After Class 12, what next?

After Class 12, what next?

TO BE OR NOT TO BE? There are many choices for the student and very little clarity. But the good news is that help is at hand. DH PIC BY DINESH SK Aditya was in a quandary because he had a passion for aeronautics and wanted to pursue a career in aero engineering, but his parents were very skeptical.  They were not at all sure whether Aditya, son of middle-class parents, would be able to get a steady job in India in such an exotic field.

They were trying to persuade him to take up computer science. And, that is when Aditya read about the Career Guidance Seminar being organised at Shikshakara Bhavan on April 14. 

He urged his mother to come along, and they both went to attend.  When Aditya’s mother heard from very eminent scholars of how newer and better careers are blossoming for the 21st century child, she was amazed.  And when Aditya approached one of the counsellors, along with his mother, to ask about her specific doubt, they received a patient hearing, a detailed explanation, and a reassurance that Aditya can go ahead and pursue his dream.

After the seminar, just outside the venue, I could see Aditya fondly putting his arm around his mother, and taking her to the nearest ice cream parlour!

As the introducer of the seminar said, “Today there is a problem of plenty”.  There are many choices,  innumerable options, and very little clarity on what field to take up — and why. But the good news is that answers are available.

As a counsellor and columnist, I have been answering career related questions for years, either individually, or through this newspaper.  Many of the questions keep repeating, but I do realise that each one wants to be personally and consistently reassured that they are taking the right step.  Obviously, there is no “ideal” or best career for everyone, hence the need for each individual student to match his/ her abilities and interest to the respective career.

Empowering the student

Many sincere teachers are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their outgoing students, but they are unable to guide them beyond their own subjects, as they themselves have very little exposure to the various alternatives and choices.  That is where the role of media, counsellors and concerned adults come in.  Team work, such as that exhibited on April 14, can do wonders in showing the light to many who are groping in the dark. Education supplements of newspapers provide a wide range of articles not only listing the careers available, but also how one should select.

When professionals who have no vested interest present a balanced view, students get empowered to take the right decisions.  In this era of commercialisation of education, where every private institute is trying to outdo the other by hard-selling their courses, there is a dire need for unattached and knowledgeable professionals to guide the student based on all the individual factors he has to face — his interest and passion, his personality traits, his strengths and weaknesses, his financial ability, the opinion of his parents, and the opportunities available to him based on his grades.

What students need to do

The student cannot sit back and relax because whatever guidance others may give him, he cannot forget what he often tells his elders, ‘It’s MY life’!  Youngsters entering the world of work in the coming years will have an average working span of almost 50 years. 
They owe it to themselves to ensure that not only they find a career that gives them money and stability, it should be something they genuinely enjoy. In the globalised competitive world, only those who have a passion for the work they are doing, and hence give their best through deep inner motivation, will get on to the fast track and reach the top.

In order to ensure that you select the most appropriate career, take the following steps systematically:

-Explore all possible avenues.  Find out every career that is open to you.  And this is the right time to do so, after the tension of exams is over, and the results have not yet come in.  Do not ignore any career until you have found out about it in detail.

-Then slowly do a reverse elimination of those careers you would not like to pursue.  Go on steadily narrowing down your field.

-Once your short-list is ready, check what are the requirements to get into that field. Be realistic.  If you have poor eye-sight, you obviously cannot become an Air Force pilot, or if you are an average student, you may never be able to get selected into the IAS.  But do be aware of related alternatives. For example, you can be a ground duty officer or  you can join other central or state civil services that are less competitive.

-Review your track record so far.  Have you performed well in the subjects that form the foundation for the career you are contemplating?  And,  do you like studying those subjects?

-List your personality traits and verify whether they suit the career. For instance, if you hate travelling, or are not good at learning languages, you may not be a very successful marketing professional.

-Find out what courses will take you to your goal.  You can adapt based on your capacity to get admission, pay fees, study for number of years, etc.

-And finally, keep a focus on the career you have chosen, and start preparing from today.  The most successful professionals are not those with the highest intelligence but those who fix clear goals, start early, prepare systematically, and are persistent.

Like the seminar held on April 14, there are many opportunities to learn. Browse the internet, clarify doubts, read up about different fields and keep discussing with knowledgeable people.  It is probably the most important decision of your life.

The author is a student counsellor and career guidance expert.

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