They say if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. But not all of us are lucky enough to be working in jobs that we really enjoy. However, identifying one's interests along with the various career options available at the right time, can give the breakthrough needed in succeeding at work. With the Indian economy continuously opening up, education reaching international standards and hobbies converting to thriving careers, today's youth have access to work opportunities that weren't available to their predecessors.
Before generation Y was growing up in India, the more accepted and preferred education streams were medicine and engineering. But now, parents and their wards have become aware of the diverse career choices available. However, with more choices come more questions and confusion. A survey of class 10 students revealed that a large number of them were unsure of their career options and therefore which subjects to pursue. The result of this subsequent indecisiveness is causing organizations to lose millions of dollars every year in attrition, re -training and low morale costs. But the costs of choosing the wrong career are not limited to companies alone, young professionals go through demotivation and/or depression as well.
So how can we help young students identify the right career path?
Deciding a career boils down to assessing 3 primary requirements:
1.Understanding ones interests
2.Determining financial feasibility
3.Gauging future prospects
A lot of schools are introducing personality and SWOT analysis early in their curriculum. A student's interests, strengths and personality play a critical role in determining which careers will provide him the most personal satisfaction. There are many free resources available that help students figure out which careers they are best suited for. These online career assessment websites give students the opportunity to answer questions about themselves and their interests, and receive immediate feedback about the careers that best fit their personality.
Career counseling as a tool: Career Counseling is a sustained therapy that helps students identify their aptitude and understand the various options available to them. The ultimate aim of a counselor is to help students study the subjects that are consistent with their individual values, interests, skills, and abilities, through individualized interpretation of career interest inventories.
Internship- A peek into the corporate world: Internships are a unique opportunity to test drive different positions to see which ride the student enjoys the most. Students can utilize their summer holidays to intern in different roles and organizations to see which roles excite them and could financially sustain them, through their careers.
Pitfalls students should avoid while choosing a career
1.Pursuing the same career as your parents or one that they want you to choose: Granted that parents want the best for you. However, that does not mean that the career that worked best for them, will also work for you. The economy has changed, business has changed and options have increased. Hence, choosing a career should be a personal choice. One that plays to your strengths and your interests
2.Choosing the first job that you get: Day one of campus placements are a big deal for students with the companies interviewing being considered the most coveted. But just because those companies and the placement route is apt for a majority of students, does not mean that it is right for you. Along with the role being offered, it is important to consider whether or not the culture of the firm fits with your personal values.
3.Choosing a job that has the best title: The younger we are, the more lured we get by big titles. Students want to be vice presidents as soon as they start working. However, most organizations are moving to flatter structures, where a manager would have more than 15 years of experience and one would not expect to become vice president before 20 years. On the other hand, even if you do get the title of a vice president, you will probably still be doing entry level work that is suitable for your experience levels.
4.Choosing a job based on compensation: This one is probably the toughest pitfall to avoid. The key is to remember that if the role that you choose does not interest you, or does not play to your strengths, then you will most likely not do well in it. That will lead to getting branded as a non-performer very early in your career. That is not a tag that you want, nor one you can shake off easily. You may also find yourself bound by 'golden handcuffs', where your high salary does not permit you to take another lower paying job, even though you may realize that the lower paying job is better for you
Finally, a word of caution: It is not enough to just choose the right career. Making the right career work for you, takes effort. A lot of us believe that once we land the dream job, we can take it easy. Making a true success of your career takes continuous learning. Research shows that interns that took initiative and made the effort to learn more about their jobs and for the tasks at hand, performed better on their jobs than those that came in from better educational institutions or fit the role's education and competency and experience requirements.
Gaurav is currently the Head of L&D and Wellness Initiatives at Happiest Minds. With over 15 years of experience in the HR domain, he has been associated with companies such as TATA Group, Blackstone Group, and Hewitt Associates. He believes that students can gain true success in their careers by continuously updating their skills and knowledge.