Designing life after meticulous planning

Designing life after meticulous planning

The best thing to do while choosing a career is to follow one’s passion and strengths, but what about consulting a counsellor after having done due preparation? Asks Swatee Jog

Students find themselves at crossroads of careers  at various levels; after class X and XII, and especially after graduation when they have to choose a PG degree that leads them towards a specific career in life. More often than not, students like to seek advice from people, whom they can influence about their own interests and not assess their strengths.

In that, their questions usually begin with, “I think I must pursue an MBA / PG Course / etc. What do you say?” Questions like these openly hint at the inclination of the student. Naturally, the reply would be “Why not?” However, not all career streams are suited for students with varied temperaments and inclinations.

It is said that if you love what you do, you won’t have to work a single day in your life.  It goes without saying that you can flourish in only those tasks that you truly love doing. Students who have a proclivity towards number crunching or analytics must choose a stream that boosts their career prospects, while making it enjoyable to work for. It is here that a career counselor comes into picture.

Career counsellors

A big number of institutes have career counselors on campus who can guide students about the career choices. In case there isn’t one, a student can approach a professional career counselor who can help him / her in making a conscious career choice.

n A career counselor administers validated psychometric tools which involve detail questionnaires, answers to which clarify students’ inclination and adaptability towards narrowed career options best suited for them.

n A counselor helps identify skills, traits and match them to specific career streams.

n He/she can chart out career maps and help in honing the required skill sets needed to excel in that stream

n They can even help students in preparing for interviews and also in building a strong resume

Carl Gustav Jung, founder of analytical psychology, theorized that there are four principal psychological functions by which we experience the world; sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. One of these four functions is dominant most of the time.

Many qualified counselors and placement officers administer tests like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which slots students into four dichotomies, forming 16 personality types.

Although it is difficult to assess personality, aptitude and values with a single instrument, it frequently gives the counselor an idea about the best suited career option based on his inherent traits and the likelihood for growth and success. These tests do not guarantee success which is largely based on hard work and focused efforts of an individual. It does, however, help in separating the grain from the chaff in ruling out areas where we may not be strong and to focus on a select few things.

Things to focus on

Before consulting a career counselor, students must focus on the following things;

n Be open in expressing your doubts and apprehensions about specific fields, options, etc. Many times, imaginary barriers hinder a person from pursuing a career option or vice versa. For example, students who are weak in communication and have been introverts throughout, presume that a career in finance, banking, or HR will not require them to speak much and hence opt for one. On the contrary, companies today encourage open communication within all departments. Finance professionals may actually have to frequently speak to teams, clients and make presentations. Also, merely being talkative may not guarantee success in the marketing field which requires patience, a strong grip over consumer psyche, and convincing and negotiating skills.

n Check out for multiple career options from amongst a select few suitable to your personality type. Then weigh them for their growth prospects, industry demand, feasibility, financial aspects associated with fees, accommodation, etc.

n Instead of merely relying on psychological tests (some tests have been criticized for giving out varying results when taken within the gap of a few months), comparing options, fees, institutes, industry demand, own inclination, etc. must be taken into consideration. Although changing career streams and crossing over fields in education and careers is quite rampant, one loses precious time in aligning to a new one.

n Also, students must bear in mind that there is no such thing as being ‘Job-ready-on-the- first- day’. People tend to learn a lot more about the tasks involved, on the job. No amount of preparation can substitute for on-the-job-learning, although being strong in soft skills and domain knowledge are a given.

Honing skills required

Once you have short-listed career streams, focus on honing the requisite skills. For instance, students opting for a career in marketing must be aware of consumer mindsets, current market dynamics, brands, schemes, advertisement campaigns, etc. Reading newspapers daily and supplementing that with the weekly magazines and journals which are easily available at the college libraries literally boosts general awareness, which is a key strength for success. 

Approach the industry after proper homework and they would be willing to let you have a peek if you are of some use to them. Students begin preparations for their job interviews only at the fag end of their academic life. In fact, it should be an ongoing process where a student actually lives the life of a professional; reading, gathering data, discussing and in general, being aware of the nuances of the field. This approach will prove effective in cherry-picking a job of your choice.

(The writer is a training and placement officer in a business school at Belgaum, Karnataka.)

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