Sunday, June 05, 2011

After Class 12: Career options in Commerce stream
When it comes to job opportunities, Commerce graduates have an edge. Explore your options in study and work!
Best schools:  Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) DelhiLoyola College (Chennai)St Xavier’s College (Kolkata)Presidency College (Chennai)Symbiosis Society’s College of  Arts & Commerce (Pune)St. Joseph’s College BangaloreNarsee Monjee College,BM College of Commerce (Pune) and St. Xavier’s (Mumbai) 
Qualification:  10+2 in Commerce,
Our advice:  Commerce is a multidisciplinary field, choose your options carefully
WHAT do steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, PepsiCo Chairperson Indira Nooyi and Kinetic Motors’s Joint MD Sullaja Firoda Motwani have in common? Besides being established names, all of them are Commerce graduates.

Not that their illustrious careers were scripted while studying. But their Commerce background definitely aided in setting the stage. It familiarised them with financial foundations of a company, besides acquainting them with core financial underpinnings that result in smooth functioning of really successful corporations.

Radhika Goel, a third-year student of Delhi’s Shri Ram College of Commerce might just be a leader-in-the-making. With a high level of commitment and an enterprising attitude, she too could be trained into taking on the financial reins of a company, someday. “The course is interdisciplinary in nature,” says the BCom (Hons) student.

Saniya Seth who hails from a business family and is currently studying at Sanatan Dharma College in Chandigarh, says, “I wouldn’t like to give control of my company’s finances to any outsider.” This puts into perspective, her reason for choosing commerce.

BCom basics 
Commerce is a fundamental academic UG programme, besides Science, Arts, Engineering and Medicine. After completing Class 12, one can pursue Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) or Bachelor of Commerce (Hons), both three-year full-time programmes. Commerce comprises a wide range of interdisciplinary branches such as accountancy, finance, statistics, and e-commerce among others (See Box).

In the first year of her programme, Radhika had eight subjects, followed by nine and seven respectively, in the second and third year. The SRCC student chose Political Science in her second year, over Maths and English. In the third year she chose Marketing and Financial Management and Investment Management over Human Resources and Tax. So far Radhika is well versed in the concepts of microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting, business communication, business law, corporate law and auditing among other subjects. In the third year, she is understanding the theories of financial management and macroeconomics. The curriculum in most colleges is similar to Radhika’s programme.

According to Sangeeta Lala, Vice President, Sourcing, TeamLease Services, many UG colleges are integrating industry-required knowledge in their course curriculum. She explains the reason: “Better placements for students.”
PG level and beyondAfter graduation, you can opt for a Master’s in Commerce (MCom) from any recognised university or institute. The  Faculty of Commerce and Business at Delhi School of Economics offers two PG programmes, Master’s in International Business (MIB) and Master’s in Human Resource and Organisational development (MHROD).

You can also pursue a Master’s in Finance and Control as an option in the field of Commerce at the Department of Financial Studies, South Campus, University of Delhi.

Both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes can be pursued through distance learning, such as those offered by the School of Open Learning in Delhi. Other alternatives include a Bachelor’s in Investment and Financial Accounting or Bachelor’s in Business Studies.  Some colleges like the St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad offers a BCom in Foreign Trade.

Commerce students can also join the Indian Economic Service or Indian Statistical Service. The Union Public Service Commissionconducts the entrance exam to these services in November every year
Complementary coursesMany BCom students pursue a professional course like CA, CWA or MBA in Finance, CFA alongside, so as to enter highly skilled professions. Saniya is doing the same, and is currently pursuing the Company Secretary (CS) course. She plans to appear for ICWA Intermediate level exams in April 2011. By then she would have given her final year BCom exam and would be entitled to forgo the Foundation Level. “The Inter-level exams are in December,” she informs.

Diploma certificates for medium-skilled jobs can also be done. For example, obtaining certification in Accounting Technician Course from ICAI. IT-based courses like Tally or Cyber security are good additional qualifications for Commerce graduates.

Saniya while working as finance assistant with ESS ESS India undertook a three-week course in Business Development and ICT Innovation from the London School of Economics in August 2009. The summer school programme in London cost her Rs 1.75 lakh, inclusive of accommodation and food. It gave her additional exposure in the field. Supplementary knowledge of stock markets, currency trading, commodity training is also helpful.

Such diploma and certification courses are offered by institutes or by the knowledge arms of organisations, themselves. National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange Ltd, for example, runs NCDEX Commodity Certification Course. National Institute of Securities Markets has a 300-hour certification programme in Financial Engineering and Risk Management with a fee of Rs 1.5 lakhs. “Cyber law and computer courses related to cyber security can also be considered,” says career counselor Jitin Chawla.
Career prospectsJob opportunities exist in banks, financial institutions, outsourcing firms, insurance companies and audit firms. “A fresh Commerce graduate can start out as account assistant, in CA firm or any other small organisation,” says Jitin.

“CA practicing firms like TR Chada and Co, Thakur Vaidya Nath Aiyar and Co and Singh Suri and Co absorb a lot of BCom students. These firms usually employ grads for auditing as well as taxation assignments, accounting and research work,” says Kuldeep Singh, 31, BCom graduate and practising CA.

Corporates also recruit fresh BCom students from campuses. FMCG conglomerate HUL invited Saniya to work with their BPO and Radhika has an offer letter from Bain Capability Center, Bain India, a consultancy firm.

“Recruitment policies have changed from vertical to horizontal, a mix of graduates are required.  Commerce graduates get an edge because of the existent curriculum and exposure to varied subjects,” shares Prof. KV Bhanu Murthy, HOD, Department of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics. He advises, “It is better for students to have a general degree before going into a specialised degree.”

In the banking sector, foreign banks typically prefer skilled Commerce graduates. In nationalised banks, a fresh graduate is eligible to take a Probationary Officer exam. Government offices recruit non-experienced candidates in assistant grade. “The demand for graduates is high for sales and marketing functions by banks and insurance,’ says Jitin.

Commerce graduates also work as researchers and teachers. “Eighty percent of management faculty possesses an MCom degree,” says Prof. Murthy.
Accounting and countingPay packages depend on the organisations as well as area of specialisation. “The average salary students received this year was 4.25 lakh per annum,” says Dr. CS Sharma, associate professor and placement In-charge at SRCC.

Sangeeta of TeamLease Services says, salaries depend on the nature of organisation and type of job. “However, it ranges between Rs. 8,000 and Rs.16,000 per month for a fresh hire,” she says. Students with good communication skills tend to get paid better. They are ideal candidates for front-end functions such as customer service, marketing and sales. “The salary can be 20-30 percent higher,” says Jitin.

So, if you have the financial aptitude and are willing to develop further competency, be rest assured, as a Commerce student you will never be out of a job!

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