Civil Services, startups or influencing – The right career option?

Anubhav Dubey was sent to Delhi by his father to prepare for the UPSC exam. He realized it was not his cup of tea. Today, he is the co-founder of a multi-crore company called Chai Sutta Bar which has over 500 outlets across the country. Similarly, Anubhav Singh Bassi left UPSC preparation to become one of the top comedians in the country. These are just two examples of people leaving traditional career paths to make their mark in the new economy.

Deciding on a career path after college can be challenging. While some individuals have a clear sense of direction early on, many others must navigate through uncertainties. The ongoing discussion about aspirants devoting several years of their prime to civil services’ exam preparation provides an opportunity to examine our assumptions about what makes a promising career.

In recent years, startups have become an appealing and ambitious career choice for young people. Thanks to popular shows like Shark Tank and podcasts featuring successful founders, the concept of launching one’s own business has spread even to tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Similarly, people are taking up unconventional career options like vlogging, standup comedy, influencing, etc. This has given rise to a new category of celebrities who have a substantial fan following.

This situation is reminiscent of other career paths that have held significant allure at various times in the past. In Indian society, government jobs, besides offering stability, have also been associated with glamour. Growing up in a small town, figures like the district collector or SP served as role models due to the admirable work they performed and the respect they garnered from society. I also recall that becoming a probationary officer in a state-owned bank was highly coveted in my circle. The numbers speak for themselves—the number of applicants for government positions, ranging from civil services to railway jobs, far exceeds the available vacancies.

The shift in the attitudes of young people is reflective of the times we live in. Unlike the previous generation, who prioritized survival in times of scarcity, today’s youth exhibit a higher appetite for risk. The previous generation sought secure jobs and a reliable source of income to provide for their family. Thanks to the stability provided by their predecessors, today’s generation has the freedom to explore various career paths. This shift also stems from the growing self-confidence among Indians. We are now more willing to take risks. This change is evident not only in career choices but also in how we approach sports. Young cricketers like Rinku Singh or Yashasvi Jaiswal demonstrate this fearlessness by taking on challenging plays and aiming for big hits, which previous generations would have viewed as highly risky.

However, there has also been a downside to this trend. Some people are opting these new ventures purely for the allure of fame and glamour or as a means to escape the challenges of traditional jobs. We all have that friend who constantly pitches new business ideas whenever we meet them, but these ideas often fizzle out quickly. They serve as a way for individuals to envision a future where they are free from their perceived monotonous and uninspiring jobs.The reality is that individuals who pursue careers in civil services, startups or any other field purely for the appeal of glamour often end up feeling dissatisfied and discontented, even if they attain short-term success. The fleeting moments of fame often take away more from one’s well-being than they provide.A prime example of this phenomenon is observed in some ‘influencers’ who prioritize gaining attention and glamour over offering substantive and engaging content to their audience. ‘Influencing’ has emerged as a highly desired career path for many young individuals, promising rapid fame and success. While some excel at influencing by delivering valuable and captivating content to their followers, many others mistakenly believe they can achieve the glamorous aspect without putting in the hard work and dedication required, as seen in professions such as civil services and startups.

As we transition into the era of Artificial Intelligence, it is probable that we will see the emergence of new career avenues. While it is crucial to welcome this change rather than resisting it, it is equally vital to recognize that these new roles will demand increased mental adaptability and perseverance from us. In a world abundant with options, young people may encounter challenges in selecting a single career path and committing to it wholeheartedly without constantly seeking simpler alternatives.

Regardless of whether they opt to pursue careers as civil servants, startup founders, influencers or in new AI positions, it is imperative that individuals possess clarity of thought regarding their choices. They should strive to understand why they are drawn to a particular path and pursue their aspirations to their natural conclusion before contemplating a shift to other career trajectories.

The confidence of the younger generation should be nurtured rather than stifled, fostering an environment where they can channel their energy into forging new paths. Nevertheless, they also require mentoring to instil the value of maintaining focus and perseverance.


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