There is no doubt that biotechnology is an excellent career choice due to its dynamic & interdisciplinary nature. More importantly, biotechnology holds the key to solve many problems of human society – medicine, agriculture & food security, environment, and energy. Several students opt for the biotechnology career path after class 12. But, the problem arises when students face problems finding jobs and for higher studies (or research) after pursuing biotechnology at the undergraduate level. Many students (and parents) develop unrealistic expectations due to lack of information and unawareness. So, we will try to provide the real picture of the common problems faced by biotechnology students in India and how to get around them.
The core biotechnology field is a hardcore research-based field. It’s a very practical-oriented field and demands extensive hands-on training. The job opportunities in core biotechnology are available in two main verticals –
- R&D in Biological Sciences
- Industrial Process
Don’t assume that a Bachelor degree in Biotechnology will make you Laboratory Scientist. A higher degree (Masters and PhD) are almost mandatory if you are keen to continue in the core biotechnology field. Read more about the Biotechnology Career Scopes after Class 12 and Job Opportunities in India. Otherwise, you can explore the alternative careers after bachelor in biotechnology.
In this post, Ankita Murmu, who earlier wrote about B.Tech. Biotechnology Career Path in India: A Student’s Point of View, will discuss the five common problems faced by biotechnology students in India.
5 Common Problems Faced by Biotechnology Students in India
by Ankita Murmu
The problems that the Indian students face in the field of Biotechnology are numerous! Being a student of B.tech Biotechnology, I too encountered some of them. Because of the leading IT generation students often tend to have fewer hopes in other areas like Biotechnology. That’s where they are mistaken! Talking to my juniors, other fellow mates and based on my experience five common problems faced by the Biotechnology students in India are:-
Many of the students agree to pursue Biotechnology without having a full-fledged knowledge about it. That’s where it takes a U-turn. Unaware of its usefulness arises a lot of questionnaires in the minds of the students. Though the 12th std Biology book of CBSE board adds a chapter of Biotechnology, there is far more than to be known. When I first heard the concept of cloning, it mesmerized me to a very great extent and seemed very easy. But all the concepts and the molecular biology behind it started making sense once I had the subjects during my semesters. I learned that biotechnology was a lot more than cloning! Students are finding it difficult to accept this.
The perception that Biotechnology has no scopes in India has been in existence for a long time. Many of my friends, considering myself too have thought about it at least once in our degree. India lacks behind many instruments and facilities required in a lab. But companies like Biocon has really made their stand. All of my doubts started to get clarified as I got to learn about this field more and more. So, proper research is required before you criticize this field. Now, I can boldly say that India does have scopes for Biotechnology students.
Salary packages in a job
When it comes to salary packages for freshers, all of us want higher packages. Being an undergraduate student, I know how important it is. What I have been hearing from my seniors is that Biotech companies do not provide good packages to freshers at starting. Because of this students start regretting pursuing Biotechnology. They think companies under Government sector pay better in this field. Well, this is always not the case. If you really do well in interviews and, got a very good grip on your basics your starting salary may surprise you! Companies like GSK, Biocon do provide higher packages, even to the freshers.
The brain-drain concept
I have heard many of my friends and seniors telling me that they want to go for higher studies abroad because of fewer scopes of Biotechnology in India. The perception of students is that doing a Ph.D. and publishing papers abroad is going to help them reach greater heights. They can make their well-established career abroad. Though in India few universities and colleges are weak in their Biotechnology curriculum, the performance in the field has increased over the years. A lot many institutes have been indulged in research and working towards making Biotechnology a worthy field in India.
Dealing with Mathematics
Before joining the course of B.tech Biotechnology, I was not aware that Mathematics is also a requirement during my tenure. It was not a big deal for me but, few of my friends who were from non-biology background had found it difficult to cope up with. Mathematics made their blood run cold. The best way to overcome this is through practice as it is said: “Practice makes a man perfect”.
India is a developing country and money is the priority of many people. The educational and research institutions are not that well equipped and students face a lot of problems because of this. Unless one doesn’t qualify for competitive exams in India, one cannot land up in a good institute. In the majority of the cases, that doesn’t happen. Funding becomes a problem and students have to re-think about taking this career option.
The conclusion by Ankita on the problems faced by biotechnology students in India
Yes, India somewhat lacks behind in making biotechnology an emerging field but as many developments have been coming into the light, the day is not so far that India would stand up in this field too. As far as the problems are concerned, there is always a solution to every problem and, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
How to Get Around The Problems Faced in the Biotechnology Field
In India, more or less any technical degree (from a private institute) will make you shell out INR 3 – 7 Lacs (for 4 years). So, I can really understand the frustration and disappointment when you don’t bag a decent salary package after Bachelors. But, this scenario is applicable to other streams too.
According to a 2016 report by job skills credentialing company Aspire Minds, nearly 80% of engineering graduates in India are not employable. Most of them are forced to take up jobs in non-engineering fields or remain unemployed.
Biotechnology is a very complex field and requires intelligence, creativity, and more importantly, patience & perseverance. You need to remain updated and aggressively seek opportunities to gain hands-on experience and training.
For instance, in the IT sector, the current job market requires higher levels of leading-edge skills like cloud analytics, robotics, process automation, and so on, and engineering graduates of the day do not always come qualified. The true problem lies in the huge skills-gap.
Two major factors are responsible for this worrying trend. One, the ease of securing approval from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to set up engineering colleges has led to the mushrooming of institutes, many of which do not have the right faculty or the curriculum to train students. Second, the courses being taught are not in tune with the industry’s requirements, both in product manufacturing and services sectors. Read more about the “Worthless Degrees and Jobless Graduates” article on The Hindu – Business Line.
So, what to do in such a scenario? Here are my suggestions.
Before opting for Biotechnology (after Class 12), understand what the field is all about. Don’t jump into the field just because it’s of the buzz and hype. Learn about the major biotechnology domains and career scopes.
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Choose a good college, not necessarily a top college. Check the credentials, faculty members, infrastructure, industry links, location etc. You won’t get too far by having theoretical knowledge.
Focus on gaining industry training and doing internships from the very beginning. Technical skills are very important in the core biotechnology sector. Check out the list of top internships and industry training for biotechnology students in India.
Don’t ignore the soft skills. They are as important as technical skills. Check out the Online Courses for Resume Writing, Interview Prep, and Soft Skills.
Always keep upgrading by attending seminars, webinars, and online courses. Here is a curated list of best online courses for biotechnology and life sciences.
If you are aiming for a research career, higher studies (Masters and/or Ph.D.) is a must. You have to be patient in this particular field.
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