Reasons why young Indians get confused in their career orientation


If one compares those graduating from the IITs and IIMs and the other top 20 good institutions with those from lesser known institutes, one sees that in the case of the latter they are literally thrown into careers where there is a big mismatch between what they are and what is expected. Understanding this mismatch can throw some light on the nature of confusion in their career orientation. This can help us to counsel them to the extent possible. This is the focus of this article.

Introduction

It is very common to find engineers working as bank clerks. One can also find biologists, chemists, graduates in psychology, sociology and so on. Most of them also know that if they go on to do their doctorate, they can land up in good teaching jobs. Family situations and circumstances force them to take up such jobs. How they manage to do their jobs is a perfect study in job dissatisfaction.

Nevertheless, understanding the nature of mismatches can help us understand how the confusion occurs in career orientation at various levels. This has particular reference to a) confusion in career orientation at the indiviual level b) confusion in career orientation at the company level c) role conflict and resulting confusion in career orientation d) organizational issues in career orientation and e) confusion in career orientation due to family problems.

Confusion in career orientation at the individual level

A classic confusion occurs for fresh graduates. Even in cases where the parents can afford the cost of higher education in reputed colleges, the temptation to take on a job immediately is very powerful. Those from English medium jobs get around Rs25,000 or more in good BPO jobs. The confusion is more when there is a herd mentality and the guy s friends are all into such jobs. Since even fairly good MBA colleges wait till November to take on the fresh batch of students, ( the takers are far less when compared to the demand), the moment the young man sees his friends roaming around in fancy bikes and with at least one girl friend, the temptation becomes better. More often than not, such guys change from one BPO job to another, without any aim. They get stuck in BPO jobs.

Yet another confusion occurs when they decide to shift to IT but are not sure what course to do. A very fresh MCA was referred to this author. From IT experts, he was informed that a course in cloud computing would get her a good job. Both the girl and her father were receptive. Though the course costed her Rs35,000 in a good private institute, the girl now has a job on hand, with a gross salary of around Rs20k for a start. With experience, she is bound to go places and earn good salaries. This author has seen hundreds of such young women either do such courses or jump into BPO jobs and then quickly shift. The social distractions among women are very less when compared to men. This is a big plus too.

For the rural or semi urban area graduates, who are generally first generation learners, the toss is between getting involved in a big way in agriculture, along with their parents, or going towards the cities in search of jobs. There are wiser graduates who manage both. On all week ends and other holidays they go back to their villages if they are around 200 kilometres from the city. For more distances, the visits are twice a month.

They work in basic BPO jobs with more than adequate knowledge of their mother tongue and attend special classes on spoken English. Hence, over a period of time they even graduate to basic level IT jobs. However, there are cases where the confusion persists for a very long time. Those with specialized hardware skills move towards smaller towns and manage some entrepreneurship. The best career advice that can be given to such individuals is that they should make use of every opportunity. They just cannot sit idle.

Confusion in career orientation at company level

This confusion occurs at the company level. Those who are stuck in routine accounting jobs, for example, get fed up quickly. For, they are only doing what they are always doing as a matter of routine. Three such men were referred to this author for career guidance. It turned out that all the three were very lazy men who never wanted to study further as they were in regular jobs with fairly good comfort zones. The frustration was with their jobs. One was even promoted. However, he continued to do the same job.

This author had a one to one session with all the three men. He advised the first fellow to seek a transfer to the Coimbatore city corporate office. This happened so quickly. None in the sugar factory in the remote location wanted to move out. Once done, he was advised to immediately register for the ICWA course which he did. It so happened that the girl he was getting married to belonged to a business family. He had good motivation. He passed the inter examination and moved to a better company within the same group. Within five years, he wrote a bank examination and was selected to work in a private sector bank. The second fellow was very lazy. Yet, when his wife was also involved in the counseling, he changed a bit. His wife, who had some relative in distant Ahmedabad, offered to migrate to that city. This fellow also got a good job in a famous trading concern. He soon switched track and went into supply chain management. The third fellow was advised to move towards Chennai, where his brother was willing to support him. His brother already had a trading business in hardware. This fellow joined him and found his new interest.

What follows as a lesson is that there are alternatives. If someone is stuck in dead end jobs, there are always alternatives that one should explore. Moving to a new city can be very useful too.

Role conflict and resulting confusion in career orientation

This often occurs when the individual is sort of trapped in a role which is totally at odds with his natural talent and flair as well. In one case, a middle level HR executive was asked to just co-ordinate all routine training activities. There was hardly any scientific identification of training needs when he was entrusted with this responsibility. He brought in a systematic approach. However, he was always confronted with a major problem: the line executives would never spare their employees for any sort of training. They would only be bothered about production targets. The HR executive requested a transfer back to the industrial relations role. This was not agreed to the boss who was afraid that he would stand to lose his identity. The younger person was too good in building rapport with all employees. The boss was keen on always creating small disturbances. He wanted to be seen as a hero who was capable of solving practical problems.

The younger person took a risk and joined a competitor organization in a different location. He got a much better nature of job with good responsibilities. Similar role conflicts can also occur when one sees corruption being carried out by bosses. The best can one do is to keep away from all such corruption. There are numerous instances when a person can never quit a settled job for family reasons. The best option is to never compromise and just do one' s duty. This will help him in his career.

Organizational issues in career orientation

These issues occur when there is a massive cost cutting that goes on. This happens in many IT organizations. The age group is 40 to 42. Somehow or the other, the Managements send many people out. When there is a merger, there is every possibility of fresh blood coming in from the bigger organization with far better ideas. They will seek to change everything. The individuals in the former smaller organization often prefer to quit and join competitors. This is fine. However, such switches should not occur for mere increase in salary. The "basket of experiences" concept is very relevant here. This simply means that the individual should have experience in a great many areas and not just one or two. For instance, young MBAs from premier institutions join as Executive Assistants or Secretaries to dynamic CEOs. This is deliberately done to give them exposure to the vital Strategic Management function. After four years, they take up both marketing and operations oriented roles in the same or different organizations. These are simply very good career moves.

The moral of such stories is that career confusion can be easily avoided with a little tact and spirit of adventure. There are very smart guys who deliberately shift to new cities. The children get to learn new languages and different cultures and also adapt to changing situations later in their lives.

This often occurs in India. A single major illness like cancer makes the family poorer by ten hundred thousand rupees. The PF contribution is gone. Some jewelry gets sold too. Some dirty bosses in some companies take huge advantage of such situations and literally load the individual with too much on non-value adding work. Family pressures might force the individual to compromise.

However, it may still be wise to move on. The concept of gratuity may soon be gone in India. The younger professionally qualified CAs and MBAs or those with the MS degree from USA are not willing to compromise. They will never do so. Even if there are huge family problems, they will still find out ways to manage. The younger lot of employees who do not possess such qualifications, should better take the plunge and qualify themselves. Even office assistants, for example, can do the ACS course and go on towards far better jobs.

Good career orientation is not rocket science. It is not so simple either. One has to understand all the realities of the external environment and decide on risks that can and should be taken at some point in time. Hence, if there is any career confusion that is quite possible under a given set of circumstances, a corrective action needs to be taken quickly.

Conclusion

Irrespective on whatever confusion is there at different stages or situations, corrective actions can always be taken. Decide whatever is best for you. But every single individual needs to note that with increased supply of MBAs, the managerial universe will start becoming very competitive. Professional qualifications are a must in modern times.


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