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Career planning is an important step for every student, especially those who are in their late teens. You need to invest time in gauging your strengths and abilities, zero in on an avenue that piques your interest, and you have the skills for and can grow in. When asked the quintessential question of “where do you see yourself in 5/10 years”, most students stutter or stumble, without having any clear direction. Take time to think about who you are, what you like, and who you want to be. You can do this by exploring your interests, things you are good at, and things you want to learn. Doing this will give you a clear idea of what you want and then you can go on to planning how to build a career in it.
The career planning process
Career planning entails a series of steps that enable students to understand their career goals and give them a definitive path to convert these goals to reality. Often, these steps will require some analysis and revaluation from time to time. Here is what you need to do –
1. Self assessment
The most important and also the most difficult step in career planning is self-assessment. It helps you understand who you are and what you can do. There are various online assessment tools available that test your aptitude and personality however, you can also do this on your own. You need to consider your personality, qualities, interests, talents, aptitude, etc. You must honestly accept their strengths and flaws, and build choose careers that complement them. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started –
- What do I enjoy doing?
- What do I excel in?
- My strenghts and weaknesses
- What I don’t like doing?
- What things/values are important to me?
- Do I prefer working on my own or in a team?
- What things motivate me?
- How can I add value to the world?
- What is my desired lifestyle?
- What are my monetary goals?
2. Research on potential careers
Once you understand your interests and abilities, you need to research potential careers that match them. Read about different careers and make a list of what suits you and intrigues you. Then, you need to start shortlisting them on the basis of the skills you have, your desired lifestyle, and what you like and are good at.
Take time to understand the industry, the career options, growth potential, and what you can do differently to add value. Conduct thorough research on jobs, salary prospects, advantages, and disadvantages, skills you will need to develop, and also the future relevance of the industry.
3. Assess your options
It is always advisable to not put all your eggs in one basket. Exploring all potential avenues is a good move in case the chosen career becomes obsolete, or if you simply change your mind. Once you have all the relevant information about your shortlisted careers you need to assess how well suited you are for them. Consider how will sustain yourself long-term and how you plan on dealing with the not-so-interesting parts of your chosen career. This will help further shortlist your list and give you a clearer idea.
4. Understand the skills and qualifications you need
Once you know what you want, you need to figure out how to get it. Research about the skills, qualifications, and experience you need to build a successful career. These include shortlisting courses you may need to take, researching about the right colleges for them, and finally gaining some hands-on experience. A good tip is to talk to people who have experience in your desired field and understand what you need to do and how you can have an edge.
5. Set concrete goals
Now that you have a better understanding of what you need to do and how to do it, you will need to plan everything out and set goals. These can include everything from preparing to get into your dream college to working on your skills and portfolio, getting volunteer experience, or simply building your vocabulary. Whatever these small milestones maybe remember that you set concrete goals and iterate steps on how you plan to achieve them.
Some more tips
It is very easy for people to say “you must plan for the future”, but often, knowing what to do, and how to do it is very hard. Here are a few tips to get you started –
- Identifying what you are good at
- Take note of past accomplishments in those fields.
- Know what your talent, skills and values are and how they match with existing careers
- Match your goals to your financial needs
- Match your goals to your educational needs
- Research on opportunities based around these areas of interest and hobbies.
- Select courses- academic and otherwise, that will help you stay on this path.
Career planning examples
Go through the below career planning examples to get a rough idea of what a successful plan looks like.
If dancing is your forte, here is how you can plan your career in it –
- Identify that you have a penchant and passion for dancing, and would like to make a career out of it.
- Take part in college fests to test the waters.
- Enrol in any dance academy, and study various forms and types of dance.
- Decide whether you want to set up your own dance studio, dance in theatres/movies, or even study further.
If you think that you have an interest in cooking and would like to pursue it as a career in the future, these are the steps and goals that must be set.
- Identify if you are a good cook, and have a knack for picking up different recipes, trying out new cuisines, and making changes to existing classic dishes to give them delicious twist
- Apply for a culinary course so you can either become a chef in some restaurant, open your own food joint, or write a cooking book. These are a few diverse options right here.
- Get an entry level job in any restaurant within 6 months.
- Practice making a new recipe, and reading cooking books to enhance and improve your skills.
Career planning is an important step and must be done to avoid any disappointments or wastage of time. However, in its absence, students /individuals will struggle to match their career/job with their strengths and skills. The selection of a career is often controlled by some external factors or circumstances. This often leads to burnouts, and sudden, inexplicable career changes. Therefore, draw a detailed and comprehensive career plan, and transition from studying about your interest to doing it on a daily basis. If you love what you do, and are good at it, you will love working! No day will seem mundane.
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Q1. What is the right age to start career planning?
There is no correct age to start the process of career planning. However, it is important to make the right initial choice after class 10, as you need to choose a stream that interests you. Research on the values and opportunities that pursuing any stream will provide, and make an informed decision. For example, if you are bad at math, it is best to avoid the science stream. From then on up to class 12, you can decide on potential career paths to make the right subject choices for college.
Q2. What are the benefits of career planning?
Career planning is an advantageous process that is time-consuming, but effective. The benefits of career planning are numerous – self evaluation, providing necessary expertise and experience, improving intellectual focus as well as increasing concentration and productivity.
Q3. How to define career planning?
Career planning is the process of identifying your skills, strengths, and interests, and matching them to existing jobs and career opportunities. You must set goals, and chalk out plans to convert those goals to reality.