Career or heart!?!What's the right choice?

These days I’ve seen a longstanding queue in front of career counselors’ offices. Many people want to get their MBTIs and aptitude tests done to find out the “right” career choice for them. While there’s nothing wrong with getting these tests done, what’s worth considering is that it’s the parents who are driving these queues rather than the students themselves. Even when it’s the students, it’s mostly the pressure of being in the ‘perfect’ career that makes them be on their edge, and spend so lavishly on these tests which may sometimes bring out to fore what you’re good at (if you already don’t know about it). I’m not against using these tests at all, but it should really be considered whether you need one if you know yourself- your strengths and weaknesses, optimally. 

Now the question also arises is that after spending a good chunk of money on a test that tells you something about ‘you’, should you follow it to the point that you even crush your dreams and aspirations? Well, if you ask me, today’s world is too much biased toward what’s right and what’s not and leaves no space for mistakes. However, what one forgets all this while is that, in actuality, it’s only a matter of perspectives, and that without errors, one seizes to grow. The same happens with careers.

In today’s world, where every few years have started to mark a new generation, thanks to the ever-developing technology and advancements, careers are also growing much the same way. With every year, as new careers are being added owing to the research and development in different fields, many are getting obsolete as well. Some are likely to fetch more money, while some are less. However, the price one pays to get a good-paying job is also to be considered. While some tasks may require the employees to really slog through their days, some may require most presence regardless of the time zone, and some lucky ones may get a decent time for themselves while being on the job as well. So, it’s very important to know and be clear-headed about what one’s aiming at. Is it just the monetary aspect that motivates the person most? Does one need frequent breaks and relaxation intervals? Can one work in different time zones? Is it something one wants for themselves? Is it something the friends are doing and hence, the pressure or fear of not being left out? Is it something that the parents want? Is it something that you want to do to prove yourself? The person should be clear about “why” they want to do something and following that path becomes very easy. Clarity also brings with it a lot of mental peace. I believe, this is where one can take help and guidance.

Help can be sought to understand the ongoing trends and requirements in the market. The experts in career counseling and guidance can guide the varied streams and options one can pick and choose from. They even help to bring clarity as to what field is suitable under what circumstances or scenarios. Instead of the rosy picture, a good career counselor will present all the faces of that career. One can take tests to ascertain and be sure whether their investment in a particular field would do them good in course of time or not.

Basic clarity can also be brought by introspection and taking some guidance from people who know the student well- in personal as well as in school set-up. SWOT analysis is one technique that can help here. SWOT- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. While strengths and weaknesses are innate to a person, opportunities and threats are determined by the environment. It is the interaction of all these that determine the success of the result. Once one is aware of these basic things, the aim should be to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses and try to use the environment in an opportunistic way while keeping the threats at bay. People who are closely related and have seen one function or operate in the environment sometimes can help the students by highlighting to them their noticeable attributes which can thereby be placed in the respective category. Strengths can be creatively utilized in one’s stream and a career made out of it when the right opportunities exist. For example, in the Covid-19 scenario, many people started mass production of masks, sanitizers, disposable gloves, testing kits, and many other medical products and equipment. There was even an escalation in the food deliveries and people saw a rise in the list of home-bakers and cooks who offered small home-made food items and got them delivered.

At the same time, it is to be considered that what one usually grows up studying at the basic primary and high school level of education is entirely different from what one studies when one decides to choose that field as their mainstream. Many high school students who used to excel in science complain about finding it different from expectations and therefore lose interest in it later on. Their grades may also suffer as a consequence. Therefore, it is advisable to do some research in the area. Seniors and their experiences can help bring a pragmatic viewpoint. One can even talk to people who are pursuing that career or are in the field already experiencing it. As they say, some research is always good. One should at least do their fair share of research before deciding to invest their time in years and obviously the hard-earned money of the parents into a particular career option.

Then again, there are people who have been in different career streams but decide to jump on something else- and then they excel at it. No harm in having a later understanding of what one seeks. It’s better late than never. Undoubtedly, there’ll be a lag, but nothing that can not be overcome with time. Sometimes, the skill one acquires while following a particular stream can be utilized in the other stream that one switches to. No knowledge and experience go waste. It will only add more credits and experience. One can also come up with something unique and original combining the two! 

Hence, it’s the balance that’s needed more so- in what one is capable and good at doing, and what one really wishes to do- so that the work is not a punishment for the rest of one’s life, and definitely, it shouldn’t be a punishment for those hiring you on duty too- so you better be good at it, or at least, tolerable (“wink”) .

-Priyanka Malhotra

 Psychologist, life coach