Right from the time, we were kids my best friend Sneha always knew she wanted to be a doctor and planned her studies to lead in that direction. Today she is doing her final year medicine from a leading college in the country. Directly contrasting her with my other friend Shweta drifted through school and then joined college with no clear idea of what she wanted to do. When last year she decided to apply to an MBA, it was again because everyone was getting into MBA and not because of any clear aptitude in the area. Still, she is unable to clearly state why she wanted an MBA degree and is now wondering whether a career in advertising might be her cup of tea.
It is a sad fact that most of us are Shwetas out there. It is a fact that 80% of the students have no idea of what they want to major in and of the 50% change their major at least once in college. This is the reason why we have many English majors switching to software and science graduates choosing a career in finance. Most of the degree holders hold a plethora of degrees in a totally unrelated field. This is also the reason why we have so many people dissatisfied with their careers at the age of 40 and 45. That’s why, if you don’t decide everything before its too late, there is only one way to go – DISASTER.
Career counsellors recommend choosing your career by the age of twelve or fifteen. Then you will have ample time to plan your studies according to your chosen path. You can take up electives and extra education on the desired topics so that by the time you are out of college and looking for a job, you will be more than ready and among the best.
The key rule is planning and careful introspection. Think hard before you arrive at a decision. You have to live with it for the rest of your life and enjoy it too. Plato said “Know thyself” and truly that is what is going to help you arrive at a proper decision. Some of the thumb rules to guide you are.
Go Right Back to Childhood
Most of the vital clues to our real aptitude and talents are found in our childhood. It is mainly because at that blessed time we are our true selves without any masks to please others. Hunt up those old albums and find out what you are doing in most of the photos. Are you happily drawing away with a crayon or making paper dresses for your dolls? May be you are singing your heart away or dancing unabashedly to the latest tune? Most of the snaps might show you building castles with blocks or tinkering with old clocks which no one has ever bothered with for ages. As you can guess by now they will provide vital clues about your leanings. If the albums prove useless, ask around. Your Mom is the safest bet. Corner her and find out what you loved doing most. Was it dressing up or bicycling? You should by now have a clear idea of what you love doing most. It is an accepted fact that most of the likes developed during early childhood never die away.
A set of questions on similar lines as the ones given below:
- What is the subject I love most?
- What sort of question would keep me awake the entire night pondering on it and I wouldn’t care the next morning about the lost sleep?
- What sort of project would I lose myself in?
- If I won a lottery and didn’t have to work for the rest of my life, what would I rather be doing?
- If I were marooned on a lonely island which of my activities would I miss the most?
- Closing my eyes and drifting into the future, what picture of myself comes instinctively to mind?
- Forget what I am good at, what would I rather be doing?
- What would I not mind being addicted to and wouldn’t notice the hours flying by when I am at it?
- If I were forced to pick a job tomorrow, what would I rather be?
- And finally but most importantly, would I be good at it? This is the most important aspect. If your answer to this query is a resounding “NO”, I am sorry but you have to start all over again and arrive at your perfect career.
By now you must have a clear idea of what you want to do. You have crossed the all-important line, the best thing to do is prepare a statement of mission. Write down what you have decided to be and the reasons. Find out real solid logical reasons to back it, otherwise your intent might fall flat on your face. Try these:
- What are my reasons for choosing this?
- List out five strengths that back this career choice.
- List out five weaknesses that might hamper this choice.
- Is the choice suited to my emotional temperament? Don’t make a face. This is important too. If you are an introvert, you can never pull off a career in marketing however much it appeals to you. If you still decide to stick to it, you got to work on your personality and mould it to suit the career you choose. Yes, this can be done too, but you got to KNOW.
- How long do I need to stay at school and what are the probable areas I need to major in? For example, if you decide medicine is your calling, you need to take a lot of advanced classes in biology.
- What are the job prospects and does the work environment coincide with my idea of a dream job?
- Do the career prospects match my expectations?
- What else do I need to do to better equip myself to this career and how do I go about it?
- Which colleges offer me the courses required and where would I best live to enrol?
- What do I need to do to get into the college I desire?
Now that you have decided on your career, go grab your dream. Hang out with people who are already out there where you want to be. Get some good hardcore experience during holidays so that you can get an idea of what you are in for. Remember you have to enjoy what you are doing.
By: Ramita Shakya