Successful Career Planning: Your Path to Professional Success
Rahul’s ninth standard examinations are over and before he gets his results he’s trying to catch up with as much play as he can because he knows that the beginning of May would mean serious study in order to get high percentages in the tenth standard.
His vacation coaching classes would begin and he is going to have to study hard as his ‘preparatory tests’ are going to be held soon. No sooner will he adjust to his routine that school will start with a bang from day one.
Following this there are several pressures on him ranging from submissions to daily homework, studying and learning, school tests and exams, and finally the Board Exams where he is expected by parents, friends, relatives, and teachers to get percentages in the 80-90’s. Alongside there goes on a riot in his mind “Who do I want to be?”, What must I do to get what I want?”, “ Where can I do it from?”, ‘Can I be who I aspire to be?”
Amit has recently appeared in his SSC exams and is now in a complete vacation mood. However, in-between the haunting questions do make him very miserable. It’s not only him but also his parents who are a bit concerned.
Somewhere the thoughts start creeping in -Should I take up science or commerce? Is computers a better field? Which college offers courses in Biotechnology? Should I start preparing for IIT-JEE right now? Should I opt for a Diploma after SSC so that I do not have to take CET? What is pharmacy all about?
Nita, an HSC [science] student who has gone through the whirlwind of coaching classes, practicals, college lectures, and preparation for the entrance exam is also having a lot of sleepless nights. Her thoughts are –will I get through the IIT-JEE? Will AIEEE scores give you better chances in an engineering college?
Mr. & Mrs. Sharma have their set of disturbing thoughts. Though they haven’t set any particular course for their son & have always been supportive parents. However, they too are not sure how should they go about helping their son with his decision of career choice.
Are you the Rahul or an Amit or a Nita I am talking about? Or, have you come across the Sharma’s or someone like them?
Well, don’t you think Rahul / Nita need assistance? Probably that’s why you find that while the students are busy with their books, some of the parents are engrossed in researching various career options that their child can pursue. These are then suggested to their children for perusal.
Most of these options usually comprise the ‘upcoming careers’ or those in vogue. Some even include the easiest possible alternatives. Science is often the preferred option especially if the student has more than 80% or 85%.
Commerce is the second option and is chosen by students who have secured 70% to 80%. Arts is one of the last options, especially for those who have secured around 60%. Optionally, the students themselves may have some career goals based on their aspirations, peer pressure or likings rubbed on to them from people they are close to or look up to.
Do you think this is truly a logical way of choosing a career?
Whoever said that deciding about your future is that easy? The transition from school/college life to the real world has its own unique experience for every individual. And, therefore, the decision to choose or reject a career should be made over a period of time and after careful consideration of various relevant factors.
The process of career planning stretches from secondary to higher secondary school years. It requires an adequate understanding of you with respect to your academic potential, attributes, talents, interests, personality, values expectations, and resources. While making a career choice; select options where the aptitude, interest, intelligence, and personality are assets.
Avoid areas where the aptitudes are weak and the interests cannot be easily developed. You must also consider your expectations from the job, power, status, money, and challenges involved. Interest is the most essential to sustain a career.
Planned routes to a career along with optional careers or a ‘back-up plan’ chosen during school years, considering the above-mentioned attributes, will keep you adequately motivated throughout your training and during stiff competition.
Besides the above-mentioned, it is also important to keep several factors regarding the career in mind. Explained briefly, these would ideally be:
- Study/Training Involved – an accurate knowledge of the educational or vocational pathway to practice in a given field. Sometimes the coursework may not meet our standards of expectations or be as interesting as the work sounds. So be prepared to go through the grill of academics as well.
- Areas of Specialization – deals with the specialties within the broader career.
- Physical and Psychological Requirements – emphasize the multitude of physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral aspects demanded by the career.
- Nature of Work – is a description of what the career entails.
- Working Environment – contains information regarding where you are going to be located and under what conditions you are going to work.
- Employment prospects – contains information regarding the different areas or related fields where the individual can work given an educational/vocational background.
- Career progression – is an estimation of what heights the person can reach in a given field.
Therefore, one can say that appropriate career planning visualizes a match between the requirements of a job, personality, skills, interests, and expectations. Awareness of the individual’s “real” skills, motivation, strengths, likes, dislikes, weaknesses, and aspirations is very important.
This awareness should be based on actual achievements and must be supplemented by objective tests that can be administered only by trained Psychologists/Counselors.
Psychological tests are statistically reliable and valid thereby giving scientific and objective data about the individual. This followed by a career counselling session will deliver professional assistance to the individual by not only making him aware of his level of grasping, his strong as well as weak abilities, likes, dislikes, and personality factors, but also trying and find a match between his aspirations and his real self.
Therefore, as commonly misconceived, aptitude is not the only measure to be considered or tested. Intelligence, Personality, Adjustment, and Interest are also to be considered and scientifically measured.
Here is a small guide about the steps to be followed in the career decision-making process:
- List the work options you desire. These could be your childhood dreams or your current aspirations.
- Increase your knowledge base with respect to those options by
- attending career seminars and/or career exhibitions,
- reading newspapers, blogs, articles,
- viewing TV programs on careers,
- and interacting with people in the fields of your choice. Accurate information with respect to the real nature of the job can be obtained through this method.
- Simultaneously, undergo Psychometric Tests to acquire objective information about yourself through qualified counselors i.e. M.A. [Psychology] /Post Graduate Diploma in Career Counseling & Guidance and similar such qualification.
- Try and obtain an actual ’feel’ of the work environment of the career you aspire to be in. This could be through summer jobs or by working part-time while studying.
The consequences of a weak decision are dissatisfaction with work, stress, and frustration – both on the job and in personal life. “Job/career hopping” is an adverse possibility. This usually occurs when you have not considered all the aspects discussed above. Instead, you have chosen a career based on unessential reasons such as peer pressure, parent preference, easy options, current trends, or scope.
All in all, one can say that making a career decision is a difficult task even when you have a lot of information. Today, though traditional career options such as medicine, engineering, teaching, and government jobs are still central and essential they are being overtaken by other more novel options such as biotechnology, management, designing, entertainment, and information technology.
It is best to use a scientific, objective methodology in the career decision-making process in order to find the most suitable match between who you are and the career you select.
Go on ……. make an “Information-based Decision”; not an “Impression-based Decision.”