“Glamour, grit and goals”- 10 June 2018

‘There is certain glamour about the white coat which I have loved all my life! My maternal Uncles and Aunts are medical doctors and I have them as my role models’ said Ankita proudly. This pride and passion is important for the student who is in the stage of planning and choosing his/her career for life. ‘I am the son of a baker and my dream is to construct a five star hotel some day when I grow up. Therefore hospitality is the choice for me’, says Samrat with confidence and conviction. ‘My father is a businessman and I also want to do business but not join his business which is a shop and I don’t like it. I will do my own thing and my own way’ stated Vikrant a bit rebelliously. The charm, the attraction and the glamour associated with any profession is important for the student to feel it deeply within. If the profession does not exude that fascination and prestige, it is pointless to pursue it.

‘I hate engineering for all and sundry are running after it’ opined Ruhi. She was resisting the pressure that her parents were imposing on her. They were insistent that she should take engineering at the undergrad level and then compete for the Public Service Commission examinations, for that would be the ultimate pride that her parents would experience. But Ruhi had other plans. She hated the governmental jobs for they had no charm for her- she dreamt of being a writer and for that she wanted to pursue humanities and languages. She was a multi-linguist and could speak five languages including two foreign languages beside English, Hindi and her mother tongue. Languages were the only thing that appealed to her although she was talented enough to do anything from science to commerce!

These are rare examples of students who have dreams, role models, plans and choices already thought of. There is a vast majority of students who are clueless about what they want, have no dreams or stars in their eyes and have not thought about their futures. We need to look for that spark, that attraction, that razzle-dazzle that a career has for a young teen. Many of them are star-struck, or bewitched by cricketers or other celebrities but have not planned or discussed the road-map to that goal. They are too late in making choices as they have not expressed their dreams to anyone and nor honed their talents so far. They have remained at the level of fantasy, at the level of imagination in their heads and have romanced it in isolation in their minds and not tested it in reality. So it remains just that- a fantastic fantasy of not much value in reality!

Making a career is never a cake-walk as some teens think. It is an immature mind that thinks like this, a teen that has been over-protected, pampered with all luxuries of life, is addicted to the mobile and video-games and has subsequently developed an escapist mindset. They are distracted with all sorts of pastimes with friends and technology. Socialising in excess, big hollow talk of big things, spending huge amounts of money in cafes and pubs and experimenting with romantic alliances occupies there mind to the point of obsession. They may have only one dream of making big money but how to do that is not on their radar. Making a good and happy career requires grit and determination, hours of dedicated practice, a passion and an obsession about it to do whatever it requires to achieve the goal.

The goals have to be thought through step by step and laid out in writing like a well developed plan. The short term goals as well as the long term goals have to be kept in mind for all times. It is interesting to see people think in a hap-hazard manner. ‘I will do chartered accountancy and then do an MBA’, was a confusing goal for me. Many parents insist and opine that ‘let her take science till the 12 Std and then decide what she wants to do’. Or alternatively, ‘let him opt for general science (Biology and Maths) till 12 Std and then decide the future course’. If the future goal is to drop science, where is the need to pursue it after the 10 Std? It only adds to the burden on the young shoulders and can become a drag-down. We do not need endless choices in life- we just need three in our kitty to choose from. We should not plan from a standpoint of an emotion of anxiety and insecurity but from a ground of confidence and belief in self and abilities.

So what thought process should a student or a parent follow- to simplify it let us put it in three categories. The first is to assess and know the aptitude, the abilities that go with a profession. For example a student who is poor in maths should not dream of being an astronaut or an automobile engineer. So the required proficiency in specific subjects is vital. There should be any ‘bravado’ about it! The second is the factor of interest, allure and glamour the career has for the teen. This fascination is important for it builds up motivation that leads to dedication and grit. The third is the personality factors that go with a profession. Important concerns are whether you are extroverted, introverted, people oriented, machine oriented, theoretical or practical, outdoor or indoor type, like excitement or calmness etc.

The awareness of these factors is vital for getting into an intensive and extensive discussion about the best career choices for the student. It is advisable not to make a choice before you are clear about your own self. It is amusing to see a vast majority choose a degree programme before deciding a career for themselves. It is like choosing a road without knowing the destination! In fact the truth is that one should first choose a long term career and then choose the best road map to achieve that!

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