How to build a long-term career plan

Career planning is about integrating your strengths, aptitude and skills with your vocation.

Even though the number of educational institutes has substantially increased in the country, it is difficult to accept that quality of education has improved. Hence, when it comes to professional qualifications like MBA or BE, there are more seats available than candidates.

A few decades ago, engineering and management colleges hardly needed to advertise but now, it is becoming a norm. This is why students need to be very careful in choosing a course and the institute they join. They shouldn’t decide just on the basis of advertisements as all advertisements are designed to influence their target group. It is not unusual for parents and students to believe and go by the claims made in advertisements of educational establishments as in other cases.

Plan ahead

Before one looks for colleges to apply to, it is crucial to understand the preferred career streams you would like to explore. If you want to become an engineer, you should also analyse the reasons for your choice. Hence, having clarity on why you want to pursue a particular engineering course is needed. It is only then that you can move ahead to select the university or college you want study at.

Apart from checking if the university or college offers the course you want to study, narrow down your list after applying filters such as fees, distance and rankings. This is an integral part of one’s career planning, a process which helps students explore and gather information to make decisions, set goals and take action accordingly. This is why adequate research is a must. With new careers emerging by the day, students today have several opportunities beyond the mainstream choices like engineering. For instance, one can take a look at opportunities coming up in areas like design, liberal arts and public policy.

Career planning is not just about where you would want to do a particular course; it is also about integrating your strengths, aptitude and skills with your vocation. This is important as the job scenario in India has seen a big change during last four decades. The private sector has grown much bigger in recent times and has been offering more jobs. Qualitative change is also very much visible as students can now engage in unique and diverse careers.

The previous generation mostly worked with a single employer. Job hopping was unknown to them, mostly because there were not enough opportunities and job security was of utmost importance. Today, there is a lesser chance that one will superannuate from the same organisation that one joined first. Most of the young people today are keeping their options open. Also, more people now want to become entrepreneurs and freelancers. This is true for freshers as well as experienced people.

There is much discussion about the probable impact of increasing use of robots, artificial intelligence and analytics on the future of jobs. As automation grows, many of the skills possessed by us will see lesser demand in the days to come. So, one should be ready to reskill and upskill as the situation unfolds. Adaptation and flexibility will mean a lot.

Objective self-assessment

Before you embark on your career journey, you should have an objective self-assessment. The old thinking to look at a job as a way of living is being challenged everyday. Now, for many people, a job is a manifestation of one’s passion, interest and creativity. This is why today many people are following what Chinese philosopher, Confucius said centuries ago: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Of course, it is more complicated than it sounds but we can always try. One simple way is by exploring the various choices we have and discussing it with our friends and family. It is good to talk to people from different age groups and backgrounds to gain a broader perspective. Be open in discussing your career aspirations with parents. They know you well.

To sum up, one should not decide his or her career by remaining in silos. The decision should be made by taking a look at the current and future scenarios. The limiting factors and barricades you assume should be critically evaluated in order to make best of the available opportunities and unleash your potential. You may also be one among those who create opportunities.

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How to build a long-term career plan

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