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In-Depth Jobs

Issue no 41, 8 - 14 January 2022

To Accomplish Your Career Goal You Need Clear Vision On One

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

 In life some choices are made for us and some choices are made by us. For example we can’t decide which family will we take birth in or whether we would be born in a village or city. In the early age most of the decisions regarding our schooling etc. are taken by our parents or guardians. As we grow up we have our own thoughts, ideas and perceptions which of course are influenced by our surroundings, exposure and experiences. We start thinking of our short, medium and long term future. One thing which concerns us most is our career. Not only we, our parents, family members and other well-wishers also are concerned about our studies and career.

It is said that change is the law of nature, so if things are changing we shouldn’t be surprised. But the kind of changes that are happening and the pace at which the changes are taking place is indeed unprecedented. The changes have come with fair share of opportunities and challenges. The age we’re living in is full of opportunities. Which  opportunities we look at and how we navigate to those opportunities is for us to decide. There may be problems and hardships but what we achieve shall be determined by our honesty to the purpose and how hard we work for this purpose.

All of us want a ‘good’ career. This good is somewhat subjective as everyone may have a different preference. But it’s important to decide what is good for us and then work to achieve this goal. The world of careers has changed and expanded in a big way. Clarity about our career goal shall always help us to plan and strategize better. You might have come across the famous quote of Lewis Carroll – ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there’. The idea here is that we should know our destination and then take the path that will take us to this destination.

After choosing a career goal one can make focused and planned preparation. Questions are often raised as to what is the right time or stage to decide a career goal. There is no fixed answer to that. However, it shouldn’t be at a stage too early. We hear many students in class 6 or 7 saying that they want to become an IAS officer or an astronaut etc. To take a particular direction in the matter of career, one needs understanding of oneself as well as certain amount of maturity which may not be there at such a young age. Also in many cases very early decision about a career choice is mostly taken on the basis of glamour attached to a career and not on the basis of in depth knowledge about that particular career. The earliest time to give a serious thought to one’s future career can be said to when the student is enrolled in Senior Secondary level. However even at Higher Secondary level it’s not late. Also, any decision with regard to a career goal has to be taken with the understanding of what the career entails and how it will shape your life and future.

The Changing Scenario

When we became independent our economy in a way was in nascent stage. Also the country followed a model which was more oriented towards a closed than an open economy. We continued with this system for about four decades till we moved to an era of liberalization which can be considered a watershed in the economic history of India. Many areas of business and industry in which only government used to operate were opened for private enterprises. Foreign Direct Investment norms were eased, licensing and permit policies were relaxed and thus came a time when private sector began to spread its wings in the areas like aviation, banking, steel, tourism, education, healthcare etc. creating new employment opportunities. Side by side the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) revolution was taking place in which India actively participated. So many new jobs came up in the country itself, we also became an outsourcing hub for global companies and many of our young people were offered jobs overseas in companies working in the above areas.

Even though our country doesn’t have as many jobs as would be needed to achieve full employment, young people now stand a better chance to take up a career of their choice. It is now easier to gather information about any career and to prepare for a particular career. Resources are available in abundance.

Approaches to Decide a Career Goal

People have different  preferences which reflects in their choice of career and also in other aspects of their lives. In no case a particular career should be identified for its glamour or any superficial aspect. We should also consider difficulties and challenges that come with it. Whatever we decide, we need to be realistic so that we don’t have to regret at a later stage.

Also a career doesn’t necessarily mean being employee of some company or organization. A full-fledged time career can also be made in music, photography, sports etc. Here one also has the option to pursue these as hobbies with some other career. Starting your own venture is also a career path.

There are two distinct approaches through which we may decide which route we want to take. One can look at various options available and then try to reach a conclusion on which one is good for her or him. There is no dearth of options which can include engineering, medical, architecture, banking, management etc. The other approach is to understand your interests and choose a field which matches this interest.

To decide your career goal it’ll be better if you adopt step by step process. We all have talent and potential. Behavioural scientists say that a career which gives you an opportunity to use this talent and makes you realize your potential is going to be more fulfilling and satisfying. Let’s not forget that out of 24 hours of a day cycle, a major portion will be spent on work. If this time is not enjoyable, it may be a reason for dissatisfaction and may lead to frustration which is not good for our physical or mental health. Look around and you can see people who have everything but they are not happy with their work life or don’t like their work. So it’s advisable to be careful in our choices.

