Human Organ Designer; Space Miner; Quantum Computing Specialist; Virtual Experience Designer? We can list 100s such careers which are emerging. And there would be 100s more we can’t even imagine today. This is no fiction! The smart new 21st Century brings in fascinating and incredible career options. How to choose a career then? What’s fit for you? What isn’t?
Apart from the emerging and futuristic career options, there would also be a risk of popular careers of today going obsolete in the future. So then what career to choose?
AI will replace a lot of jobs. Is your choice today one of them? For example, accounting jobs may totally be replaced by AI. Software programming jobs? Yes, AI would replace a lot of these. Given so much complexity, the question ‘how to choose my career’ becomes very relevant.
You must raise these questions for yourself to chart out a career path that will remain relevant in the future and which is the best fit for you.
What Career to Choose?
Step 1: Know yourself (Assessment)
- What are your true interests? What are your true personality traits or characteristics? What are you good at? What are your natural flairs or capabilities? What are your weaknesses?
- You have a fair amount of ideas about yourself. That’s correct. You have an idea about your strengths and weaknesses. But what do various careers require? Do you know in detail about those? It might not be possible for you to know so much. But you must get these answers so as to determine which career to choose.
- Do you know what interests are needed for success in various careers? John Holland, a renowned Psychologist and Professor with Johns Hopkins University, USA, proposed that people tend to select jobs in which they find the basic tasks they prefer to do, the environment they prefer, and the kind of people they want to be around with.
- Do you know that our personalities could be defined in terms of five characteristics or traits called The Big 5 Personality Traits? How are your personality traits? You must know for sure to understand how to choose a career that fits you the best.
- What are your capabilities? What are you good at? Mathematics? Language? Logical Reasoning? Which career you choose should depend upon your aptitudes or capabilities to a large extent. But the marks you get in school do not really reveal your strengths. Those reflect your academic achievements.
- How do you get the right assessment of your interests, personality, and aptitudes or capabilities? How do you know what’s truly you? There are career assessment tests which scientifically measure your interests, personality, and aptitudes and then give a comprehensive view about your real strengths, weaknesses, interests, and personality. This is the first step to find the answer to your query about how to choose a career.
Step 2: Explore Careers & Educate Yourself on Opportunities
- There are thousands of career pathways. Most of the career pathways have more than one specialized tracks under them. For example, the Civil Engineering career pathway gives you options in several specialized tracks such as Transportation Engineering, Water Resources Engineering, etc. Knowing about these helps you to decide what career to choose.
- A Banking career pathway offers several specialized tracks such as – Asset & Portfolio Management, Wealth Management, Retail Banking, Corporate Banking, Investment Banking, Credit Analysis, Financial Analysis, and so on.
- Do you know about these? There are over 550 mainstream careers which include conventional options, emerging options, and futuristic options. There are over 2500 specialization tracks. Which one fits you the best? Answer to your query about how to choose a career depends a lot upon how much you really know about various career options.
- Explore Careers from a career directory that has the up to date information on career profiles, job opportunities, earning opportunities, career growth, etc.
- What an ideal career directory must tell you about various career pathways are:
- Descriptions of job roles, tasks, duties, and responsibilities, work activities, future trends, etc.
- Specialization Tracks in a career pathway
- How could you build a career in a given pathway – step by step entry routes
- Education required how many years of studies, etc.
- Job opportunities – industries, sectors, job positions, companies, etc.
- Earning potentials
- Prospects (growth in the number of jobs)
- Career growth – job promotions, etc.
- Interests required
- Skills and knowledge required
- Aptitudes/Abilities required
- Personality traits required
- You may take help from mentors who have been there and done that. Meaning, they have worked in a particular career and have a lot of experience with their career profiles.
- This is important because if you could explore well, you will find careers that match or closely match your interest, aptitudes, and personality characteristics. This matching is crucial to resolve your queries about how to choose a career and which career to choose.
Step 3: Get Expert Views and Get Answers to Your Questions (you can do this after Step 1 too and a few other times as you make a decision about which career to choose)
- Once you have done the assessment as under step 1 above and you have explored various careers or just after your assessment is done, you should better talk with an expert Career Counsellor online or in person and get answers to your queries. You will have a lot of queries. You must get the answers to decide what career to choose.
- You may need to understand your assessment report well and may have a lot of questions to clarify what the report says.
