How students and parents should become street-smart in career planning

Career guidance is a big street-smart art in itself. There are so many important points that need to be taken into consideration. It is not a one-off activity. Some actions need to be taken by parents and students. At a later stage, the student has to decide for himself or herself. Some nuances of such street-smart preparatory actions to plan a career are discussed in this article.


Picture this situation. The young boy's maternal uncle was a mechanical engineer. The boy was only in standard seven. Yet, he wanted to know how the uncle studied mechanical engineering. The uncle put on his thinking cap. He took the young boy to a factory and showed how the product was manufactured. Since he knew the factory manager, permission was not difficult to get. The youngster put on a helmet for the first time in his life. He also wore a small size safety boot, purchased by the uncle.

Such meticulous planning motivated the youngster to keep reading some basic books on mechanical engineering. He had the glorious guidance of another family friend, who also worked as a mechanical engineer. Since he was too good in mathematics, he went on to do his mechanical engineering from the prestigious NIT, Tiruchirapalli ( reputed to be the best in India, even today) and then worked in a factory of a global MNC. He quit after four years and wanted a change. Armed with an MBA degree from the prestigious ISB, Mohali, he is in a senior position in Supply Chain Management with Mahindra Logistics.

The aforesaid true story is one example of a street-smart approach. Not everyone may be lucky but these are days when the most advanced information is made available through the internet. The search engines do everything for you. However, what you need to note is to follow these steps.

These steps are a) Start very early b) Be very clear on career prospects c) Be firm in the plus two level d) Align studies abroad to career goals and e) Have life-long learning as a goal.

Start very early

The aforesaid example is how Career planning should pan out. The clear strengths of the child should be clearly identified at a very young age. Is your child very good in debates, in essay competitions, poetry, and is an extrovert? Does he or she exhibit an insatiable urge to express himself or herself? As a parent, you need to encourage all such innate talents to the maximum talent. It is fine if the child is above average in studies. Do not push your desires on him or her. Get the child to do the B.Sc( Visual Communication) course at the Loyola College, Chennai. Send him abroad for a Master's degree in Media and Event Management in the USA. This is the ideal career for your child.

Parents have a vital role in planning the careers of their children. And they should start early when the child is in the seventh or eighth standard.

Be very clear on career prospects

When the child is in the standard seven or eight, it is but natural that he or she is immature. However, the planting of the seed has to start right at that age. He or she should be made to interact with significant achievers in the family and elsewhere on week-ends. It is quite possible that the child will be able to gather good information. If the child is too good in English, no problem. Take the child to an accomplished teacher who also holds a doctorate degree and significant teaching experience. Only then can the child and the parents be very clear about career prospects.

Every field has its own pluses and minuses. However, fields like zoology or geology or geography, have limited career options. The child has to be clear about the various steps he or she needs to take to reach the pinnacle of glory in these fields.

Be firm in the plus two levels

There have been cases reported in the USA when a qualified chartered accountant from India, went on to become a highly accomplished expert in Organizational Behavior. One such was Prof. Pradeep Khandwala, former director of the IIMA, who holds a doctorate in the subject from a US University.

India does not have that luxury, even today. At the plus two-level, one has to be very careful in choosing the course pattern. If your child is interested in commerce, there is nothing wrong. Only thing is that he or she has to become a chartered accountant or a cost accountant or a company secretary. Today, the topping with the CIMA or CFA or CMA courses, from abroad, can be done right here in India. There is also the ACCA course. One should be very clear about all such courses at the plus one level itself. Hence, parents have a big role to play in this game-changing decision of their child.

Align studies abroad to career goals

Let us take a good example. For example, if the student has already obtained a good mechanical engineering degree from a good IIT, it does make sense to pack him or her for further studies abroad in highly specialized courses. These do pertain to highly specialized technology-related courses. To give some examples, robotics, advanced SAP, Oracle Financials, Machine learning and the like. One should appreciate that even our IITs may not have the same kind of inputs that are available abroad. In robotics, for example, there are many students who have had excellent internships in the best of organizations where such applications are available on a better scale. It is here that being street smart in terms of gathering the right information and the right slots for studies abroad, can help a great deal.

This is an important step and it is the joint effort of the student and the parent. The boy or girl is no more a child. He or she would be able to understand everything. It is here that vital information needs to be documented, debated and decisions taken. Educational loans for the best university education abroad is now quite easy to get.

Have life-long learning as a goal

If one would think that a good engineering degree or post-graduate degree is enough, that is rather not quite in tune with modern trends. Take the first example quoted above. The youngster quit his job with the MNC and went on to do an MBA from the prestigious ISB. Having cut his teeth in production, it did make sense to move on to supply chain management, a profession where the scope is global and the challenges extremely interesting. The scope is widening every day. Such life long learning is the new "in-thing". It is the new gateway to success.


Gone are the days when careers happened "just like that". Today, the competitive landscape of jobs and careers does dictate that the process of career planning has to progress in a highly planned manner. It is a fact that there is so much to learn at every stage. Each of the aforesaid steps discussed above has a good scope for innovation. The time to act is now.


Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao12 Mar 2020 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 8

I appreciate the author for the points he has suggested for a person to be smart enough to think about his career early and plan according to that.

When I was in high school one of my relatives who was a post-graduate in Chemistry and working in a big chemical factory used to visit our house. He used to come in a four-wheeler those days. After seeing him I thought I should also work in a company like that. I started concentrating on the Science subject. He used to advise me not to stop education with PG and advised me to go for a PhD. From then onwards I was firm on my decision and joined B.Sc after my intermediate even though I got a seat in Engineering. That strong determination helped me a lot and I am able to see that my wish is fulfilled. I was a Director (Operations) for a good chemical company for long.

The stronger your mindset the greater the chances. So be strong. Take a decision when you are in your intermediate and then decide on the group you want to choose. Consult your parents, take the opinions of other people who are working and close to you. See whether their suggestions and your interests match and then go ahead. Don't go for a subject in which you have no interest. You should plan your studies based on your career plans. So don't think that we will think about the job after completing our studies. That will be wrong planning and you will suffer a lot.

There is no end for studies. Every day is a new day and you will have new chances. So always keep updating the knowledge and be in touch with the latest developments.

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