As featured on 'Expert Speak', a column published on alternative Mondays, in the Education Plus - The Hindu.
Q Can you mention the most common mistakes that an entrepreneur makes during the early stages of the journey? (Deepti Garg) A

I would rate these as the most common mistakes (sometimes, are challenges too):
- Finding the right co-founder(s)
- Over-estimating what can be achieved and under-estimating the time it takes
- Budgeting

Q Is competition all that important? My mentors have told me that I should be aware about what others are doing. However, I believe that monitoring a competitor’s activity leads to following their footsteps. The USP of my brand is getting lost in this. Please advise. (Ayushi Sharma) A

Being aware of the competition is one of the many things to be tracked by an entrepreneur. I would advise you to study and be aware of the competition and convert their weaknesses into your strengths. USP is important, but building sustainable competitive advantage is even more important. For every company, irrespective of industry and geography, customer experience is the key starting point for a sustainable advantage.

Q Is it essential to give my customer a receipt after a purchase is made? I have not registered my company but I sell products by word of mouth. Please guide. Can this lead to any legal issues? (Nishith) A

Yes! If you want to build a long lasting company, my sincere advice is to start taking care of all the regulatory/compliance requirements.

Q I have heard a lot about making direct eye contact with an employer during interviews. It is very difficult for me since I lose my flow of thought in the process of concentrating on the eyes. I want to understand from you if this is essential? (Shubh) A

It is important to build a level of trust by having the right amount of eye contact. But if you become conscious of this fact, practice in front of a mirror. Just be yourself and show your true self. All the best!

Q I am employed for the past 3 years and I know that I fail to be a team worker. I cannot blindly trust my co-worker to execute a certain task. My intention to get involved in the task is only because I want the end result to be phenomenal. However, my colleagues take it as interfering and we tend to have differences. What should I do? (Rashmi Ranjan) A

I assume you are able to complete your tasks first before you try to get involved in other team member’s tasks.
Communication is the key. Having an open chat is the starting point. If other team members understand and relate to your involvement, they will appreciate.

Q I have one-year experience in an automobile company. I had always wished to take up UPSC exam. But I now plan to pursue an executive degree in Public Administration. Please advise. (Lokesh) A

The UPSC commission selections are mostly based on the results of written exams and interviews. The educational degree(s) usually make up only a basic eligibility criterion. I would advise you to look at the eligibility criterion for the degree you wish to pursue.

Q I have completed B.A. in Economics and have about two years of work experience. I have also pursued a Master’s in Psychology and have excellent communication and social skills. Recently, I quit my job to follow my dreams. Any tips that would help me identify the path I should take now? (Andrew Cyprian Braphy) A

You need to spend time on getting clarity on what greatness in life means to you. While you are working on getting clarity, you can still work. I would recommend that you cross-check on what you think your strengths are and what your friends, family and well-wishers think your strengths are. Play to your strengths and focus on your life's goal.

Q I am in my twenties and wish to take the risk of starting up a company. If all does not go well, will I be in a position to recover debts and go back to the corporate world when I am 30? I am trying to assess if it is worth the risk. (Sunaina) A

Here is an excellent definition of entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life in a way most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life in a manner most people can’t. My recommendation is that you identify your strengths, focus on the fit of the product/service to the market and get the support of a team. Focus on building customers one by one.
The experience of creating, managing and growing a startup is useful and valuable — especially as India is on the verge of a new age entrepreneur revolution.

Q As an entrepreneur, have you ever felt that your life would have been less stressful if you had been a senior level employee at a company? (Raman) A

Both entrepreneurs and executives have their fair share of 'stress' and 'pressure of performance'. Stress is imposed by worrying about the possibilities — good and bad. The goal is to put ourselves in a place where we do things because we want to and not because we have to.

Q Does being proficient in a foreign language add value to my CV when I look for opportunities abroad? (Sadhve Ayyar) A

Yes. Knowing a foreign language is always an asset. Choose the language taking into account the industry in which you want to build your career and the broader global growth opportunities.

Q I got placed in several companies during campus recruitments, but could not join any of them due to an accident. It has been two years now, and I have not received a call from any company. What should I do? (Pavithra S) A

I would advise you to start with an internship. While interning, you can explore the option of taking up a course or a certificate programme.

Q I have sound technical knowledge and efficiently perform the tasks given to me. However, my academic grades are not good due to which I get negative marking. How do I overcome this? (Evanth Jai) A

Academic grades are only one part of the selection process. There are several companies that focus on the ability of the employee to perform and deliver results. Focus on your strength of knowledge and impress the interviewer.

Q How do you define “traction? for a start-up? (Pooja) A

For a start-up, traction is achieved when it starts getting customers and is able to retain most. Define who the customers are and keep adding them consistently. Also, remember to deliver a great customer service experience so that they do not get a reason to leave.

Q One important lesson you have learnt that would benefit others. (Annie) A

Having an open mind and willingness to learn are the key aspects of growth. As a Buddhist proverb goes “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.? Life presents an opportunity to learn at each step!

Q I am in the final year of Mechanical Engineering. I wish to start a business related to my course in my home town, Tuticorin. I wish to take loan from a bank. What is the procedure to be followed? I also wish to know the government policies, subsidies to start an SSI (estimation Rs. 25 lakhs). (Paul J) A

The best way is to find out from the banks and compare. Also, you can explore other funding avenues such as family, friends and crowd sourcing platforms.

