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Choosing and Managing
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A common question in the minds of young people is: which career to choose? Parents obviously want their children to become successful doctors, engineers or bureaucrats. Many students do follow their parents' wishes and are able to build a secure career for themselves. Since not everybody has the aptitude and can clear the extremely difficult competitive examinations of these professions, it results very often in heartbreaks and frustrations. Nor is it necessary that everybody is cut out for every profession. In the long run, it would be better if youngsters choose a career that one has interest in. The key to success would lie in doing things well and not in following what others are doing.

Mahesh is a doctor who has joined MBA coaching classes. "I did MBBS because my parents wanted me to but I find there is no money in it. An MBA will give me the qualifications to work in a multinational and live a decent life", he says. Thousands of students, including engineers from the premier institutes like the IITs, want to get into management for this reason. One often wonders why some of the brightest people in the country are opting for becoming salesmen for foreign companies, sacrificing their talent and years of their hard work and training in a different profession.

Likewise, there is a craze for civil services. After many attempts and wasted years some people end up as teachers or clerks. The process wastes precious years of a person; if only the aptitude was measured earlier, a person could be advised to do something else.

Failure apart, even those who may pass due to sheer grit and determination may not have an inherent interest and spend their life doing their jobs without adding any value to it. This is evident from millions of mediocre IAS officers, engineers and doctors. Even mediocre MBAs cannot rise above middle management because they did not have the interest in the career and can never be as good as one who was always interested in it.

Going by the quality of work done in the country, it does appear that there is an army of mediocre people who are content in passing their time in offices. We seem to encourage mediocrity. Everybody does diplomas in computers and management since they have heard that such diplomas fetch high salaries. Their contribution to the job, sadly, is abysmal.

The diplomas, however, build up expectations and everybody thinks he is fit to work in a multinational company. Not everyone can find such a job, which leaves a trail of frustration behind. Ironically, though there is huge unemployment in the country, it is difficult to find a good typist or a good computer operator.

Multinationals, or for that matter any employer, require people who can "add value". They do not want pen pushers. A diploma or a degree does not add value. It is added by an understanding of the situation and taking intelligent decisions. Highly paid jobs require this more than anything else. A person who does not have talent for this is bound to be left behind.

Choosing and managing a career requires more serious thinking than many of us are willing to admit. First is the question of aptitude. It is necessary not to be overwhelmed by stories of high salaries that others are getting, since each profession offers the possibility to earn more than others. The most highly paid professionals in the country, for instance, are not MBAs. A good doctor or a fashion designer would be able to earn more money. Some famous designers and cardiologists earn more than most MBAs.

The aptitude question is also important to find out whether we can be successful in certain professions. Students preparing for civil services or as a Chartered Accountant would do well to find out whether they are cut out for them rather than spend years trying to pass tests that they cannot. It is not a matter of intelligence it is a matter of aptitude.

Secondly, a commitment is called for. Most young people say that they can work hard but when it comes to doing it, they are happier spending time with friends and outings. It is important, therefore, to be honest with yourself, assess the kind of time you can put in and the resources you have at your disposal. Do not be misled by the glamorous professions but choose something which is more down to earth. If you do choose to work in a multinational, look at the effort put in by those executives and try to emulate them. Merely saying that you can work hard will get you nowhere.

 
Multiple Opportunities

Of late the situation has changed drastically. The lure of Government jobs is no longer strong enough to prevent the job-seekers from taking up jobs in the private sector as well as self-employment. Government jobs and UPSC competitions are still attractive, but to lesser number of candidates every year. Self-employment opportunities have grown so important that people who taste early success in this field never try for any job or competition. The self-employment opportunities range from computer training centers, stenography classes, schools providing high tech services like micro-filming, off-set printing, professional photography, graphic arts, fabrication, civil works etc to setting up of small-scale manufacturing units, export business etc. There is hardly any field in the Indian economy today where business does not flourish, be it a small enterprise such as a STD, PCO or a large business of clearing agency for exports or dealership in automobiles, gas or petrol/diesel. The aspect of self-emplont although needs a lot of personal attention and hard work, but at the same time is highly rewarding, as compared to a fixed salary job. Growth of business and income levels is not related to the age or experience of a person, but on his/her hard work, imagination and business sense. Only the selection of work/job must be appropriate and commensurate with the aptitude and academic/professional qualification of the person concerned.

 
Analyze Inner Strength and Set Goals

Every human being has certain inherent strengths and weaknesses, which must be recognized by making honest introspection. An objective self-assessment of own strengths and weaknesses would reveal to an individual his/her own inner potential. The assessment of inner potential can also be obtained by talking to some successful persons on various subjects, observing own reactions in the times of distress and comparing own achievements with the achievements of the group as a whole on several issues of importance. This self-analysis also bring out the aptitude of a candidate.

A detailed self-analysis provides one with a deep and fruitful insight into hidden potentials and strengths and weaknesses, which would assist a candidate to choose a career. For instance the strength could lie in educational and professional qualifications, experience, moral strength, ability to convince people, business acumen and aptitude, capacity and quest for producing results etc. Similarly, the weaknesses could be in terms of qualifications, lack of experience, lack of self-confidence, lack of confidence in dealing with people etc. An objective analysis will ensure selection of a proper direction to one's career. After choosing one of the three paths, the candidates can set goals to be achieved by them in a given time frame.

 
General Awareness

An essential pre-requisite for excelling in any of the career paths is through preparation at the pre-entry stage. Professionally and technically one has to be absolutely sure of oneself. In addition, general awareness of the environmental variables is a must. This awareness includes knowledge about day to day science, about the socio-political system, economic planning, budgeting process, economic geography, current happenings in the country as well as in the world etc. Such an awareness cannot be acquired overnight and needs constant input over years. Regular reading of standard newspapers and competition magazines right from the student days is required. A sharp mind with a detailed knowledge of the environment around is bound to succeed in any sphere ranging from self-employment to the Government service. In case of competitions and interviews for the Government jobs, such awareness goes a long way in helping a candidate to succeed by having edge over others. Same is true for getting selected for a private job. In case of self-employment, a person fully conversant with surroundings and environment political, social and economic, is bound to succeed and put his/her competitors in shade.

A candidate who is technically and professionally fully equipped to take on the challenges of life and is confident of handling the situation on the basis of his/her knowledge, is bound to stand ahead above others in every walk of life.

 
How to make career decisions through Self Assessment?

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your lifetime. By aligning your career choice with your interests, natural abilities and highest values, you'll be on the road to get what you most want, and enjoy it to the boot.

Self-assessment is the first step of the career planning process. It is the process of gathering information about you, in order to make an informed career decision.

A self-assessment should include a look at the following :

  • Values : The things that is important to you, like achievement, status, and autonomy.
  • Interests : What you enjoy doing, i.e. playing golf, taking long walks, hanging out with friends.
  • Personality : A person's individual traits, motivational drives, needs, and attitudes.
  • Skills : The activities you are good at, such as writing, computer programming, teaching.

The most common refrain among students is this one: "I don't know what I want to do. Is there a test or something that can tell me what career is right for me?" The answer is no. You cannot take a test that will, as if by magic, tell you what to do with the rest of your life. You can, however, use a combination of self-assessment tools that will aid you in your decision.

Self-Assessment is an opportunity to ask the question, "who am I?" and begin creating a professional identity. It is a self-evaluation, defining, and clarification process. Self-assessment is a process that will occur periodically throughout your life.

 
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