Introduction Career planning requires a lot of patience, understanding and tact. It is a life decision. It is not the end of the world when a career decision is taken. In fact, it is just the beginning. The most important tips in this direction will be a) never follow the herd mentality b) get all information about real world experiences d) learn the full scope of specializations e) take up an apprenticeship and f) constantly innovate to stay ahead of competitors.
Never follow the the herd It is always wise to never fall into this trap. You should not choose engineering merely because all your cousins are engineers. Choose what suits you best. It is called inner calling. This takes quite a while to realize. It is something that comes naturally to you. It is something that is part of your psyche naturally. It is something in which you are bound to do well.
Let this take this true real world example. Swetha was a very restless child even when she was in class five. However, her father noticed a remarkable talent in her to write poems. She would also talk extempore without any difficulty and she would naturally show all her instincts to jell well with her friends and relatives, as an extrovert. In her later years, her father noticed that her restlessness was related to her inner urge to be different. She never wanted to do what others told her. Her extra-curricular activities record was also good. In the plus two stage she choose commerce, as she was naturally inclined towards this specialization. However, she continued her passion of all her extra-curricular activities even more.
When the crucial decision came as to what to do next, the father very intelligently took her to an expert in the electronic media. This person was quick to spot her talent and suggested that she take up the BSc (Visual Communication) course at Loyola College, Chennai. She did exactly this. She had studied at Mangalore. She did so well and got a very good rank in her final examination.
After some initial experience in a leading television channel at Bangalore, she quickly shifted to a English news channel. She was quickly given managerial responsibilities. Her inter-personal skills made her go from strength to strength. Swetha's mother wanted her daughter to become a Chartered Accountant as her family had many such professionals.
This never happened. Swetha's father was the biggest positive influence in her life. Swetha never followed the herd.
You can also be very successful if you take serious attempts to understand your inner calling.
Get information about real world experiences The real world is the best laboratory to learn about careers. If you ask anyone who is already into a career in a chosen field of endeavor that you are attempting to get into, he or she will talk about all real world challenges, the pluses and the minuses about their lives and careers. If you feel that you can easily take on the challenge of the unknown, go into it. If you feel that you have what it takes to be successful in a particular field within the specialization and can also pick up additional skills when required, get into it.
For example, in the filed of Human Resources Management, many youngsters think that it is all about effective inter-personal relations. This is far from the truth. Modern Managements expect the professional to play their game. Recruit a huge number of people as apprentices or trainees. Keep them on contract. Institute a huge number of on-the-job training programs and so on. Do cost cutting all the way. While this is fine with the HR specialists, the line managers spend a huge amount on training others. This eats into their core time of production-related work. The HR Manager is left to handle all the inter-personal problems which even become more conflict driven.
So, it is wise to learn from the real world practicing managers and other experts.
Learn the scope of specializationsBy learning the scope of specializations you are actually far better placed in career planning. A Finance specialization does not mean mere accounting. It is all about cost cutting. Working Capital Management. Handling Initial Public Officers. Allocating resources and identifying waste of money. Identifying scope for new projects at less cost. Fresh acquisitions. The list is endless.
Hence, a specialization in Finance will mean that you become an expert in at least six different experiences. Make sure you have Corporate exposure as well. If you know the scope of your specialization, you would have taken a very good step in career planning. Even mid-career switches can be wisely made. For example,imagine you get a very good Corporate job in Mumbai. You are 42 years now. Kids in school in Mysore. Fine. Take a plunge. Keep the family where they are. Go to Mumbai as a married bachelor, more like going abroad. Gather the vital experience. You do not have a choice. The one company careers are now history.
Take up an apprenticeshipImagine you are a commerce graduate. You are still unemployed. Your father is still working. Your mother is a school teacher. Enough reason for you to just join any company as an unpaid apprenticeship. The company will happily take you on. Make your hands dirty by immersing yourself in whatever you will do. Learn from others. The hard knock of experience will soon get you a very good job. Interior design is exciting. However, if you do not know the tricks of the trade, you are a zero. Take up an apprenticeship. Even if you are unpaid, heavens will not fall. Nothing works in the real world like experience. Always keep this in mind.
Constantly innovate to stay ahead When you innovate constantly, you can stay far ahead of your competitors. Learn the pecking order in your organization. Volunteer to work with seniors by establishing a rapport with them. Chances are that your initiative will be appreciated. This is all the more so when the job involves data collection. Do it.
Likewise, volunteer to learn the entire gamut of experiences even if its very hard. Fight with the trade unions if you have to. Go and meet the Government authorities if you have to. Get involved in new projects as often as you can. If you look around, the opportunities to learn will be floating in all directions. The moment you know quite a lot about every aspect of the job, get ready to jump. A new job in a totally new environment will always help you to do so well in your career.
Some important general points - Never ever quit a dividend paying, profit making company and join a new project, even in a very senior position. The project may never take off at all. Do not jump jobs till your children reach the age of eight. This is because they need your personal attention and care at this stage. Even if you need to go to a new location, weigh all pros and cons. Like learning a totally new language. Your children need not undergo this stress at all.
Life has such challenges. Your career is important, but your family is important too. Hence, examine all issues threadbare and take a decision. Career planning is an art. Learn the basics totally.
All the best for a very eventful and successful career!