Q I just got placed at IIT Kharagpur for Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. It is a B.Tech – M.Tech dual degree programme. What are the future prospects of this course? My real interest lies in automobiles and mechanical. (Vishnu Narasimhan) A

IIT Kharagpur is an excellent school, very well known internationally. Upon completion of your programme, you will be able to pursue a top technical career, you could chose to do a PhD at the world’s best universities or join a renowned MBA programme. It will depend on how you have changed after the years spent at the IIT. It is even possible that the discipline you learn there becomes your true passion. So go for it. All the best!

Q I have completed B.Tech. in Civil Engineering. I plan to join the Institute of Metro and Rail Technology. This is not a recognised course, but is industry oriented! Should I opt for it? (Armaan Motaria) A

It really depends on what you want to do. If you have decided to pursue this programme, it is probably because you believe that it would help you achieve something and it could be a familiar institute for your future employer. Your decision really depends on your goals and career objectives.

Q What is the scope of doing an internship online? I wish to pursue a project, during my college. (Nabee Ifral) A

The world today is used to working and collaborating online; so the earlier you learn, the more opportunities you will have. You can definitely pursue an internship online. But for that you need to be self-disciplined and do the job professionally, as if you were in the office. Through an internship, you always have something to learn.

Q I am pursuing a marketing internship with a reputed organisation. The work I get is mainly clerical and there is less scope of learning. I wish to widen my work knowledge and utilise my time in the best possible manner. What is it that I can do from my end? (Prashanth T) A

You can always widen your knowledge at work or after work. At work, interacting and communicating with your peers and seniors is very important. You learn a lot through such interactions and knowledge sharing. You might even have suggestions to make to the team and also gain valuable insights. After work, you can read and practise.

Q My son has completed his B.E. He is in a dilemma whether to opt for an internship or a job or higher studies. His goal is to be in a managerial position five years down the line. (Rajarajeswaran) A

It is hard to predict the future because you will always find counter-examples to what I recommend. If your son is interested in technical management, higher studies will certainly help him further his overall know-how and get a better understanding. If he is more interested in business, then he can choose to do an MBA. Either ways, I will always recommend a relevant internship, as it gives hands-on experience.

Q I have completed my MBA in finance and am employed. I wish to venture into online retail on my own. I am a little doubtful about the product to choose, how to attract investors and how to overcome competition. Please guide. (VidyaSagar) A

What matters the most, I think, is to define the market problem you want to solve and then to find the solution to it. I feel, the right way to proceed further is to begin by doing market research, competitive analysis, which will help you define what you want to provide, and draw up your go-to market strategy. It is important that you have gained enough clarity with these before reaching out to investors. To be convincing to potential investors, you must be clear with everything they want to see, ask and know before investing in your idea. You can then focus on the financial part.

Q What are the essential qualities that a company looks for in a candidate, while evaluating him/her for employment? How can I make my profile suitable for a company and stand out from the rest of the applicants? (Pavan T) A

Very hard to generalise. For me, it is 1. Quality, excellence and passion; 2. Suitability for the job (capability); 3. Clarity and communication; 4. Honesty and hard-work. Now, if you want your profile to stand out, focus on your strengths and present your extreme skill or a wonderful experience in a short punch line.

Q I want some guidance as to how I can prepare myself for a quick interview. How do I leave a mark in a short span of time? (Fahad) A

Try to present yourself and be jovial and confident. Work out your introductory tagline at home. It shouldn’t last more than 15 seconds. Nothing is more boring than meeting sleepy students who stare blankly at the exhibitor and have no idea why they showed up at this particular stand. Exhibitors get tired and might not even listen. Explain and express clearly who you are, what you want and be ready with a follow-up by taking their name card and leaving yours. Think about acting fast and not wasting time. Leave an impression with your joviality, skills, clarity and readiness.

Q I'm doing B.Tech and I wish to do MBA after graduation. I have received an internship offer in business development field this summer. Will a non-technical internship help? (Ayushi) A

Choosing an internship is part of long-term career planning. Business in general and management in particular are about human behaviour and relationships.
If you feel the opportunity you have in hand is a step in the direction of your preferred career path, it will definitely be of help.

Q I'm a B.Tech third-year student, specialising in computer science. I am in a dilemma whether to take up an internship offer from ONGC or look for one in a startup. (Akshay Jain) A

If the internship area is in the core of your strength, go for it. Two areas you need to pay attention to in deciding which internship offer to choose: learning opportunity/potential and the manager who will guide you.

Q I'm a first-year management student. I will get an option to choose my specialisation only in the second year. Does an internship hold any relevance if I take it up in the first year? (Moksh Garg) A

Internship is another word for 'on-the-job-training'. Interns are guided by an experienced team member and/or manager. You could try to get an internship in your preferred field of study and get the first hand experience. It should help you understand if your area of interest and skills/expertise match.

Q When is the right time to establish a startup? How many years of work experience in a certain industry will help me start my own business? (Piyush) A

Anytime is a good time to start a new business. Prior experience and exposure to the industry in which you want to start your venture can be of help. There is no thumb rule which says one must start a company only after getting experience. Start with ground work and understand the needs and market opportunities, talk to experienced people in the industry and validate your ideas/thoughts. Starting is easy, sustaining is the key and making it viable is the name of the game.

Q I have a B.E. in Electronics and Instrumentation. I am working with a public sector company. I am highly interested in the aeronautics sector. Do aeronautics companies employ instrumentation graduates? (Narendran) A

I believe all top companies always look for multifaceted employees. Keep on looking at job boards and job adverts. I would also recommend you to look for certificate/diploma programmes for instrumentation in the aeronautics sector. This will improve the chances of realising your goals.

