Passion should rule career choice

Passion should rule career choice

Sticking to a vast field that offers multi-options to shift over at a later stage would be the answer to career-crisis, suggests Kamala Balachandran

Pavan had come over to announce his CET results and give sweets.  “Engineering or Medical,” I asked as I knew he had kept his options open.  “I got good ranks in both,” he replied, “But I am not taking Medicine. It will be years before I finish PG and settle down.” The same boy had, fifteen years ago, declared his intention to become a doctor, “I will become a doctor and give everybody injection,” the mischievous three-year old had said with glee. Indeed, then and now, both choosing and rejecting the profession, were for wrong reasons.

But it is a reality that the word ‘scope’ dominates decision-making process and in the bulk of cases, it plays a decisive role. Its power is magnified further as it also works indirectly through the ranking system. Since there is a general consensus on the ‘scope-strength’ of the various branches and colleges, students automatically follow the rule and take up the ‘best’ that their particular rank fetches.

But, while most students and parents eventually concede to this unwritten dictat, the decision making process is often clouded with conflict and confusion.  For deep down, we also hold that in an ideal world, career choice should be made by the candidate from his/her heart; and that one should choose a particular line out of passion for the subject.

Arguments and stormy scenes visit most homes during this period. The youngster, full of idealism, declares that s/he does not care about money or status in life and would opt for a profession that was close to the heart. Pragmatic parents and family elders on the other hand, fear what they see as ‘adventurism’ and seek to shield their ward from dangers they foresee. Just as they did when the child was learning to walk or cycle, they consider it a parental duty, for one last time, to guide and protect their grown up child.

The unfortunate aspect of it all is that neither the parent nor the ward are entirely convinced of their stand. The student is confused because his ‘likes’ keep changing and he isn’t quite sure of what he really would like to do. The parents are fearful that they might be making a mistake by pushing the child into a line against his wish and thereby cause a lifetime of regret.

The scenario repeats itself every year in different homes and once the choice is made, the topic is forgotten and life moves on. Is the end always happy or does the regret stay on with the parent or the ward to haunt for life?

One positive aspect of our educational system is that it ensures that by the time the child reaches the higher secondary level, s/he is already aware of her/his strong and weak subjects. Consistently high or low marks are clear pointers to an aptitude or lack of it in that particular subject. Since admissions happen based on the marks, the student is already protected well from taking up a course subject in which s/he is weak. So if a student gets a merit based seat in a particular stream, it is unlikely that it is an entirely wrong line.

But what about students who generally score well in all the subjects? What happens to a person, who wanted to study literature and ends up becoming a doctor?

Priya is now a doctor in a Government hospital. Asked about when and how she came to consensus with the choice, she said, “It was difficult initially, but the course was interesting and I had good friends.  Though I had no great passion for the subject, I was a good student and went on to get my post-graduate degree too. By then I had clarity on how I wanted to live my life. I was clear that I would not take up my parents’ private practice. I work six days a week, for a fixed amount of time everyday and make enough money to take care of my needs. I have kept my hobby of reading books and watching movies alive and have no regrets.”

Prakash’s heart was set on journalism but he ended up being a Chartered Accountant. While he is successful as an account, he avers that his first love is still words and not numbers. “I will not still say I enjoy the late hours at work, but I have also understood that the job of a journalist isn’t entirely glamorous as I had imagined. Work ultimately is just that, work. It can never be all fun,” he said.

Sarika wanted to take up Physics, but her parents succeeded in convincing her to take up Engineering. “Physics was one of the few subjects I was exposed to and I liked it. I also had certain wrong ideas on what software professionals do and hence didn’t want to take up engineering. Now I realize that there is as much challenge here too.” 

One important point to bear in mind is that job satisfaction and finding happiness in what one does to earn a living is not entirely dependent on the field. A great deal is hinged on other factors like work atmosphere, remuneration received, recognition, responsibilities shouldered, success etc. So taking up the line of one’s choice does not in itself guarantee happiness at work, all through life.

The best bet hence for a student would be, not to narrow down options, and stay in a field that is vast enough to allow for deviation at a later stage. The first degree or diploma essentially provides an overview of the basic concepts and trains the mind to think logically. At the other end of the three or four year period when one is more mature and better informed, appropriate course-correction is still possible and it is never too late to get to move towards where one would like to be.

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