Career is an elusive word. All of us want a great career yet there are merely a few who understand what it entails. The indefinable nature of the word stems from discrepancies in its several interpretations and uses in common lore. For example, a widely used interpretation of the word equates it to a job that a professional holds for a considerable duration of his/her professional life. However, what if a professional were to jump jobs or even industries every alternate year? Would it mean that he/she didn’t have a career at all? Or is there a deeper, more intricate meaning of the word that is not appropriately captured in the above interpretation?
The Indian education system as well as the Indian middle class in general have a uni-dimensional approach to comprehending what a career is. The widespread notion among these communities is that a career is a static function.
Let me explain- A function is a mathematical tool that accepts a single variable, or a combination of several variables as input and produces an output after performing the requisite operation. In the Indian education context, the input variables typically include a student’s marks in school exams, scores for other aptitude exams the student has participated in previously, feedback from the teachers, and most importantly, societal norms. These inputs are then operated upon and evaluated to churn out one of the three distinct fields in high school education, namely ‘Science’, ‘Commerce’, and ‘Arts’. Upon doing so, science students are further bifurcated into two such dominant fields namely ‘engineering’ and ‘medicine’. This framework has been called ‘static’ because it suggests a generic solution without considering the nuances of individualistic traits that are critical to a successful career. Moreover, the said framework has refused to evolve, churning out the same results year after year, further solidifying its static epithet.
A key variable that is largely ignored in such a static analysis, and arguably the most critical in deciding a student’s career is known as ‘passion’. Passion is a qualitative measure that gauges a student’s level of interest in a particular domain. It is important because careers tend to flourish when built upon a robust foundation of passionate effort. But what if you don’t know what you’re passionate about? I’d say it’s perfectly reasonable not to. Surprisingly, most of us aren’t aware of our passions, aspirations, or motivations for our careers, which is understandable considering that we’ve been subjected to the static framework for years. It’s natural to be confused and to feel lost in an endless maze. But one must walk down a path of consistent effort to be able to find one’s dream career.
The best way to go about finding your passion is to try out everything under the Sun; to go beyond your comfort zone and expand it. This path can be long and tumultuous. But the key is to keep moving till you do find the light that you’re looking for. You may not get all the answers but you will figure out what drives you; the kind of work that inspires you to do your absolute best. As a student or a young professional, it is all you realistically need.
Another effective tool in an individual’s arsenal is Career Counselling. Career counselling, in simple terms, suggests the right career for you based on a wide array of variables that you plug into the counselling system as an input. These variables typically range from concrete quantitative measures such as your grades to more qualitative ones including your behavioral tendencies and motivations. Career counselling is effective because it operates without a preconceived bias towards any particular field. As a result, you have a system that analyses your mind as well as your emotions and determines the best career for you from a gigantic repository of active careers operating in the market. With such an advanced tool, students and young professionals today have a golden opportunity to be able to determine the right career for them early on.
In case you’re still wondering, a career signifies growth without limitations irrespective of the field that you’re in. A fulfilling career is one in which you grow both personally as well as professionally. Both these aspects must be in perfect harmony for you to be able to yield the best results in the long term. Pursuing a career, you’re not passionate about can result in burning out early on and a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, which is increasingly evident in our youth today. It’s high time for students and young professionals today to correlate their careers with their passions, to be able to lead a healthy and prosperous life.