Q I have just completed my B.Tech and have got a good offer from a reputed company. I also got selected by a top U.S. university for MBA. Now, I am in a dilemma. Please advise. (Mounika Chowdary) A

If you are referring to any of the Ivy League schools or the top 20 MBA schools in U.S., you should take that up, as it will help you create a base.
MBA programmes from top business schools in U.S. will cost around $150,000-$200,000. Ensure the programme is in your area of interest and you have the funding sources identified.

Q Is it important for a student to have a LinkedIn profile? How would it help my career? (Shehnaz) A

LinkedIn is now the universally accepted online resume and/or visiting card. LinkedIn helps you build a good network which can be helpful for your future. Also it enables organisations to understand the network of the person/candidate in question. Go ahead and create a LinkedIn profile. Don’t forget to update it at regular intervals!

Q I gave up my job within three months. Can I avoid including it in my resume? (Poonam) A

If you have a valid reason for leaving the job, don’t hesitate to include it in your resume.

Q Is hotel management a good and safe career option for girls? (Divya) A

Definitely. Every sector which aligns with your strengths and passion can be a good and safe career choice, once you take care of the basic checks.

Q While it is difficult to get capital to run a business, it is even more critical to be able to monitor, utilise and manage the capital. Please advise on how to go about planning in a better way? (Anoop) A

As you have rightly identified, the key to running a successful business is managing cash flow. Create a simple Excel sheet to track the following on a monthly basis for a full financial year — cash in bank, cash from operations (revenues credited to bank and not order book) and monthly expenses (direct and indirect).

Q I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in commerce. I wish to do either MBA or M.S. in Finance. I recently came to know about a dual degree in MBA and MS. Please advise. (Navin) A

If you are able to find a college/university which offers a dual degree in your areas of interest, you should go for it! Don’t forget that you are taking up double the work load. Prepare yourself mentally and physically, before taking up the course.

Q I am a civil engineer and I wish to pursue a diploma in Interior Design. How will it help me? (Abirami) A

If you are still at the early stages or only a few years into your career, having a second specialisation will definitely help. The world is moving to ‘specialist generalists’ — people who are specialists, but are able to relate and understand the importance of multi-disciplinary approach.

Q I am negotiating with an angel investor to raise capital for my start-up. Is it essential to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that they don’t copy my idea? (Pooja J) A

I would advise you to check if the idea is really unique. To do this, you need to check the patents database available for free online. If the person(s) you are seeking capital from is a true angel investor, they will not be interested in copying the idea. Not to discourage you, ideas are only the beginning. The name of the game is execution. Make sure you do your homework on the uniqueness of the idea. Most well known, seasoned angels/VCs will not be open to signing NDAs.

Q Every ‘.com’ domain name that I try to buy is already registered. Will buying ‘.in’ and ‘net’ have a lower impact? (Ankit Dhinga) A

Though a ‘dot com’ domain is important, more relevant is your target audience. If your focus and target market is India, a ‘dot in’ domain will help. Businesses and brands are built over a period of time. Name is just the beginning and the work your company does will translate into goodwill and ‘name’ for the company.

Q I have been trying to find a job for the past eight months. Despite my qualification I can’t find the right opportunity. What is the best way to search for a job? (Rahul C) A

Do your skills match your area of interest? My recommendation is to find a company which matches your skills. Start as an intern if you have to. When your interest leads to your profession, you will enjoy your work. You will do things because you want to and not because you have to.

Q How do I build a good strong team for my project, while keeping costs low? (Srikant Jaiswal) A

Not everything is counted in monetary terms. Find the right people — who have the same goals, aspirations and thought processes, as yours. Ensure that everyone is aligned to the common goal and that the rules of engagement are clear from day one.

Q Should I take up an internship with a start-up or should I pursue it with big brands only? (Jivesh Singh Gahlawat, Student) A

Start-ups are said to be the best learning grounds. Since a start-up is in the early phase of its lifecycle and explores new avenues regularly, interns have many opportunities to learn. Every day is a challenge for a start-up; the way they survive and grow day-by-day is a great learning in itself. You get to learn to think innovatively, handle crisis situations and imbibe leadership skills. Pursuing an internship with established organisations adds value to your resume and gives you wider scope for understanding key business functionalities such as process, operations, etc. You should choose an internship which fits your personality, ambition and goals, and resist taking up internships based only on stipend or workplace benefits.

Q Do I need to pursue an internship on the lines of my study? ( Neha Goje, Student) A

An internship is your practical classroom. You get a chance to put into practice what you have learnt within the four walls of a classroom. It can strengthen your understanding and help you support your study. It is suggested that you pursue an internship along the lines of your study initially, as it would help you build a career on those lines. On the other hand, an internship in a different field will also be useful if you are passionate about it. It definitely helps you broaden your horizon.

Q How helpful can an internship be for my career? (Ravi Kiran G, Student) A

An internship is not only a nice addition to your resume, it is also a ticket to a successful career. An internship helps you get insights into what is in store for your career. The contacts made during an internship can prove to be helpful in future. It is the greatest learning phase in one’s life, for the experience stays life-long.

Q I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s and wish to make a career plan that will help me move ahead. What is the best way to go about it? (Chandrakanth. D, Student) A

It is good to know that you have started planning ahead. There are multiple avenues open in front of you. First of all, answer the question: "where you want to see yourself in the future?" Have a clear picture in your mind about your goals and aspirations. Then make a plan which will take you towards your destination. While planning, remember to include important factors like passion, feasibility, opportunity, etc. No matter what you decide to settle on, remember to give your 100%. Good luck!

