Career counseling is a critical component of preparing high school students for university studies. Schools in developing countries do not have the resources to employ career counselors. Pakistan is an example of a resource-constrained developing country that has limited career counseling resources available to high school students.
To investigate how students in Pakistan make career decisions, we surveyed 450 university students across Pakistan. Only 14% of university students at the four leading universities reported having adequate information when deciding their career paths. Furthermore, we surveyed 614 high school students from three schools serving very different socioeconomic segments of the society. More than 80% of high school students surveyed were interested in pursuing a very narrow set of career paths limited to engineering, business, or medicine. This again is a consequence of under-informed decisions and a “herd” mentality, rather than a creative and exploratory approach.
The goal of Mashvarah (means advice in Urdu) is to democratize career advice: every student that needs advice will have access to a career advisor. The web-based platform envisions bringing together a comprehensive set of advisors, including university students, university faculty, working professionals, and professional career advisors. We believe this will lead to more informed career choices, ultimately creating a more vibrant and intellectually diverse workforce.
Proof of concept by providing career counseling to 500 high school students in Lahore, Pakistan
Sohail Feroz Ali, Co-Founder, is from Pakistan and brings extensive first-hand knowledge of the education system in Pakistan. Since November 2012, Sohail has been surveying schools and universities in Pakistan to assess and analyze the unmet career counseling needs of high school students. Sohail will work full-time for Mashvarah in Pakistan and will serve as Mashavrah’s primary liaison with university collaborators, target schools and advisors. Sohail holds MS and MS-CEP degrees in Chemical Engineering from MIT and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech.
Amrit Jalan, Co-Founder, takes an active interest in education policy and practice especially in enabling access to quality education for underprivileged children. In his spare time, Amrit volunteers with EGE Global Education developing services for Indian students aspiring to study abroad. As part of Mashvarah, he brings an understanding of the challenges faced by students in educational institutions and strategies to maximize their potential. Amrit is pursuing a doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT.
Deepak Dugar, Platform Development, brings an operational background in imparting technical education in India, and will work on the platform growth aspects of Mashvarah. He currently sits on the board of an educational society that runs diverse programs and graduates more than 5000 students annually. Deepak is pursuing his MBA from MIT Sloan and PhD-CEP from MIT, and holds MS-CEP in Chemical Engineering from MIT, and M.Tech and B.Tech in Biochemical Engineering from IIT Delhi.
Sreeja Nag, Portal Development, brings experience in online education technology development and will work on the web portal development for Mashvarah. She has worked as the student lead of the SPHERES Zero Robotics program, which allows high school and middle school students to program satellites onboard the International Space Station. She has interned at Selco India Ltd. to apply IDEO's Human Centric Design to design solar powered battery chargers in rural Indian schools with the dual intent of encouraging students to attend school to charge their electric lamps and preventing health problems associated with the commonly used kerosene lamps. The internship, funded by MIT's PSC, gave her the opportunity to conduct several weeks of fieldwork in rural schools and understand the educational culture. Sreeja is pursuing a doctorate degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT after completing an SM in the same. She also has an SM in Technology and Policy from MIT.
Lahore University of Management Sciences
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) is one of the largest universities in Pakistan with diverse course offerings in business, humanities, engineering, sciences, and social sciences . Mashvarah will launch its first university chapter at LUMS. Mr. Mazhar Chinoy, Director of Office of Student Affairs at LUMS, will advise and support Mashvarah during chapter initiation at LUMS and five other universities in Lahore.
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