Making the right choice
9 Jun 2008, 0347 hrs IST, Dr Poonam Devdutt for TIMES OF INDIA
A career decision is one of the most critical decisions of one's life. Yet it is surprising how many young people stumble into a career by chance, not choice. It is a decision which influences one's entire future lifestyle, the kind of people one associates with, one's prestige and status in society and the amount of money one earns. A career is important not only for earning a livelihood but also for realizing one's ambitions and getting a feeling of self worth and self esteem.
About quarter of a century ago, the number of careers available to the educated youth was limited. The commonly sought after were law, medicine, teaching, engineering, administrative services, army, business and government jobs. Today, the scenario is drastically different. With liberalization and globalization, the job market has changed beyond recognition. Trade and commerce have expanded phenomenally. With the burgeoning of different industries, jobs in the management field have become very popular. This is accompanied by a tremendous growth in the services sector and Business Process Outsourcing. With a growing middle-class and it's ever increasing spending capacity there is an upsurge in the area of entertainment, travel, hospitality, aviation, advertising and mass communication.
Traditionally, the choice of a career has been determined by the advice and ambitions of parents, the convenience of a family business or by the dictates of glamour, hero worship and money. Or else, simply by what was available. It was, therefore, not surprising that a large number of youth found themselves stuck in careers that were neither satisfying nor fulfilling leading to boredom, frustration and stress.
It is important to realize that a career is an integrated lifelong plan of earning a living. Therefore, career planning necessarily involves meticulous thought as well as adequate information.
So how should one go about choosing the right career? Selection of a suitable career has two aspects - self analysis and information about available job options. Self analysis includes awareness of one's aptitudes, personality and interests as well as one's goals and expectations from the career of one's choice.
Aptitude may be defined as one's inborn talents, abilities and potential. The fact is that each person possesses a range of abilities and talents. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of their gifts and therefore make limited use of them. So the first step is to ask oneself –“What am I good at? What do I do well?” Some indication can be obtained by school marks. For example, some students excel in languages, some in Math and Science, others in Art and yet others in Sports. Many children are born with a mechanical aptitude, others with an aptitude for the performing arts. An aptitude in a particular field coupled with the right kind of training can lead one to heights of success. Also, given an inborn aptitude, a moderate amount of labour can produce excellent results. Whereas, if the aptitude is low, much more labour would be required and even then the same level of success may not be achieved.
Along with aptitude one requires awareness of one's personality. Our personality is the sum total of all our qualities and traits. As common experience shows us, every individual has a unique personality. Some are born extroverts – their energies are directed outwards, they are sociable, like to meet others and make friends. Others are introverts. Their energies are directed inwards and they are happy being alone, by themselves. Other personality traits like aggressiveness, cooperation, sociability, leadership and dominance have major implications for career choice.
Another important aspect is one's area of interest. If one's career fits in with one's interest it will be more fulfilling, if not it will lead to unhappiness and stress. Imagine an electronics and computer buff, forced to become a lawyer; or a shy, home loving introvert forced to become a traveling salesman!
One's motivation for work is also an important factor to be considered. Are you working for money, status and prestige, power or intellectual satisfaction? It is important to choose a career which will satisfy your fundamental motive.
Identification of a suitable working environment is also desirable. What is the environment in which you will be comfortable - business, government, a non-profit organization or the corporate world? Are you attracted to the high-profile, glamorous world of media and entertainment, or the more conservative field of academics or medicine? Would you like to work for the security of a regular salary or would you prefer to be self employed? Women also have the choice of either seeking full time employment or working part time.
Having analyzed oneself the next step is to obtain information about the vast range of job options available and the courses of study leading up to them. The correct matching results in the right person being in the right job, which is the formula for lifelong success and satisfaction.