Q I am pursuing MBA and have to pay my education loan. Since time is a constraint, what is the best way in which I can avail myself of financial aid? (Anusha. M, Student) A

Keeping in mind your busy study schedule, freelancing would be a good idea to explore. As you get to make some money and add on to your experience, along with your study, you could freelance based on your passion. However, you should be confident about balancing work with study. As MBA is your main focus, don’t let work adversely affect your academics. If you can balance both, then go ahead!

Q What is the value of an internship, and how important is it for my career? (Chandra Moleesawra Reddy Yerram) A

Sincere and focused interns are priceless for organizations. Today, organizations evaluate employees basis work ethics, values and integrity. An internship will teach you all the above values and give you an understanding of organizational functioning. Always remember that the subject of internship is not as important as the values you imbibe during the tenure. Go beyond your work scope and learn as much as you can; for your learnings will stay with you for a lifetime.

Internship is like a bridge between education and employment. Your course curriculum introduces you to various theories and concepts. Internship facilitates understanding how they are useful on job, in real world. It provides an opportunity to implement what you learnt during the course. It exposes you to work environment and various job roles related to your field and provides an insight into expectations employers have from employees. Utilise this opportunity well; you will find it helpful to crack job interviews.

Q I'm currently pursuing my third year bachelor's and wish to enroll for an internship. What are the various ways to get an internship? (Vignesh.S) A

The best way to get in an internship is via an intermediary, which in your case can be internship portals like and others. You can register with these portals and get regular updates on internship opportunities. Alternatively, you can also try for referrals from professionals, who can refer you for an internship with organizations.

Q I am a 3rd year student of IIT- Bombay, interested in working in the supply chain of leading FMCGs. Could you please suggest how to proceed to achieve my ambition? (Chinmay Das) A

Supply Chain is a very specialized domain and requires excellent skills. In your case, you have two options:

a) You can pursue a course in Supply Chain along with your B.Tech. Complete both and then directly apply to FMCG companies via their websites. You need to write a strong statement of purpose for taking up Supply Chain after doing B.Tech.

b) Otherwise, after your B.Tech you can do your MBA from a reputed institute and then you can easily get into Supply Chain. Also you not only grow your chances for opportunities with FMCG but also with consulting companies, in the supply chain domain.

Q I have just completed my board exams and will join college soon. But I am confused regarding the stream of study. While I have always been good in science, I like literature and arts. Could you please suggest what would be the best career option for me? Thanks. (Priya Srivastav ) A

You need to ask yourself if you like or love literature and arts. When passion is involved the road to excellence is clear. When one does things they love to do, countless hours spent to learn and excel in the chosen area, looks like seconds. Follow your heart and you will find success.

Q I am in my final year of B.Tech. I have a job offer in hand. Also I have recently got an internship opportunity with a reputed organization. What will be the best decision for my career? (Pallavi Nair) A

If the job offer you have is in the area of your interest and strength, go for it! If not, it will be just a chore and you won't be able to enjoy and learn. The question you need to ask is - whether the experience you will get in the job or internship, be aligned to your long term career goal. Career is like a decathlon event - you will need to learn and excel at multiple skills, not just the subject knowledge - but application, communication, interpersonal skills, leadership etc.

Q It's difficult to start a business, because of the risk of failing. Could you tell me a low-investment, high returns plan? I am a dedicated person, and a Marketing and sales guy. (Kaushik Jha) A

No risk, no reward. Looks like you are actually asking on how to leverage on your knowledge and in that context no-investment needed. Time and mind space are the most important investments one makes, yet we do not value them. Find your core strength and play to your strengths. I am sure you will be successful.

Q I am a pre-final year undergraduate majoring in Materials Science and Engineering from IIT Kanpur. I am interested in doing winter internship in the field of semiconductor materials and devices/IC fabrication for 4 weeks. How do I go about it? (Ankit) A

You can start your research using industry association websites like and find out which company fits your areas of interest. Write to them and you will be able to secure an internship. Good luck!

Q My son is in his 2nd year of mechanical engineering and has a keen interest in the automobile industry. He wishes to start gathering practical experience in this field in order build his career. Could you please guide him as to what he should do to pursue his dream? (Sofia Ansari) A

He can start with internship in one of the many automobile companies. I would recommend using the internship opportunity as a stepping stone to zero in, on the specialization/area which matches his core skills. This should help him set the stage for a great career.

Q I am a third year Mechanical Engineering Student-M.Tech Integrated Advanced Manufacturing. I wish to pursue my higher education. But I am confused whether to do MS or MBA. I am interested in Supply Chain Management, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma. Please guide. (Balaji G) A

If you are already working towards an integrated Masters (M.Tech), it maybe worthwhile to explore MBA after getting a few years of on the job training/experience.

Q I have an idea in mind and wish to venture forth with it. What are the important aspects that should be factored in while starting up? (Ritika Tandon, Employed) A

There are various factors that need to be ensured before starting-up - prior experience in the field, ability to identify gaps in the market, co-founders/partners, support from family. Factor in essentials like how you are going to reach your customer, how revenues are generated and return on investment for your long term planning. In order to focus in the right direction, you would definitely need – practice, patience and perseverance. These qualities will help you handle difficult situation.

Also, advice from a right mentor would be essential at this point in time; for he/she would be able to help you navigate your way ahead. All said and done, have faith in your idea, act on it, before somebody else makes it their dream. All the best!

Q I am a Software Engineer, with 3 years of work experience. I wish to start my own venture? Do you think I should gain more experience or is it the right time? (Sancheta, Employed) A

Congratulations, for your determination to start-up. We need young entrepreneurs like you to take the country ahead. I was 24, when I founded my first company, and was fresh out of college. I would say, that experience always counts, ups and downs are a part and parcel of starting-up.

