5 Alternative Careers in Emerging India

It’s the dreaded holidays season again. Especially if you are in your mid-to-late twenties, single and/or unemployed in India. Your whole extended family (all of the 16 Aunts and Uncles) will take it upon themselves to kill you with a relentless bombarding of every imaginable variation of these two questions:

a. Shaadi kab kar rahe ho? (When are you getting married?)
b. Apni zingadi ke sath kya kar rahe ho? (What are doing with your life?)

There’s nothing I can do about the first, but the second question is a bit easier to fend off.

See the reason you’re single is because “it was not you, it was him/her”.
But the reason you are not working is, well, you!

Give me a nod if you feel any of these things:

  • You have been through that cubicle life and found that that is just not you.
  • You want to build something, but don’t know how. Or what.
  • Conformity (the tendency to align your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with those around you) is worse than death to you.
  • You don’t think you fit in your social group.
  • You learn fast and are always hungry to learn more.

These are the signs that there is budding innovator/entrepreneur in you. So if you feel that the traditional 9-to-5 job is not for you; if the prescribed engineer-doctor-MBA nonsense fills you with dread, then here are 5 alternative career choices you can look to take in today’s modern India.


1. Writing/Blogging

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Obviously, I will start from here. Although I have only recently started writing professionally, I have been writing for pleasure for over 5 years.

There are loads of opportunities here: Content Writer, Copy Writer, Blogger, etc. All available as both full-time as well as freelance work. You, of course, need to be passionate about writing, but more importantly, you need to persistent.

Most employers will ask for samples of your writing. And they will expect you to have a regular blog. So get one. WordPress or Medium are the places to start.

If you didn’t attempt the essay-type answers in your school test, this is probably not for you. However, if you constantly judge people based on their grammar, there just might be a writer in you.

Suggested Reading: The First Steps to Successful Blogging by Jenna Britton


2. Interior Designing/Animation

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Computer graphics is a big thing nowadays. There’s a lot of demand for the artistic and the hardworking.

Animators create animation and visual effects for films, video games, television, mobile devices, and other forms of media using illustrations and software programs.

Interior Designers do the same but for your home. Both require extensive knowledge of specialized computer applications. And unlike writing, there are set courses for both these fields. So if you are interested, the first thing to do would be to enrol for them.

Suggested Reading: Job Profiles in Animation; and the A-Z of Interior Design.


3. YouTube/Podcasts/Standup

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The YouTube scene has exploded over the past couple of years. Channels like AIB and TVF have shown what the power of this video-hosting site is. And their brand of comedy is not the only thing that is big on the net.

From cookery channels to shows about science and history, from two minutes of absurdist humour to full-length documentaries, everything finds an audience on the net. So if you have any idea that would be best expressed through videos, this is the way to go.

Read: Qualities of Successful YouTube Channels.


Podcasts are just like YouTube, except that they offer only audio. Podcasts are really taking off in big cities where people have long commute to and from their offices. Sitting in a car/metro/bus, you can easily listen to your favourite shows.

Creating a good podcast requires great interviewing skills. If you are the kind of person who can talk to people freely, be funny, witty, and really get people to open up, this is your job. It’s like being an RJ.

If you are new to the world of podcasts, I strongly suggest listening to Srinivas Rao’s Unmistakable Creative. Or authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s Freakonomics Radio. They’ll change your life.

If you want to explore how to make podcasts, read Mashable’s very informative Guide to Making a Worthy Podcast.


And of course, Stand-up.

Kannan Gill, Biswa, Abhish Matthew, Vir Das, Zakir Khan, Nitin Gupta, etc, have all become household names now. They form a band of young stand-up comics who are driving the emerging humour sector of our country.

And if you are someone who adores people like Ricky Gervais, Loius CK, Chris Rock, Russel Peters, Robin Williams, Bill Cosby (the list goes on) — if you adore these people and what they do, then stand-up comedy maybe the way for you.

So find out which bar/cafe near you hosts open-mic sessions for amateur comics. Gen on that stage and test your material. Stop being the office funny guy, become a real comedian.

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Further reading? Just google any of the names I mentioned above and start watching their YouTube clips. Get back to me when you get back your life.


4. Event Management

Band Baja Baraat has done a pretty decent job of explaining to people what wedding planners do. I think that was the movie that really opened the Indian sensibilities to the concept of packaging and selling an event — just like you would any other product.

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If you are someone with great taste in design and fashion; if you get off organising and planning things (Monica Geller?); or if you think you have in you what it takes to make someone’s special day unforgettable, then this is your job.

Although there is no explicit degree you need to do this work, still a lot of universities have started to offer courses in Event Management. This is an industry that is growing way too fast!

Of all the career paths mentioned here, this is probably the only market that is nearing its saturation point. So if you want to get in the business, get in there now!


 5. Startups/Small Business

Until about five years ago, this industry was unheard of in India. The start-up culture has only now started to seep in earnestly into the Indian business psyche.

The phenomenal success of Paytm, Oyo Rooms, Ola, Zomato, etc, (and other even more successful, but less glamorous brands like InMobi, Freshdesk and Practo) have really opened our minds to the power of the niche markets.

If you are someone who loves taking risks, who likes creating stuff, who likes to build a team and lead it, then start-ups are a way to go. It doesn’t matter if you are offering a product or a service, as long as it is a solution to a problem your locality faces.

There is so much to talk about this that I will be writing another post altogether to cover all aspects of it. In the meantime, let Jon Westenberg tell you why It is the Greatest Time to Start a Business.

OLA CABS STARTUP TEAM


In all of the above fields — or any other non-traditional path you might choose for your career — you will be faced with three demons:

a. Detractors: those who will tell you, “you can’t!” Ignore them.
b. Financial Stress: the money will be hard in the early days, but you will need to fight through. You may not become Amazon or Google, but you’ll definitely make enough. So, persist!
c. Self-Doubt: crippling, suffocating self-doubt. In those moments, remind yourself why you are doing this. It is therefore imperative that you follow your heart’s passion.


If you want to find out what you really want to do in life, there is a simple test to find out. Close your eyes, and remember what you loved as a child. In most cases that’s the thing you’d want even now.

Or just imagine if you didn’t have to worry about earning, what you’d be doing?


So find your inner calling and go behind it. For a very long time, the situation in our country was not conducive to a lot of career options. But now times are changing. You have the chance of making it big, but you need to start early and persist hard.

I wish you luck with your life.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

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