Chalking the Path- The Process of Choosing a Career
There is no dearth of career opportunities in India todayand a variety of options are available to a high schooler. In fact, from the time that we launched ParentEdge in July 2011, we have presented you with details of several careers as diverse as cryptology and psychology. In this First Anniversary Issue, the ParentEdge editorial team decided to look at the process of choosing a career – and what students and parents can do to make it more efficient and useful.
When and Why and How
In India, students are literally at the cross roads in Grade 10. Unlike in many other countries, where students have the option of studying a wide range of subjects, throughout their college careers, the majority of students in India have to choose early. This is because ‘streaming’ begins in higher secondary – maths with science, commerce and the humanities being the most common streams. Cautious and/or confused students hedge their bets by taking up the maths and science stream that opens up a student’s eligibility for most courses, while confident and/or decided students take up the streams of their choice.
Most students begin to show an inclination towards certain areas as they enter high school – some spend more time on their own on chosen subjects, others exhibit a flair for co-curricular activities (creative writing, sketching) – that can be clues to future career paths. A word of caution here – academic performance need not always be an indicator of motivation and passion. (More on this in Bangalore-based HR professional Harish Devarajan’s interview.)
The choice of a career also seems to happen through a process of elimination – a dislike or perceived lack of ability in a subject leads students to a stream that does not have it. Both students and parents should closely examine this dimension while making choices. Students can take up internships and try their hand at applications of these subjects, and then decide about completely giving them up. In fact, internships are recommended for all youngsters who want to get a flavour of different kinds of workplaces and job profiles. Do refer to the Cover Story in the March-April issue of ParentEdge, which has a section with more details (http://parentedge.in/internship-for-high-schoolers).
What happens at school?
Many reputed schools have a structured process to help students identify career choices in Grade Ten. Students are administered diagnostic aptitude tests (often in partnerships with third party organisations). The results of these tests are in the form of reports that list the areas of strength, dominant skill sets and probable career fits. These tests are then followed by individual counselling sessions. Schools also organise interactive sessions, when professionals from different walks of life talk to the students to give them a glimpse about the nature of their work. Parents are sometimes invited for these sessions. Participating in such sessions can aid both parents and children in exploring new and relatively unknown paths.
The reports of diagnostic tests provide a directional input, and their purpose is not to provide a highly individualised recommendation – which is quite impractical in a school set up where the number of students covered is large. Ms. Annapurna Murthy, Director of Manasa Consultants, a Bangalore-based career counselling centre cautions, “Results of diagnostic tests must be used in conjunction with knowledge of the context of the student, peculiarities of the socio-economic strata he is from, his home environment, interests, passions, etc. So it is important not to treat aptitude tests and personality tests as the final word when it comes to choice of a career. Parents and students should do their homework with diligence.