There is no set time as the right time. If you have conviction in your idea, you can start NOW. Just be sure that you have done your homework before you embark on the journey. Preparation is key to success. Remember that you have to do away with the monthly pay-check and the stability of a job. Good luck!

Q I have pursued a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I have been working on a project since a year now and am ready for launch. Is it the right time to get seed capital funding ? (Divya Agarwal) A

Congratulations for your determination to start-up. At this point in time, I would advice you to have a prototype of your business model ready; for that will help the investors understand your business idea. In case you do not have a prototype, you can actually go for an Incubator program under any reputed institute like IIT.

These are the two sure-shot methods of getting capital. Also you can approach institutes that give grants like TDB etc. All the best!

Q I am a final year MBA student, specializing in Marketing. How exactly can I get crowd funding if my idea is not out of the box? (Neha Basu) A

The appeal of your idea would be based on its wow factor. An idea can be interesting, even if it is not out of the box. Crowd Funding institutions like Kickstarter, Angel List, Wishberry can be of great help. Here you can also test the feasibility and get traction for your business idea.

Q I have no relevant background in the field of investments, however I am interested in the same and have a good understanding of the financial market. Its tough to start my career in the finance field because my study is not related to it, since I am a student of fine arts. Please advice. (Pranay G) A

Since you are from a non-finance background, you need to establish your understanding of the field with organizations. Since finance is a specialized domain, and establishing a career in investment requires sound knowledge. It is advisable to get some specialized certification course in finance related stream, as that would help you pursue a career on your chosen field.

You can also look into an internship in finance/investment as it will help you gain hands-on experience in the field. This way you not only get practical exposure but also gather relevant experience, which will help you find a suitable job in this field.

Q What is the right age for a person to become an entrepreneur? Also, what is the most important thing needed to start a venture? (Nirupama, Student) A

I am not sure if there is any such thing as right age. I have known entrepreneurs who have started in their teens as well as after retirement! The most important requirement before you start on the entrepreneurial road is having the clarity and preparation. Ideas are important, but execution is the key. In today's hyper competitive and instant gratification society, you have to have the ability to adapt and learn on building a sustainable company which can stand the test of time!

Q I just started my own venture, but the investors have backed out of my project. I don't have the courage to venture forth, but that would mean a huge loss. What should I do? (Chinmay, Student) A

I can empathize with the difficult situation you find yourself in. Review your investments in terms of time and money and see if you can make it worthwhile for yourself to continue on your entrepreneurial dream. If yes, you need to carry on and finish the minimum viable stage, create revenues which can pay for your basic costs at least. Prepare yourself and find the right team and right investors.

Q I am looking at establishing a start-up but am searching for suitable team members. Is money the only thing that motivates an employee to work with a start-up? (Nagarjuna. D, Student) A

People who like start-ups are driven by challenges. Having said that, start-ups should be able to provide for the basics during the early years. Otherwise, you will find yourself dealing with a lot of talented people but who may be just moonlighting.

Q My friend and I have started our venture, but he left mid way and started his own venture but with the same idea. How do I deal with this sudden competition from my friend? (Manoj Singhal, Student) A

Sorry to hear that. If you have no written agreements in place, don't try to spend time on worrying about what happened. Take this as a challenge and convert the difficult situation into your advantage. Find a capable person who can do things better than what your co-founder used to do. Revisit the business model and take help of advisors/mentors and get additional insights which can make your product/service stand out. All the best!

Q I am in the 1st year of college, pursuing a degree in Commerce. My question is, how can an entrepreneurial ecosystem help India grow? Also, how can we develop the entrepreneurial spirit in us? (Gaurav Navani, Student) A

India has always been a land of entrepreneurs. An ecosystem provides the network and interactions required for all the stakeholders (viz entrepreneurs, investors, employees, service providers etc) to learn, collaborate, share and grow.

Entrepreneurs are those who detect previously untapped opportunities to create substantial profits. Everyone has in them certain risk taking abilities. In that sense, you can tap into your entrepreneurial spirit and nurture it by having the right mentors and team to back you up.

Here are some of the characteristics of most successful entrepreneurs:Passionate, self-taught, self-aware, hardworking, focussed, open to learning.

Q Though I love studying and am serious about my career, off late I am facing a problem of not being able to concentrate at a stretch. Could you suggest ways to increase concentration? (Aravind, Student) A

I think that the best way to increase your concentration is to prioritize the well being of your body as well. At times when you cannot concentrate it is because you are tired and probably stressed. The more you stress, the more tired you become and hence concentration level comes down. It is a vicious cycle. Take care of your health, sleep well, eat healthy and drink plenty of water.

Q I am currently interning at my friend's startup, which is just 6 months old. Based on my performance, he has offered me to join hands in the business. However, on the other hand, I have received a job offer from a top IT company. Both the options seem lucrative. What would be advisable to take up? (Varun, Student) A

Depends if you define yourself as an Entrepreneur or as an Employee. If you consider yourself an employee, then join the top IT firm and be safe. However, if you consider yourself an Entrepreneur, then you can think about joining your friend. Remember that the path of entrepreneurship is challenging and requires immense hard work for success. However, if the business concept is exciting, has a high market potential and if you are eligible to a substantial shareholding or stock option, then go ahead and share the passion!

Q's Global Internship Program pairs up one Indian Intern and one Foreign Intern. How does a program like this, help both the students in their career? (Vasu, Student) A

It is not easy to work with a person who does not share the same culture, the same way of thinking and who potentially does not understand well the way you speak. If you wish to work outside your country, you will soon face this issue and you will be glad to have been, in a way, already prepared through the Global Internship Program. By embracing the differences and learning from each other, you get ready for the business world out there. GIP is a platform that ensures both the interns and the company to network beyond boundaries.

