Making the apt choice (Essential Guide on How to Choose a Career Path for Students)

Our economy has opened up long back resulting in much wider choice of mainstream and offbeat careers. Although, some parents have started going by choice of children, there are still parents who are pushing children into medicine and engineering courses, leading to disappointments,failed careers and in some extreme cases, suicides too.

Consider the following examples from counselling sessions:

In 18-20 years of education you go through, no period is as crucial as 12th/PUC,when you make career choice. To make the right choice, use the following approach.

  • Rajesh wanted to do Aerospace Engineering much against the opinion of his parents. Two generations of the family were into healthcare, running a well-known nursing home in the city. In counselling session, it was found that Rajesh had absolutely no interest or aptitude for a course in medicine and hence family was advised to allow Rajesh to take up engineering. Though disappointed, the family agreed. Today, Rajesh has a successful career and works for a leading Aerospace organization.
  • Right from an early age, John was fascinated with food. Growing up, he was influenced by several cookery shows and developed a passion to become a chef. In counselling I highlighted the opportunities and challenges of an offbeat career as a chef and advised the parents to allow John to pursue his passion. Although agreeing to my advice in the counselling, eventually they prevailed upon John to join for an engineering course. Disappointed by his inability to convince his parents, John loses focus and after two failed semesters, left the engineering course, joining catering and food technology course.
  • Sahana was a soft-spoken average student without any inclination or aptitude for Medicine. She also wasn’t strong with her memory, a crucial skill and couldn’t imagine handling injuries and blood. However, she was a talented dancer. In the counselling session, her father highlighted his wealthy background and insisted on Sahana doing medicine even at the cost of exorbitant donation. Knowing Sahana’s abilities, we persuaded him not to push her into medicine. Quite disappointed, he relented agreeing to let her pursue dancing.
  • From adolescent age, Sundar was rebellion and didn’t enjoy a cordial relationship with parents. He was keen on Engineering and/or Architecture, and managed to get a seat for Architecture. Sundar’s father who was a doctor disagreed and pushed Sundar into medicine. Now, after two years of MBBS course, Sundar has huge number of backlogs and can’t continue the course.

Assess dream career vs skill sets

You may have a dream to become a doctor or an aeronautical engineer. First assess if you have the required skills like memory for MBBS and mathematics for Aeronautical Engineering. If your skills are weak and also not confident of strengthening, then reconsider your choice.

Aptitude test: Go through an aptitude test to assess your skills like academic, artistic, life skills etc. Remember, as you go to higher courses, the scope of subjects will enlarge and application based. Therefore, you must be really proficient in the subjects. For example, an architect should have creative and imaginative skills, a doctor needs patience, empathy and memory, apart from other technical skills. An aptitude test makes you realize if you have inherent strengths for the chosen career.

SWOT analysis: Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is important to exploit your strengths and take actions to rectify/minimize your weaknesses. For example, if you are choosing marketing and have weak communication skills, bridge the gap by a short-term personality development course. Also, assess the opportunities and threats towards building a rewarding career. For example, currently, artificial intelligence is a very promising career and the trend is expected to continue. However, check for threat of oversupply in the field when you complete the course. Hence, once you evaluate the outcome of aptitude test, use SWOT analysis to authenticate before choosing.

Validate career choice

Although, career options have multiplied in both mainstream and offbeat careers, they are extremely competitive. In mainstream careers, technology supported industries are dynamic and the scenario keeps changing rapidly.  Offbeat careers [fine arts, performing arts, fashion design, animation and designing, communication & personality development, sports etc.], while being lucrative in the long run, are challenging and tough in the initial years. Hence, be convinced about your inner strength to endure the challenges.

Convince your parents/guardians

Assuming you have the skill sets to be an engineer, doctor, a chef or a dancer or any career, convince your parents that you are taking the right decision by elaborating how will you reach the pinnacle of success. Remember, parents only want to ensure you make the right choice and hence, clear their apprehensions.

Approach a Mentor

As seen in the above examples, career related mistakes can make you lose time as well as direction, causing setbacks. Remember, many jobs that exist today may not be there tomorrow, while many which don’t exist today will be created. Therefore, approach a mentor who can assess your overall strengths and advise careers appropriate from a future perspective. A mentor makes you realize if your aptitude and skill set actually support your career aspirations. Thus, they help you avoid career and course related mistakes.

Therefore, take the right decision which defines your destiny and become the architect of your life.

Check list: What next after 12th/PUC?
  1. For mainstream careers, identify sunrise industries or sectors, with employment potential.
  2. Keep in mind your options after the undergraduate course.
  3. Choose offbeat careers if you are exceptionally talented, internally strong and support of parents is assured.
  4. Anticipate complexities of a career, as it might unfold in future.
  5. Choose a mentor to guide you through crucial phases of education until you settle down.
  6. The key to success is to find the right course/career, which motivates you from within.

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V Pradeep Kumar

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