A career counsellor is needed to chalk out the right combination for each student considering the strengths and weaknesses Image: Thinkstock
What do you want to be when you grow up? Ah! The damned question that haunts every teen. It can come from your immediate family or from distant relatives, but one thing's for sure — you are bound to be bombarded with such queries till you give them a definitive answer. But the more important question is, do you at all know the answer?
Remember the 3 Idiots scene, where the designated career choice for a boy upon birth was engineering and for a girl a doctor? Ain’t that how the kids from the '80s, spending their teens in the '90s, felt like? Add lawyer and civil servants to the mix, and people had some variation.
"Arts? Well, who studies that?" was the foremost thought in most parents' minds. Science or commerce were the two most respected fields. And to be honest, when the concept of the World Wide Web was born, many had already joined the herds of to-be-engineers/doctors/lawyers.
Deciding career choices has been (and still continues to be) a process that is meticulously concluded only after a thorough discussion with family and friends. Back in the '90s, it was more about discussions with that uncle or cousin or elder sibling or teachers who handed out career advice. Options were limited.
Cut to the present, there are thousands of careers to choose from, each equally enticing and with a certain pull. But how do you know what’s THE option for you? That's where professional career counselling steps in.
Enlightening us further about its significance is Harshit Shah, co-founder of career consulting institute — Pursuit Career Managers. He says, "The numbers of options available are increasing rapidly. We have new courses introduced every month. Most of these aim at providing specialisation but due to absence of highly skilled teachers, most of the courses fail to achieve that purpose. From a student’s perspective there are hundreds of options to choose from, which has added to the confusion. Asking seniors does not make sense as they can only talk about the course they have done but cannot compare it with the other options available in the market. For e.g. my senior from BMS can comment whether BMS is good or not but she won’t be in a position to compare it with BBA or any other field. That’s where a career advisor helps a lot. With detailed research about all the options available, s/he can compare each of them and give proper suggestions about what is right and wrong."
Another aspect that has changed is the fact that education today, like so many other things, is a business. It's one of the most lucrative businesses these days, second maybe only to health care. "There are numerous coaching classes that have come up, which sell education degrees playing on students' FOMO. They advertise in such a way that students feel that if they don’t take up the course they will miss out on something crucial, leading to problems in their careers. Courses are sold by certificate providers/institutes even if the course is of no use to a student. Most of these institutes have targets to fill and thus some of them also misrepresent or twist some facts to attract students. At such times, career advisors help students make a proper decision," he says.
Shah also talks about the increasing competition in the academic sphere, where being just a graduate simply doesn't help. "Everyone wants to do a Master's or PhD, as there is a huge discrepancy in demand and supply. There is a limited number of jobs available but enormous supply (of students) in our country. To get the best profiles, it is important to have an edge over the rest and thus students are interested in opting for certifications, diplomas etc that can complement their main degree. Thus a career counsellor is needed to chalk out the right combination for each student after considering the student's strengths, interests etc."
Students can, with the help of aptitude and personality tests (not the ones circling online just for fun) and doubt-clearing discussions with career counsellors, determine which field is their calling and where do they see their professional lives headed towards.
It was fairly easy for early millennials because Google baba and guidance centres came to our aid. It’s been made slightly easier for the teens now because the approach is more hands-on and innovative. There are new professions added to the list each day, and hobbies and interests are evolving as lucrative career avenues.
Though making the right choice is still left to students themselves, career counselling rightly facilitates the process of it. And believe it or not, it is the need of the hour. Because more the number of options to choose from, more is the resultant confusion.
But don't spend sleepless nights over right career planning, you have experts at hand to guide you the right way.