Not all companies have been built with investor’s money. There are plenty of success stories where entrepreneurs waited till they were ready to accept investor’s money.

Q I am in pursuing my final year in the commerce field. I am in a dilemma as to what I should choose between doing an MBA and joining hands in the family business. Please help. (Bala Kerthi, Student) A

If your short absence does not hurt the family business, don’t hesitate to pursue an MBA. You will then put all the knowledge that you acquired to increase your business and to build a strong network that will benefit your business on the long run. All the best!

Q I am doing my M.Sc. (cyber forensic and information security) at the Madras University. I wish to know the job opportunities abroad. Is it essential to learn a foreign language for the same? If yes, do suggest which one? (D. Vivek Ananth, Student) A

Your field is in demand right now, so I do not see problems in getting a job. In countries like the US, there are great opportunities in Cyber security. With the growth of internet usage, cyber security has become of utmost importance across the globe. Understand that it is absolutely necessary to learn and master foreign languages as communication at work is essential. And the more languages you speak, the bigger opportunities you will have. Apart from English, you can learn Spanish and Chinese Mandarin, which are spoken worldwide.

Q I am currently pursuing my Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE). I would like to enhance my knowledge for a better career. Please do suggest what all I can study apart from my regular curriculum. (Natarajan, Student) A

There is no end to learning and enhancing your knowledge. You can pursue your M.Tech in VLSI, Computer Programming, Embedded Systems or any other related subjects. Also, I would suggest business studies and/or marketing and/or communication. Business studies will teach you how to think about your job in terms of impact on the market, and it might help you in the future to transit from a pure technical role to a managerial role by pursuing an MBA.

Q Do you feel that being a specialist adds more value to my career or having multiple skills as a generalist would be beneficial for me ? (Varun) A

The world is moving to generalist specialists - a specialist who is able to understand and empathise with team members from other specializations. This requires a good understanding of other areas. I would recommend to focus on being an expert in at least a couple of areas.

Q Are entrepreneurial skills inherited or can be learnt? (Srikar G) A

Everyone has risk taking abilities in them. One who can tap into that potential and practices in a disciplined manner can be a great entrepreneur.

Q How does one judge that a business idea is going to work or not? (Monish) A

You can judge if a business idea is on the right path from the feedback from the customers. The feedback need not be verbally communicated - it can be a repeat purchase or recommending your product/service to their friends. Customer is the most important driver of any business.

Q Off late I see many colleges offering courses in entrepreneurship, do you think such courses can give me a kick start to form a start-up? (Arjun Kumar) A

It can help you understand from a theoretical perspective. But you need to put your learning and knowledge to action. The classrooms can be a good place to team up with other passionate people with similar interest. All the best!

Q I have a few gaps in my resume because I couldn't find a job. I also took a break for some personal issues, how do I cover this up while seeking employment ? (Farhan) A

Be honest to yourself and your future employer. Taking a break for personal reasons shows that you are able to prioritize and take up the responsibilities. Present your strengths in an obvious manner. Good luck!

Q I wish to do work from home, but I was taken aback from some unreliable sites to earn. Would work from home be a good option to explore again ? (Sameena) A

Yes, if you focus on your strengths you can work from anywhere. There will always be unscrupulous sites/companies. Spend the required time in finding out the details of the company, the founders and management. You will be able to find the right ones which fit your strengths and requirements.

Q I am a graduate, working in an IT firm. I want to set up a networking solutions firm in Chennai in a few years. Should I do an MS in networking and get experience in a U.S. Based Networking company or do a CCNA/CCNP course and switch to a networking company in India to gain experience? (Bhuvana) A

If I were you, I would pursue an MS in Networking and get experience in a US based Networking company.

This is because the international exposure and a higher education level, will bring you more benefits than just the technical expertise you would get by taking up technical courses.

This exposure will serve all the areas of your future business.

Q I am currently pursuing a course in Animation in addition to my B.Com degree. How important is an internship to my career? Should I do a certification course for getting an internship? (Nitesh) A

An internship provides avenues for you to learn things that you cannot learn in your campus. You can gain a first-hand experience in interacting with people who have different jobs for you.

The goal of an internship is to provide a platform for the intern to learn and grow. Companies look for bright interns who learn fast, work hard and deliver under pressure.

I wouldn't be too worried about the missing skills; I would think about my eagerness to learn, to work hard and to be passionate.

Q Are internships available in the field of Hardware & Networking? What are the job prospects for an Arts graduate with basic knowledge of computer hardware and networking? ( Arijit Maitra) A

I am sure there are internships in Hardware and Networking, but I think your definition of Hardware and Networking might differ from mine as these two fields are huge.

In my view, we are at the Design and UX experience age in both Hardware and Cloud & Software. This is an era well suited for artistic minds, and we are seeing more and more Design and Technology universities as well as Art and Social Sciences Research labs embracing Multimedia technologies.

For the best jobs prospects, I would suggest you to check these university websites.

Q I am currently doing B.E. in Computers and will graduate in 2015. I am also interested in Business Management and am planning to pursue MBA in Finance after graduation. Should I do an internship in something related to both IT and business or purely business even though I have no qualification on the business front? (Ridhima Sawant) A

Your situation sounds a little difficult to me. I would first do an internship in relation with my BE and then, when I pursue my MBA, I will have ample time to do business internships. 2015 is a long time in the future.

