Interview: George Jacob(ECE-2017)

George is currently enrolled in the Young India Fellowship Programme.
What is YIF?

YIF is a program offered by Ashoka University, that was started to begin a diverse peer group all across the country from different backgrounds of education. It put you through an experience exposed to wide variety of subjects – international relations, law, arts, economics, urbanisation, etc. The subjects are taught by renowned faculty from all across the world.

What career path does one take after pursuing YIF?

Students who come to YIF are from all backgrounds – economics, engineering, arts. Some of them continue in the same fields, and there are others who change completely and get into writing, media houses, economics, development sector, policy making. What you take out of the program and where you go next entirely depend on what you want to do and what you want to explore.

Why did you choose YIF?

The program makes room for interdisciplinary learning. Some of the students have come to change career trajectories, ex. from engineering to development field, while some of them are clueless. YIF helps them figure out their way. You develop a very different way of thinking and problem approach that you don’t get through schooling or 4 years of college. You’re exposed to a lot by virtue of the people you talk to – professors, guest lecturers, mentors, classmates, alumni, etc. Your way of approaching things is different and changes all together when you study subjects like anthropology, art history and for me it was a way of getting a holistic set of skills, a new perspective. It’s not going to help with technical masters immediately, but it will help with life skills in the long run. I don’t want to work purely in the technical field, I want a more interdisciplinary job and the fellowship fit in with that quite well.

What is the application procedure like?

The application process happens in two rounds – December and February/March. The application us free and it consists of 6 essay questions along with question about your academic credentials and personal details. This is followed up by a telephonic interview and a personal interview. There is a basic set of questions to verify your details, to find out why you applied and what your inclinations are.

What does YIF look for?

There isn’t really have a specific profile. You need to be academically qualified, able to handle a hectic schedule, and be ready to learn and try. Some people know what they want to do, some have no clue. They’re looking for people who are curious and willing to learn. There is no set profile for people coming in. You just know what you want to gain from the fellowship and why you want to join. They want someone who’s exploring what they want to do. It all depends on you as an individual. You don’t have to have things figure out . All you need is an initiative within you.

How does YIF provide alternate options for students who don’t want to continue in their field?

YIF gives you a platform to explore and find out what you like and don’t like depending on peers, faculty, courses, projects, etc. The guest lectures are amazing. Professors come from across the world, and there is so much learning to be done. The alumni base is also very strong. People have made the switch from subjects like engineering to creative writing. I know someone who has made the switch from economics to dance.

You need to be willing to take the leap. For example, if you want to go from engineering to development, you need to go ahead and apply to organisations. You need to take a head start.

How easy/difficult is it to change fields?

It depends on the field and the learning curve depends entirely on you. It’s a very personal quality – how comfortable you are in situations, how you deal with decisions.

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