have emerged today. Youngsters are now more than willing to ditch traditional jobs in favor of alternate professions. What were considered just hobbies before, are now considered mainstream vocations. Be it the hospitality industry, music, performance arts or media, opportunities in these sectors have a surprising number of takers and with good reason.

Says Kalaivani Barathan, a career counselor, “While engineering and medicine are still popular, there is a huge craze for alternative career options. It’s good news that parents are also encouraging their wards to follow their passion.”

Soundarya Rajinikanth, who heads an animation studio, agrees. “The opportunities in fields like animation have increased by leaps and bounds. As a mainstream career, animation is finding many takers because there is a paucity of trained professionals in that field. It is an offbeat career, yes, but one in which there is no lack of opportunity or money.”

For model-cum-VJ Paloma Rao, it was the encouragement from her parents that gave her the courage to choose her career path. “My parents have always pushed me to concentrate on my extra-curricular activities and made it clear that I could be whatever I wanted as long as I had the drive. My dad is a doctor, but he also plays the guitar very well…I guess when parents lead by example, it is much more encouraging.”

But do these fields pay well? “Of course they do,” says musician Arjun Thomas and adds: “I would say that you can probably make more money in your alternate career. Even though I studied economics in college, I knew that eventually, I would always end up being a full-time musician.”

The clamor for all things different and the prospect of earning more have led many away from traditional career choices. However, there are people like Namrata Ramaratnam, a teacher, for whom what matters most is making a difference to the society. “I work with kindergarten students and try to inculcate in them a questioning attitude and thirst for knowledge. It’s about time we questioned the norms of society than live with illogical boundaries and comply with ancient and outdated practices,” she concludes.

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