A big challenge faced by Aditya’s team is the lack of support for quality, affordable career counselling services for youths. The education system in India is more curriculum based, where exams and rankings are given great emphasis in society. In contrast, career counselling is seen as secondary and not as necessary. As many students still base their career choices on tried-and-tested pathways advised by well-meaning family and friends, choosing a career based on one’s innate strengths and interests is still uncommon. Hence, traditional mindsets needed to be changed before more youths can be empowered to take charge of their career choices. However, changing entrenched beliefs and mindsets proved to be harder than it seemed. Aditya also reflects on his lack of corporate experience, saying that not having corporate experience has its pros and cons. “I did not have corporate experience so I moved very fast but I learnt a lot through trial and error. It was very challenging out of college to get people to do work… The bad part was I was holding most of the stake myself and did not have a lot of emotional support”, recalls the action-oriented entrepreneur. He felt that, had he experienced working in a larger corporation, he would have been able to learn about structure and management, which could have helped him in the early stages of the venture. There was also immense peer pressure when he first started working full-time on ProBano as a fresh graduate and saw his peers in their corporate jobs and enjoying their parties and travels. However, Aditya’s satisfaction from helping society and igniting positive change in the future of India fuels the determination that keeps him going. The bigger the problem, the more he was drawn to it. This is because students have access to information online and know a lot of career options but he says it is not in the Indian culture for students to explore their options. Strong peer support also goes a long way, as many tell him he is doing great work. With his incredible passion and trial-and-error approach, to date he has influenced 12,000 students from 140 schools across 11 states in India.
ProBano is also aiming to start incubation centers. The first pilot is already in the pipeline with Udhyam Learning Foundation in Haryana, where the pre-engagement has already begun. It is targeted at ITI students.
The reason for this is because employment rate in ITI institutes have dropped significantly in past few years, from 43% in 2017 to 29% in 2018. As generating more jobs is a big challenge, he hopes for these incubation centers to nurture more entrepreneurs who will then be able to create jobs for others.
“There’s 3 phases to this program: basic, advance and incubation period,” shares Aditya. “In the basic phase, we teach them how to make a minimum viable product (MVP). In the advanced phase, we teach them startup fundamentals and how to market their MVP. They then go on to the incubation program for 6 months. By December 2020, we want to graduate 10% of students from this program so they are ready to launch their own startups.”