Walking the path to success in law and science
How did a mechanical engineering student from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) who played cricket with Ravi Shastri in college become the Director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru? And why did a young girl from Varanasi who topped her board exams in school eschew the obvious choice of medicine as a career?
In a session, ‘Careers in Science’, on the third and final day of the ‘The Hindu Career Counselling Digital Conclave’ on Sunday, Smith Jain, associate director (academia and government relations-India) at Cactus Communications, and Satyajit Mayor of NCB,S drew from their personal experiences to talk about opportunities in science beyond medicine and engineering.
Curiosity, confidence and courage
It takes curiosity, confidence and courage to embark on a journey — one that entails hard work and passion but will bring you joy and success, said Ms. Jain, who until recently was the executive editor of IndiaBioscience, a non-profit science outreach platform that bridges gaps within life sciences.
“Your career is your responsibility. It’s not the responsibility of your parents, teachers or peers,” said Ms. Jain, who along with Prof Mayor underscored the importance of the scope of interdisciplinary studies in science. “The mindset was that career paths are set in stone, and you move linearly from graduation and post graduation to a PhD, maybe a postdoc and then a researcher. There’s nothing wrong in this, but it’s not the only option.”
Ms. Jain’s career path is an example of this. After having decided not to do medicine as she was not comfortable in a hospital setting, she did her Ph.D in Cancer Biology from the IISc., but decided against going ahead with a postdoc. She urged students to network with people beyond their fields of interest, gain insight from professionals, take up internships and volunteer work to understand the ecosystem, and master the ‘elevator pitch’. This will hold students in good stead in an increasingly competitive world.
Dr. Mayor conveyed his passion for the discovery aspect of science. “Like art, science is at the pinnacle of human creativity. It is a way of thinking, a way of questioning constructively, never accepting dogma in any form,” he said, adding that it brings knowledge to different fields: law, administration, technology, etc.
If science provides answers to the fundamental questions of life, then law is the framework that governs all aspects of human activity. “Law is a noble profession that will broaden your outlook, and give you a better understanding of global and national problems. All professions be it medicine, engineering or business are regulated by law,” said Suresh V. Nadagoudar, principal and chairman, University Law College, Bangalore University, in the first session of the day. He pointed out that many of our freedom fighters were graduates in law — Motilal Nehru, Jawaharalal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad and the architect of our Constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar, for instance.
He added that a career law will give people the opportunity to serve the people and society. “Law is one such profession where if you are competent and hard working, you can make a mark and serve those seeking justice. There is no substitution for hard work,” he said.
Mr. Nadagoudar helped students understand the many areas of specialisation in the private and public sector. “Earlier there were only two specialisations, criminal and civil law. But that is no longer the case,” he said. Those who have studied engineering, business management, B.Com, etc. can take up specialisations, he said, citing patent, copyright, international law, and other areas such medicine, health, etc. He also guided students on how they can become prosecutors and judges.