Professional Career Choices – How to make them?

Job seekers today have more job options than ever before – thanks to super specialization, the service sector recognition and the growing acceptance of non-traditional careers.

While the power to make career choices can be empowering it can also be a source of much confusion and discomfort. Youngsters looking to take up their first jobs are often, unable to make up their minds, while others may chronically switch jobs due to their own indecision.

Most candidates fresh out of college or B-school are alarmed by the long term impact of taking a career decision. Let me take the example of Mr. R who was only 20 years old when he graduated from college and was suddenly faced with this career decision. He was confused because there was this finality associated with it. He was deciding or had to decide what he would do for the rest of his life.  Now he is a senior manager, human resources at a major FMCG company. Career indecision is usually a fear of the unknown.  Unless the individual can deal with the root of this issue, it will repeatedly crop up at various stages of his/her career. Additionally the individual holds back from giving their best at work because his /her commitment levels are not up to the mark. Finally, an indecisive and confused   individual will never be confident at work and with himself affecting his performance and contribution to the employer.

An excellent solution for career indecision is to take up internships. An internship allows you to understand the practical aspects of the job, the working of the organization and whether the profile matches your skills and interests.

For example, a media student had several options before him but the confusion he had in his mind resulted in indecision. So, he consulted his mentor and seniors and took up internships every vacation – advertising, print journalism, public relations and television broadcasting. This helped him to make up his mind to a great extent and  enabled him to completely cancel out some career avenues which he thought were not suitable for him. Since it was a short internship, there really was nothing to lose.

Career assessment testing is another option, especially for those who are completely undecided. Career testing helps putting things into perspective. It is especially useful for those who have not narrowed down to a general area. Interestingly enough there are also a growing number of individuals with work experience enrolling in for career assessment testing. Many working professionals have been pushed into careers when they were younger and are now contemplating a career switch. Career assessment   testing helps them discover new career options especially ones that take into account their interest and passion.

Unfortunately, passions and hobbies don’t always translate into the best jobs. There is often a conflict between what you want to do and what you should do (for salary, growth, opportunities, social respectability, stability).

Others find a difference between what they are qualified for and what they are passionate about leading to indecision. Mr. E is an engineer by qualification but a part of him always wanted to pursue a career in music. After much debate he decided to do a part time course in music besides his engineering job. Now, he plays for a band as well. Essentially he feels that he played safe and chose both instead of picking one over the other. His idea is to quit his job if his band ever makes it big.

Combining your passion and professional qualification is another option. Now I am illustrating the case of RG who did her MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies. She had her heart set on a career in graphic design and artwork. Today, she runs her own business, which specializes in customized graphic solutions. She manages the business and creative aspects. It is financially as well as emotionally rewarding because she says she enjoys her work and yet can pay her bills. Think differently to explore new and upcoming careers.

Sometimes a decision simply has to be made. In such a scenario the importance of research should not be underestimated. Quantifiable data will give you numbers to crunch upon.

How much is the industry expected to grow? Speaking to industry insiders will also give you the right insight. Making a decision is much easier when you have adequate information to base it on. However, make sure that the decision is truly your own.  Understand what you want, your motivations and priorities. Once you have made a decision act accordingly to give your self a successful career.

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