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How to Choose Your Best Career Path

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1untitledThe quarter-life crisis is real, and many young Indians are experiencing it. Seventy-seven percent of new college graduates in India quit their first jobs within a year of graduation, often because they’re not happy with the career path they’ve chosen, or the organization they’ve joined.

Many young Indians feel pressured into STEM fields like engineering or medicine, but there are a number of career options available to youth today. Your career should be more than just a way to earn money; it should allow you to do things you’re good at in a field that interests you. When you choose a career based on your aptitudes and interests, you’ll be happier in your work, and more likely to succeed.

Know Yourself

The first step in choosing your best career path is to get to know yourself, and to understand your own interests and aptitudes. Your parents or elders may be pressuring you to become a doctor or an engineer, but if you’re no good at math and aren’t interested in science, you’re unlikely to find success in that career. You’ll have to work a lot harder to succeed in your studies if you’re not naturally adept at the material, but if you choose a field that matches your aptitudes, your hard work will seem a lot easier and get you a lot further. Even if you worked harder than others and did well in a field that didn’t suit your aptitudes, you’d be facing a lifetime of going to work every day in a field that doesn’t interest you.

So, in choosing a career path, think about what naturally interests you and what you’re naturally good at. If you’re not sure what professions appeal to you, try keeping a career journal. Whenever you encounter a career option that seems appealing, write it down in your career journal. Also write down:

  • Any questions you may have about the profession;
  • What you expect to be doing on a daily basis in this job;
  • What your goals would be for the profession.

To learn more about your own aptitudes, speak to your university’s career counselor about taking a career aptitude test. Think about which subjects in school are your strongest, and what hobbies you enjoy most. Talk to people who know you well about where your strengths and weaknesses are. The information you obtain can help you choose a career that suits your disposition.

Know Your Options

12untitledOnce you have some idea of what you’re good at and what interests you, you can begin researching the career paths that you’ve written about in your career journal. Before you take steps to begin training for a specific career, such as enrolling in an engineering program or an online MBA program, you need to be sure that you’re eligible for the career you want, and that the career you want is really the career you want.

First, learn about eligibility requirements for your chosen career path(s). You may need to reach a certain age, have a certain level of educational attainment or a certain degree, or meet certain physical requirements in order to be eligible for the career you want. For example, if you want to be a pilot in the Indian Air Force, you will need to have good eyesight. If your eyesight does not meet the requirements, you will not be eligible for this career, no matter how well you may meet other requirements.

Second, make sure that you know what you’re getting into with your career choice. Get out the questions and expectations you wrote down in your career journal, and talk to elders who are already following the career path you want to take. Find out if your expectations and goals for the career are realistic. What is a typical day on the job like? How many hours will you typically work each day or week? What kind of work does the career involve? What kinds of people will you work with? Does the career involve travel? How easy will it be to get married and have a family while working in this career? Write down what you learned in your career journal and compare it to the expectations and goals you wrote down when you didn’t know as much about the career path. When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll better understand whether a specific career path is right for you.

In many ways, the choice of a career path is the biggest decision a young person can make. The career you choose will influence the course of your entire life, and will determine not only your salary, but your levels of satisfaction and happiness. Consider what appeals to you, what you’re good at, and what you want out of other areas of your life when choosing a career, so you can make a choice you won’t regret.


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