- You may do career exploration well but honestly, there is a lot to know. There could be something about the educational options and career profiles that you may not fully understand. Seeking expert help is crucial in your quest about how to choose a career.
Step 4: Make a Well-Informed Decision
- If you can follow the above Steps 1 to 3 well, you will surely reach a stage when you can make a well-informed decision. To get the best answer to your query about which career to choose, do a lot of revisiting of the 2 as per your Assessment Report in Step 1.
- You will make a better decision if you remember that there could be more than one way to build a career which fits your preferences, interests, personality, and aptitudes. You will have to research the educational options well. You will have to consider what is possible for you and what is not.
- Career education, that you can get through multiple reiterations of Step 2 and 3 above, is extremely vital in the understanding of how to choose a career and apply the understanding.
Step 5: Set Your Goals and Make a Plan
- Once you have reached Step No. 4 as in above, you can then clearly define your goals – short term goals (what do you want to achieve within a year?), mid-term goals (what do you want to achieve within 2-3 years), and long-term goals (what do you want to achieve within 4-5 years).
- For example, if you are in Class 10, you may set your short-term goals as – (i) Score more than 90% in 10th Board Examination; (ii) Choose Humanities with Economics and Mathematics as 2 elective subjects in Class 11-12.
- Carrying on with the above example, your mid-term goals could be – (i) Score more than 90% in both Economics and Mathematics in 12th Board Exam and also more than 90% in aggregate; (ii) Secure an admission into a Bachelor’s degree course with Economics major in one of the top-ranked colleges in India.
- Remember that your goals must be SMART – meaning that your goal statements must be:
- Specific – the goal statement must be clear-cut which even your grandmother can understand.
- Measurable – the goal must be quantifiable such as, 90% marks, within 2 years, an admission into a B.Sc. Botany course, etc.
- Attainable – your goal must be something which you can achieve; for example, if you are not studying Mathematics in Class 11-12th, you may not be able to become a Data Scientist.
- Realistic – your goal must be realistic and practical. For example, if you are in class 10th today, you can’t become an Aeronautical Engineer in 5 years. It will take at least 6 years.
- Time-bound – your goal must have a deadline set into it. Without a specific time period, a goal is vague.
- Make a plan – once you have decided upon your goals, you must make a clear-cut step-by-step plan as to how to achieve your goals. This is an essential step in understanding of how to choose a career. Without a plan, you will be nowhere.
- Taking expert Career Counsellors’ advice during the process of goal-setting and action planning will make a lot of sense. You can also take the help of Mentors who have experience in the career path that you want to take.
Step 6: Revisit Your Goals and Plans
- Depending upon your progress on the career plans that you make for yourself, it will be important to revisit the plans and goals from time to time. It is important to check out your situation from time to time and make adjustments to your plans in order to achieve your goals.
- If you, in spite of your best of efforts, fail to achieve your goals, then you may need to re-assess yourself or may take help of expert Career Counsellors and Mentors. Expert Career Counsellors and Mentors can help you out to take a new course of action. This is a very crucial insight in your understanding of how to choose a career.
We live in a world where the future is largely uncertain due to the rapid changes in business and economy. Events like the CoVid pandemic, could make the future situations volatile and disrupt the best of the career plans. Therefore, mastering the art of career decision making, that is, knowing how to choose a career, is enormously important.
One cannot deny that today and more so in the future, doing well in studies alone cannot bring success and happiness. Keeping abreast of what’s happening in the world, how future work opportunities are emerging, and assessing your changing interests, personality, and abilities will be vitally important. You must learn how to make an informed career decision.
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After acquiring a bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Technology from Jadavpur University, Kolkata and a post graduate diploma in management, Dipankar has been working as an entrepreneurial leader in several roles across career guidance and higher education sector for over two decades with noteworthy achievements. After a brief stint in Management Consulting and HR Consulting, he set up a not-for-profit enterprise for offering career counselling services in Kolkata in 1995 and received a Fellowship from the Ashoka Foundation, USA for doing pioneering work in youth development. In his next stint, he played a key leadership role in establishing India’s first corporate enterprise in career counselling in Mumbai. Thereafter he worked in higher education administration and marketing roles and worked with remarkable success in establishing new institutions, launching new academic programs, and in education marketing. In his last stint with an Australia and India based career education organisation, he led a global team which built a multi-dimensional knowledgebase for career education and was part of the leadership team which launched several products and services for career education in India. In his leisure, Dipankar loves to read books on different subjects including fiction.