The scientific or say prudential exercise for setting career goals should begin with self-analysis followed by self-assessment. Under self-analysis you need to identify your natural talents and whether these can be useful in a particular career. One can also look at the talents which one would like to acquire to get close to a career of interest. You have to ask questions like –what keeps me happy, which work I’ll enjoy most etc. Under assessment you have to understand your personality and how your career goals can be matched with it. Some aspects of our personality can be counted as our strengths. We need to work on these strengths to our advantage. When it comes to weaknesses, we’ve to make sure that we get rid of these. This can’t be done in a single day but by adopting incremental improvement you may bring big changes.

If you’re clear about your interests and want a career associated with your interest then you’ve come one step ahead. You may create a list of the possible areas of work associated with interest and then evaluate each of these before taking a decision. For example those interested in understanding human behavior may go for psychology or behavioural science. Willingness to learn the equations of supply and demand, income distribution etc. should take you to economics. If interested in computers, courses like Bachelor/Master of Computer Applications, B.E./ B.Tech in Computer engineering, B.Sc./M.Sc. in Computer Science can be pursued. If you’re fascinated by Science, you will have to further decide which branch of Science is closure to your heart and mind as plenty of choices like Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Nuclear Science, Earth Science etc. are available. Whether you want to become a generalist or choose some specialized or super specialized area is also a choice.

Explore and Discuss with Others

It is always better to discuss your ideas with well-wishers who may be your family members, relatives, teachers, friends or neighbours. The fear of disagreement shouldn’t deter you to share your thoughts. While you discuss your career goals with others, you may be exposed to perspectives which never cropped in your mind. Open discussion may also help you to keep your biases away, if there are any. We don’t need to copy others. Also try to find out someone from the line which you are willing to choose, to get some firsthand information about their work and work life. For example if you want to become a software engineer, a person already doing this job may provide you valuable inputs which will help you to in better decision making. Also explore inputs available in career guides, articles, interviews, blogs etc. There are videos posted on social media which discuss career options. Broader areas of careers are known to most of us, but exploring lesser known and underrated careers (like Bachelor of Design) may bring us closer to what we want to do.

Make Best Use of Resources

Many of us always keep thinking about our lack of resources and conclude that without these resources it’s impossible to achieve our career goals. Let this be explained by an example. A student dreams of studying at IIT which is among most sought after destinations for many to get a degree in Engineering. However this student doesn’t pursue this idea further thinking that it is impossible to qualify in IIT entrance examination without coaching which his or her family can’t afford due to financial reasons. Perhaps this student doesn’t know that nearly one third of the students admitted to IIT qualify without joining any coaching classes. At the same time there are thousands of students who even after spending a huge amount on coaching don’t qualify. If you go through the profile of successful candidates in Civil Services Examination you’ll find that many of them are from rural background who didn’t get opportunity to study at prestigious colleges or universities .Their hard work, determination and making best use of the available resources led to their success. Late Dr A PJ Abdul Kalam’s quote that aspirations are greater than resources, holds much value here. A large number of people whom we consider successful and who are holding prestigious positions are from humble backgrounds and have gone through struggle to reach where they are today.

Of course higher studies have become costlier over the years, but still many of our established, prestigious universities charge modest fee. Those with limited financial resources may consider these.

Be Forward Looking

You’ll also do good to remember that for most of you your first career is not going to be your last career. This is particularly true for those who will be working in private sector where switching jobs is much more common. There is no harm in looking for better opportunities, however here also one needs to tread cautiously to make sure that your move proves to be a good decision. Keep an eye over growth opportunities to make most of these.

Only a Degree is Not Sufficient

For a corporate career or a position in government there are prescribed qualifications but only a degree is not sufficient to get a nice role or position. That is why selection processes comprising of one or more of written test, group discussion, and interview are conducted. To achieve your career goal you have to clear all of these. Your preparation should be impeccable. To accomplish your career goal you should have clear understanding of the path to reach that goal.

(The writer is a career consultant. He can be reached at v2j25@yahoo.in)

Views expressed are personal