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How to Choose your Career

by Chetna Vasishth

I recently came across this term called ‘Quarter life crisis’ which depicts the challenges you face while choosing your career. It’s probably one of the biggest decisions you have ever made and the enormity of it stresses you out.

So, I will make this easy for you. I will give you just 5 simple questions that will take you to your dream career – and just in case that scares you, I will also give you ideas on how to find the answers. At at the end I will give you one bonus tip as well.

Before I give you the 5 questions to help you choose your career

a) Relax, don’t be driven by fear and anxiety.
b) Do not be influenced by your neighbour’s son or your chachi’s daughter
c) Remember that you are unique, you have your own special mission and all you need to do is discover it but I will make this really easy for you


1. How do I find my unique strength?

Ok, let’s face it, we like many things, but we don’t know what our passion is? And let me tell you a secret, most people on this planet do not know what that one single career is they want to pursue for the rest of their lives.
But do you know what’s worse than not knowing your passion,,, it is being told to follow it. If someone had asked me back in school to follow my passion, I might have been still dribbling a basketball in my backyard.

So let’s make this easy. Go grab a notepad and a pen and let’s try to figure out our unique strength by thinking about these things –

a) What do people tell me I am good at?
b) What do people ask me to teach them?
c) What am I willing to do for long hours, even if I am tired?
d) Do I feel energised after meeting people or does it exhaust me?
e) Am I a thinker or a do-er?

This is what we will discover about ourselves through these questions

a) Our skills, interests and aptitude like writing, editing movies or solving complex math problems.
b) Our experience – like web desigining, accounting, programming and also
c) Our personality traits like extroverted, analytical, creative

If you don’t get everything instantly, it’s ok. Stay with the questions for a few days and keep populating the list as you go


2. What Careers are suited to me?

Here is where you might have to do some research. Look up job websites like naukri and LinkedIn – try to map the skills and experience required to yours.
e.g. if you like people interaction, look at jobs like a doctor, police officer, HR Manager, teacher, sales person etc.
e.g. if you are creative – look at jobs like UI/UX design, architecture, film making, special effects creator, make up artist etc.

Keep this list dynamic, while looking closely at what skills you already have and what is the missing element.

3. How can I be sure?

In Silicon valley, there is a term called MVP (Minimum Viable Product). The smallest chunk of product that a start up can develop to find out whether or not to invest large sums of money into that idea. Similarly, we need to look for those small things that we can do to discover our dream job, before we take the plunge into it whole hog

So here are some ideas to get our feet wet – internships, shadowing someone, voluntary work, making conversation with real people – talking to them about their work, asking them about the parts they love and hate about their work. Also join a lot of clubs and meet ups – meet real people!

Also, there short courses and online courses available to get introduced to a topic e.g. web designing, spa management, tea tasting, sports law, food flavouring, pup grooming, scuba diving instructor, environmental biologist, physiotherapy etc.
While I was in my banking job I taught at IIM Bangalore as a visiting faculty on the weekends to discover if the education sector was the place I would like to be. You can do stand up comedy or become a DJ on weekends.


4. What is the core of this career?

Always answer this one question before jumping into it. e.g. The core of Economics is math, the core of Bio medical engineering is actually mechanical and electrical engineering, the core of law is reading and listening, more than arguing.
Sometimes, we think we want to be an RJ because we are a good speaker, we are spontaneous and enthusiastic. But it turns out that is just a part of our work, what we really need is a deep knowledge about a particular domain or about music.
One other benefit of knowing the core of that career is that you can focus on a few things in order to be successful. Seth Godin in his book ‘The Dip’ says that pursuing a skill always becomes difficult or boring after sometime, and success comes when you are able to persist through this dip. If the core is mapped to your own unique strengths, you will find the grit and determination to succeed.


5. Is this career Future-proof?

There are a few things that will help you with this answer
a) What does the world need ? Look at industries that are performing well and are projected to perform well in the near future – e.g. technology, healthcare / pharma, energy, education, food, politics, media, transportation etc. Think into the future before choosing your industry
b) Which fields are likely to get replaced by AI in the near future?
b) Project the career forward e.g. with a CA degree you could do a private practice if you like, with a law degree also that is possible. With an engineering degree you would need to work in a manufacturing set up


Bonus Tip

Beware of the wrong reasons – people want to be an investment banker because they think they will get a big house and a car. True success at work comes from picking a job that plays to your natural skill sets, potential for success and personality’. Which means that if you are good at something, you have a greater chance at excelling at it
Remember that finding your dream job and perfect career is a journey and sometimes you have to kiss many frogs before finding your prince charming.

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