As a child and all through my formative years, the most common question thrown at me pertained to what I wished to be when I grew up. From age five onwards, at regular intervals it came up in conversations and greetings. I responded with a variety of answers depending upon my interest at that time and the person posing the question.
I realised very early on in life, that I could manipulate a person’s reaction with my response. I would blurt out serious professions, such as “doctor’’, “engineer” and “pilot” to impress people.
When I was in the tenth grade, the very thought of my career gave me a scare, and nobody dared to ask me that question. This was because I was known to openly demonstrate my agitation by snapping back. Opting for the subjects that I enjoyed studying for the higher secondary, I focused my energies on academics without worrying about career choices for the next two years.
Time flew and there was never a free moment to introspect, research and plan my career. Luckily, I knew what I didn’t want to do, and based on that I joined college and hoped that the broad-based curriculum that I was pursuing would open multiple roads for me.
Before college was over, I worked systematically to chalk out my career path.
I followed these points and achieved fabulous results.
1. Know yourself
There are scientific ways to know yourself, such as psychometric tests, brain mapping, and so on. Moreover, summer internship programmes, voluntary work and taking leadership positions in school helped in self-discovery.
2. Make a list of occupations to explore
More often, a person misses on certain possibilities because of lack of awareness and relevant knowledge. Listing opportunities after having researched extensively and then going through the list carefully will help you broaden your outlook for a wise decision-making procedure.
3. Perform a SWOT analysis
Using the SWOT tool — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats— against each head on the list will help you shortlist. Though a time-consuming task, if done meticulously this will ensure great results.
4. Conduct informational interviews
By speaking to people in different professions you will get first-hand information about different careers, especially growth opportunities and challenges specific to different industries. After having shortlisted your choices, meeting more and more people relevant to those choices will help you further in the decision-making process.
5. Make your career choice
The next step is to make a choice after considering the above. Here, you must keep a strict time-frame and not delay the process to avoid losing the pulse of research.
6. Know your goals
Identify your long-term and short-term goals to plan the next step after having made a career choice. This is very important, as it will clear your vision and help you plan your career graph. Where to start, where to reach in five years and where to be in ten years’ time.
7. Record and document everything in writing
A written plan of action supersedes all the above points. By writing down your plans, you will find yourself way ahead in the process of execution. Moreover, it will act as a road map to reach your milestones. It will help you visualise a crystal clear path towards your career.