You can still change your mind; so you should not undermine the potential that your BE can offer, should you not pursue an MBA.

Q I am pursuing my BE in Information Sciences. I have a strong affinity towards Computer Science and wish to get more knowledge in this field. Which field has more scope? (Harshitha K S) A

It really depends on your background. In IT, there are disciplines that will involve a lot of Math/Physics. So, for some students, disciplines like 2D/3D Imaging and Sound Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks, Data Mining, Theoretical Computer Science, Machine Learning, Cryptology etc... might be daunting.

These are fields of strong growth today. But, there are also other fields equally important (I think everything is important) that might be less involving in scientific terms at first sight.

Best would be to analyze leading university websites such as the M.I.T to know where the IT world is heading and be ready for it.

Q How does one acquire entrepreneurship skills? (Ranjitha) A

Entrepreneurship can be learnt by practice like any other skill set. Every human has the inbuilt potential to be an entrepreneur. All one needs to do is to play to one's strengths and keep on practicing in a disciplined manner and achieve consistency.

Q What was the biggest mistake you made in your entrepreneurial journey? I am trying to understand mistakes I should avoid when I start-up a venture? (Twinkle) A

A company is built on the skills of a core team. Ensure all founding team members are aligned and the expectations, responsibilities and rewards for each are agreed upon. A great many times, discrepancies might exist between the founding members and these can become a hindrance in a company’s progress. In extreme cases, such issues might make the entire journey not worthwhile even though the company is a great financial success.

Q How to avoid hiring the wrong people for a start-up. How often are co-founders removed from their positions? (Mahesh S) A

Find the right fit - in terms of skills for the role as well as a good human being and a team player. The scenario where co-founders are removed arises when they breach the Founders Agreements, followed by the organization. Another possibility is when professional investors (VCs, Private Equity or Institutional) are part of the company and they lose faith in a co-founder, they can execute and deliver on the agreed vision of the company.

Q How do you tell the world that you just launched your start-up? It's not easy to get the media journalists to publish about your start-up. Are there any options that are equivalent to the power of newspapers? (Ridhima Sawant) A

In a world full of 'me-too', if you are truly unique - the world will notice. Think of it like this – the world consists of 7 plus billion people but how many times have we heard someone whose voice is very similar to ours? Find that unique strength in yourself and your company. When you have done that, I am confident you have started on the road to success in earnest. All the best!

Q At which point can you determine that a start-up is no longer a start-up and has become a successful company? (Harshitha K S) A

The company is a success when your customers are referring other customers. The company is a financial success when your income is more than your expenses in a consistent manner for a few years.

Q I am a software professional working in an MNC. I am also pursuing my PhD part-time in the area of Mobile AdHoc Networks. I wish to do an MBA abroad. Will my technical background be a hindrance for my MBA? (Chandra Mouly) A

I do not see any problems in completing your PhD and then pursuing an MBA abroad. MBA programmes such as in S.P Jain or INSEAD, to name a few, would welcome outstanding candidates with a technical profile.

Q What are the real reasons that someone gets promoted and others of the same capability don’t? (Lakshmi P) A

It is probably because they do not have the same capabilities. In a meritocratic world, promotion should be granted on merit and only to the best.

Now, estimating who is the best candidate for a promotion is not necessarily related to being the most skilled employee. There are other dimensions to consider such as management ability, leadership and decision-making, to name some.

Q I am 31 years old with an MBA in HR and an overall experience of 5 years as an admin manager and a business developer. I took a break of five years to raise my child, during which I was freelancing as a soft skills trainer. I now wish to start my career again. I want to be a business analyst but don’t have prior experience. Do I undergo some courses with placement assistance? Do MNC’s accept freshers who are 30+? (Deepti Das) A

You are young and what you did is great which makes you even more likeable. Just state what you want to do and go and find the job that you want to do. For this, believe in your capabilities and convey your strength to your future employer, the same strength you required to take care of your child. A good employer (MNC or others) will probably recruit you for the talents you have and your fast ability to learn and to bring long-term value to the company. In case you face challenges, you can revisit your position and goals.

Q What is your view on unpaid internship? (Anurag M) A

I think this is a personal choice between the intern and the company and I would rather do an amazing internship in an amazing company and for free rather than being paid for a mediocre job in a mediocre company. I understand that some interns might have economical difficulties and would prefer to be paid for their work. But what matters is the unique experience you get in doing a great job and the possible outcomes of a great internship.

Q How do I decide when it's the right time to leave my current job and move on? (Surya K) A

First, you need to explain to yourself why you want to move on. Ask yourself these questions: are you bored with your current job? Are you looking for a change of career? Are you poorly paid? It’s a different situation if what motivates you to move on is inherently linked to you and your profession; or considering the current work environment.

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can assess and find out when is the right time for you to leave your current role and move on.

Q If I wish to start-up a business, do I essentially have to have work experience in the same field itself? If not, can experiences in related fields of my business help me with the venture? (Arivalagan) A

Experience will help, but it is not a must. If you have identified an unmet customer need, you can definitely jumpstart your venture. The starting point of success is the customer for any business.

Q Does this hold true? "Do what you love and money will follow!" (Vijay) A

Absolutely! When you love what you do and your passion/hobby becomes your work/profession, you will enjoy it. You will need to learn to be patient and give yourself the time and space to help you stand out from the crowd. Otherwise, just following your passion may not make you financially successful.

Q I have recently set up my own venture. The angel investor is looking at a majority ownership in my company. Is this a typical scenario? (Abhishek) A

At the outset you need to ensure the investor is the right fit for your business. It is difficult to generalize on ownership structures. For each company the stakeholders, their experiences, requirements and involvement vary.

