SEEMA WADHWA wonders why ART students are no longer the poor cousins of science and commerce students.
It is telling when world’s best IT firms including Samsung and Microsoft vie to recruit students from an institute, no not, engineers, not even coders from IIT but designers from the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmadabad. In 2015, during a campus recruitment drive, a NID student was offered Rs 72 lakh package by a Ludhiana based company. Another eight students from textile designing course also bagged pay packages of Rs 48 lakhs per annum. A couple of years ago, nearly 80 per cent graduates of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Delhi were placed with an average annual salary package of Rs 4 lakhs.
Neither NID nor NIFT are your average liberal art institutions. And yet, they very much come under the gamut of the art field which is now once again in vogue across India. Colleges are seeing an increasing demand from students in the Art field which was once upon a time perceived as the backbenchers’ favourite with little scope of career advancement leave alone a field that attracted whopping pay packages.
Yet, since the last few years, against the general notion of Arts being a third preference and slow on the job market front, the job opportunities, independent ventures and hefty pay cheques in the industry tell a story otherwise.
Dr. Lily Bhushan, principal, K.E.S Shroff College, Kandivali says that recently there has been a revision in the Arts’ syllabus that has helped reduce the gap between the industry and academics constructively. Arts have always been a popular choice outside the city and now is picking up rapidly among Mumbai students too. According to her, 2016 witnessed an increased number of applications for Arts, to the extent that they’ve applied for an additional division for the coming year!
Students in the Arts field are upbeat too. Meher Gala, a FYJC Arts student at Mithibai College, Vile Parle who secured 88% in her SSC board exams says: “Arts was my first choice because foreign languages interest me and I aspire to take up teaching or become a foreign language translator. My choice was well received and supported by my family.”
Speaking of a student’s career decisions and influences, Nisha Nair, a Navi Mumbai counsellor says that students are now increasingly taking their career decisions and parents have a secondary voice, “In today’s world, with the availability of information, most of the students make their own career choices. But still there is parental influence to some extent. Friends also play an integral part now as most students want to be with their friends.”
She further added that due to the availability of information, students are more up to date with the technological advancements and development in the fields of their interest hence the parental interference is relatively less.
Akshay Iyer, a research analyst in financial markets and an MA student at Mumbai University agrees. “I think with the democratisation of multiple fields such as media, fine arts, branding all coming under the larger umbrella, avenues have certainly widened. The way Raghuram Rajan’s exit was covered across media, I think even Economics has the potential to become a subject of national interest.”
Sharing the growth in job opportunities for Arts students, Pearl Pastakia, Head of Department, English literature, St Xavier’s, Mumbai says that many of her students have taken up content and publishing vocation due to internet boom.
Other than content and publishing; law, business administration, journalism, teaching and theatre have also been popular career options among Arts students. Reminiscing one of her student’s experience, she told us how he pooled in like-minded people from the entertainment and theatre industry to reach to less privileged individuals through the medium of entertainment. According to her, in the long run, Arts students are often seen using self expression not only to make a good living but they also possess a strong desire to give back to the society.
In terms of financial packages, a Mass Media graduate and a social media executive from a renowned media firm said that things were looking up.”While the starting salary is decent, somewhere between about 2-3.5 lakhs per annum, within a year of the job, you see yourself growing faster than another industry on the opportunities front and monetarily, earning between 4-7 lakhs p.a given the annual appraisals and increments.”
Adds Shamik Vora, Founder & CEO, HR Fidelity Consulting Services LLP said, “Job opportunities for Arts Graduates has gone up in the last few years owing to specialized start-ups and businesses cutting across industries increasing their digital footprints. They are looking for more and more content writers, graphic designers, photographers, user experience designers, Social media managers etc, requirement for graphic designers are up by 25% from 2013 level and content writer requirement has shot up by 45% in the same period.”
What are the career options available to Arts graduates? Vora says: “Communication – Communication – Communication. Be it copy or visual will offer largest number of career opportunities to students from the field of arts. Personalization will be the key theme for consumer industry and hence there will be a huge demand for people from copy and visual background. Same way there is enough demand for personal branding and employer branding or simply company branding on social media.”
Other than conventional cubicle jobs, numerous arts graduates are seen starting their own venture through blogging, YouTube, social media consulting, filmmaking among other things. These ventures run on a simple business model to create content that sells well enough to generate revenue. A modern form of entrepreneurship, these ventures work sans ‘levels of management’ and exemplify the optimum usage of technology.