Whether it is higher education or job search, decide wisely says Dr Brijesh Nair, an Associate Professor at VIT, Vellore. He did his Master's and PhD from Arizona State University, Tempe, US.
You decide one fine morning during your fifth semester that you are going to do MS in US after engineering and start preparing for GRE. After a few days you see some of your friends preparing for the MTech entrance exam -- Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). Now you decide to drop the idea of GRE and start preparing for GATE. Never do this. It may not take you anywhere and finally you may end up losing a year or so, after engineering due to your indecision.
If you plan to do higher studies after engineering, there are ample opportunities available in India and abroad. In India you need to write GATE to be eligible to do higher studies. If you want to do your MTech in premier institutes like IISc or IITs then you need to at least get a rank lower than 500. If you want to do higher studies in the US then you need to write two exams, Graduate Records Exam (GRE) and TOEFL, and then have to apply to the Universities in the US which is a comprehensive process.
A student joining engineering must understand that there are so many areas of specialisation available for each branch of engineering. If you major in Mechanical Engineering you can choose to specialise in thermal engineering, machine design, manufacturing, industrial engineering or aerospace engineering etc. Similarly if you have a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering you can specialise in Structural Engineering or Geotechnical Engineering or Environmental Engineering or Water Resource Engineering or Construction Management or Sustainable Engineering and so many other fields. This is true with any branch of engineering.
If you aim for a job in the private sector after your engineering your best bet will be campus placement. Know the selection process of the companies that may potentially come for campus placement by the sixth semester and start preparing so that you can easily get recruited in the company of your choice. There are two kinds of companies that come to campus for recruitment -- core companies that hire students only from a particular branch of engineering and others (mostly software companies) that allow all the graduating students to appear for the selection process.
There are lots of government jobs awaiting you if you want one. For most of those jobs you may have to end up writing an exam and then in a few of them an interview after you clearing the written exam. Most of the State government and public sector jobs are filled in this way. For various Central Government jobs, it conducts Indian Engineering Service Exam (IES) to recruit candidates to organizations like Indian Defence Service of Engineers etc. This is a three-day exam and has four categories Civil Engineering graduates come in Category I, Mechanical Engineering graduates in Category II, Electrical Engineering graduates in Category III and Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering in Category IV.
So there are ample opportunities available for engineering graduates. The key is selecting a rourse that you love or loving the course you select, and knowing the various possibilities each branch has to offer. Decide by the third year of engineering what you want to do after engineering and work towards achieving that goal. If you do all these things judiciously then you are sure to land up in a good position after your engineering.