From studying technical biological sciences, working as a reporter and a teacher to not finding a job to use what I have learnt.
Here goes the story of my educational and professional path that is filled with dis-satisfaction and a never- ending confusion.
Looking at the labour market in Bhutan and where I stand in terms of job satisfaction, or even following my passion, I have failed to connect the dots. I wouldn’t want to put this in as a blame prose as I am not sure something like that even exists but one thing that does exist is the incessant confusion and mismatch of what I have studied and where I stand now.
I am an average Bhutanese who graduated from a Bhutanese College, a prestigious one I must add, and I sit home writing this on my computer. My course was BSc. Life Science. I had an amazing time learning while I was attending school. From choosing science in high school because “I had good grades” to attending college in the course that followed because I was good in science once again and also because that was the first option that was generated when I entered my marks upon my result while doing the online registration, I have been a good student, good in studies but incapable of taking a decision on her own.
Still, I had it good, I could do last minute assignments well without compromising my grades and everything you know a college student does except again take decisions.
I graduated methodically and began thinking about what I would do. I have to mention here that the things I learnt in college was diverse more diverse than a sensitive modern-day Hollywood movie. Let me list them down for fun: there was physiology, microbiology, bioinformatics (a complex computational biology), botany, chemistry, ecology, histology, embryony, developmental biology and more.
The problem was and is true to present day, I am not an expert or truly knowledgeable in any of those. “Jack of all, master of none” situation. Now those of you who did technical courses like engineering have your specific area of expertise or even the ones who did political science you might know what it is all about right?
Not me. I envy you. You who studied mass media and communication, you know what you are doing. Or if you learnt plumbing in a vocational institute I am more envious of you in fact. Now let’s talk about what my friends are doing.
I can count three of my friends who because their grades were good got a post grad scholarship and are now foresters and agriculturists.
Then comes us lot. Some are biology teachers, some are chemistry teachers, some are English teachers in Thailand. Some have gone to Japan doing I don’t know what and some are in Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar. I am not saying they aren’t happy; they must be. It happens, we do what we do and what we want to do.
I worked as a reporter right after my college. Yes, in media with my knowledge of perfect dissection. It was great because I am a naturally curious person and have held on to English language and literature since middle school so you could say I had a good grip on language. I had a great mentor as my boss, and it all went well.
Then I decided I wanted to move closer to my subject and what I loved the most, Science. I decided to be a teacher in an acclaimed private school in Bhutan teaching chemistry.
These weren’t my decisions completely. I got those jobs because there were vacancies and the recruiters saw in me what they wanted.
I mean I would have done RCSC like some of my friends from the same class that I forgot to mention who are now working in fulfilling jobs as HR officer or in Public Administration but I oh so loved Science and am determined to stay in that field, hoping one day to become a scientist or a science writer.
There were vacancies in colleges needing persons who had studied agriculture or environment studies or food science. I could never apply because although I have a general idea of these topics and have studied them and upon exposure, I could learn but my degree didn’t match. I had studied microbiology and parasitology, yet I couldn’t apply in any of these professions.
I was and still am a qualified graduate who reads like a nerd and loves taking challenges but saying these things don’t work. I wouldn’t employ someone like me at first glance. Then loosely I thought I could continue my education but again if one wants a good course outside the country that they are interested to study, one needs to have a bachelors related to the same or closely similar field, this is not entirely true in some cases but if you can’t afford and are seeking for scholarships this is how it works.
This is not very easy again because you need to choose a course. For an education enthusiast who is passionate about learning in a certain field this wrecks your dreams. And from what I have studied I can go into any course because there was a plethora of courses I was taught. I have heard this many times when someone tells you go to Australia and/or just get a better job. Newsflash, there aren’t, I fall in the general category, but I studied science. Then I remember someone who told me this in high school, “If you choose science, you will always find a job.”
Now coming to the real issue at hand that me and several other “graduates” are facing and correct me if I am wrong.
Could this be happening to us because we didn’t get career counselling in schools? Is this because they said science is better than arts and if so, how?
Is this because we have a system of education where the concern is just getting through one level to next without an inch of idea as to where you are going? Is this why most people are faking marriages with their cousins or even siblings and are moving to Australia? Is this because as students, instead of talking to us about issues that were real in adulthood and giving us talks on personal growth and counselling, we were called up to Principal’s office for elicit affairs on the pretext of being seen with a boy or liking a boy?
Is this because we were told to do almost everything, we failed to become free thinkers and decision makers?
I ask this not in the context of sarcasm but in genuine modesty. Do some courses offered in our colleges actually have prospects or will there be more biotechnology graduates doing postgraduate in public administration or in education just because it is the next mechanical step.
By Rachana Sharma
The writer is a former reporter and teacher