Q Entrepreneurs are for sure busy, living their dream. I wish to be mentored, how to find an appropriate entrepreneur for that. If I do get, what can I offer in return? (Praveena) A

A mentor need not be an entrepreneur. At different stages of your entrepreneurial life, you will require different levels of mentoring. A true mentor will not expect things in return in a purely transactional format. A true mentor is one who believes in the motto - the more you give, the more you get (although may not be from the same source).

Q We are a couple of students at IIM who have made a website which has witnessed high amount of traffic. However, we don't know how to convert this into a profit generating model. Putting up advertisements is the only source or could you suggest any other? (Rohit) A

Congrats on your achievement! Is the traffic valuable or just a volume driver? Is the average traffic stable for a consistently long period of time and not just a onetime surge? We will be able to answer in detail if we have further details on the industry vertical, the origin/source of traffic etc. Please feel free to send us further details and we will be glad to help in any way we can.

Q What are the three mistakes that an intern should avoid during his/her internship? (Ahmed) A

Mistake 1: Doing something that might adversely affect your reputation; you cannot afford to do that.
Mistake 2: Not taking your job seriously and being unproductive and not motivated. In my view, you need to work harder than the employees because you are also spending time learning.
Mistake 3: Isolating yourself. You should interact with other colleagues and participate in teams' activities.

Q If I change my job too often, probably once in 2 years, would it have a negative impact on my resume? (Kavita) A

You will need to provide good justification for your action, as every organization would want to know the reason. If your actions are well justified, then it should be fine. However, the judgement depends on company policies, culture and also on the sector you work. One thing that your future employer would try to figure out is how long would you stick with that organization. In case your reason for frequent job change is not strong enough, then sure it can hurt.

Q I am interested in too many things at a time. This dissuades me from focussing in one field. How do I choose my career path? (Aakash) A

Why do you need to force yourself in being focused on one field? For example, I studied in many universities and learnt many different things and I am glad that I did so. It is sad that life is too short to dedicate myself to other fields I would like to explore. Your job, or your career path, should be a place where you go with tons of passion and willingness to learn and excel. If you are still unsure on which one you want to do, just take the best one.

Q Does the design of a website play a major role in showcasing to users the strength of my product? (Jayant) A

It depends. Google has the simplest design ever, but strongly demonstrated the power of their product. 3D games have amazing designs to transform their players into addicted players. It really depends on what you do, but I would say that we are now entering the age of the design and a well designed website will outperform a boring one.

Q In interviews, we are often asked about our strengths and weaknesses. What would be the best way to handle such a question? (Preeti Mishra) A

Be honest about yourself. No one is perfect. There is no point in hiding weaknesses as they will appear sooner or later. While you should do your best to eradicate your weaknesses, focus on your strengths. The first step towards becoming stronger is to have confidence in yourself.

Q I have just completed my internship as a management trainee with a reputed organisation and have some great job offers. But I would like to set up my own venture. Please advise. (Sukriti Simon) A

The best way to learn entrepreneurship is by being an entrepreneur. I do not think that any job can ever prepare you for it. So, it is always the right time to start, provided you can support yourself financially. Otherwise, you can take up a job, save money and then start your business. It is never too late to become an entrepreneur.

Q I started working in an MNC soon after my bachelor’s and I have more than five years of experience. I now wish to pursue a master’s in journalism. Is it a right decision ? (Rishi Vyas) A

There is no better way to work than to love your job. In the renaissance days, people were pursuing extremely varied activities such as being a doctor, astronomer, painter, sculptor or mechanical engineer. They never thought of having limitations while jumping from one field to another.

Q I am in the final year of my B.Tech and have got a good job offer. However, I wish to pursue M.Tech. What should I do? (Raj R) A

Take the choice which will lead to the least regrets. Personally, I would pursue an M. Tech because I love education and the power it gives for the rest of the life. But this is a personal choice. I am sure many B. Tech students are more successful than their M. Tech friends. If a company wants to recruit you with a B. Tech, don’t you think that other organisations will want to recruit you with an M. Tech, as well?

Q What are the key traits an organisation looks for in an intern for possible future employment? (Amit Maurya) A

Personally, I would begin with looking at education. The ability of the candidates to listen to the questions and answer clearly also plays a major role. Further, the presentation of their curriculum vitae constitutes the first impression and also, their performance on real exercises and problem-solving. If a candidate has excellent credentials, is competitive, curious and is willing to learn and solve (hard) problems, thinks clearly, listens and communicates well and has an open mind, then, the chances are that this candidate is a good intern and makes a good potential employee.

Q I’m pursuing my Bachelor’s in Business Administration. I’m also passionate about journalism. Can I take up an internship in journalism first to see if it suits me? (Saurabh Pathak) A

If this doesn’t conflict with your BBA, then, yes! You should take up the internship and experience first-hand what journalism is.

Q How do I react to negative feedback about my start-up on social media platforms? (Ravi D) A

I think you should be quiet on this and not expose yourself to social media warfare. If the feedback is to do with to your products and services, then you might have to improve your products. Depending on the situation, you could be apologetic about the limitations of your product(s) and let them know that you are incorporating their suggestions to improve and offer a better product.

Q How important are my academic results in securing a good job? Also, does the reputation of the institution matter? (Sonia Jaiswal) A

I think they are very important. They show who you are, how you compete and how fast you learn. If you want a good job and have no experience, you are going to compete with many others who want the same ‘good’ job. Therefore, get excellent academic results. If you have great working experience then it will also be taken into consideration.