Perhaps in our given economic environment and prevalent social dynamics, where the per capita income is extremely low compared to neighborhood countries and the GDP growth rate is below 4 percent per annum; further exacerbated are the conditions by the ever increasing cost of living, expensive health care and low quality of education, most graduating students/youngsters hunt for a job -- career is not their first priority. At such stage of their lives carving a career is an illusive dream.
Everybody who is not on the list of the richest must find a job. And if a job you choose is a job you love, you don't have to work a single day. A job of promise, not drudgery, because that alone cannot help. No job seeker can aspire to be an astronaut, with a predominant trait of unwillingness to travel. A job, however must remain a job, and never a reason to forget to live. Clear distinction must be sought through discussions and enquiry what does the job enlist? A pay packet at the end of the month or something more!
In our class conscious society built largely on the edifice of corruption galore, with all its ugly manifestations, accompanied by wholesale nepotism that is rampant, only a handful have available to them the choice to decide whether the job they choose can ever prove to be a career decision, or be “just a job”.
Having had the good fortune to interview many young men and women at various stages of my own career, it was apparent that most were job seekers -- career was the next and never the first motivator. Being cognizant of the reality that economic needs are primary factors for the candidate(s), a heavy reliance was placed on giving adequate time and space, for the interviewee to prove his worth for the job at hand.
Again, holding a decisive personal view that an interviewee is also equally entitled to ask question to the interviewer(s); this opportunity was afforded to all, but very few took the chance to ask about career prospect, growth opportunities - vertical and horizontal, training, learning and development possibilities, etc -- Obviously it was getting the job that reigned on their minds. Instead the queries, if any, were, when will a decision be conveyed?; How long is the hiring process? All the questions are meant to satisfy that one single compelling need - Getting the job! A painful reality of our society, where opportunities are far and few.
Our system of education, coupled with the abdication of responsibility of the teachers/professors to guide our youngsters in choosing a career is also a major reason for the apathy by all. To add to the misery to the prevalent disorder in imparting education is the growing dis-disinterestedness of Parents, in the direction and growth of their offspring. They give no time and attention (atleast majority do not). The reason for this lack of interest could be several, some of them may be justifiable and good reasons; but nothing can be of conviction value to allow discharging this obligation towards own kith and kin. Even siblings due to preoccupation with mostly the ridiculous like the net, other social media platforms do not give their input for seeking opportunities. Some younger colleagues do not even know what subject their brother/sister is seeking for Bachelor’s or Master’s. By deduction through a maze of questions and answers I find relief, although rarely, that they atleast know which college, university their siblings go to.
Teachers are aware that what is learnt at school lasts till the tomb. A good teacher is one who leaves something for his/her students to work out for themselves, but it is not being good to the pupil, if they are left entirely on their own. Some goal posts must be identified for them to remain in pursuit of. This is also the role of a manager/supervisor at work. To plan a career, it is essential to have critically clean sense of clarity and self of confidence, in firstly identifying the goal and secondly to develop a strategy to follow upon it. The need for realism is an ingredient so critical towards making medium range to long term goals. The goal and effort must remain in conformity. Too high, may be unachievable; too low, may mean no challenge.
Jobs in relation to career are not easy to find. If the operating environment of the job at offer has within this premise future growth potential, it is than more than a job. Managers who encourage with openness a discussion on the future possibilities of growth with their reports, they end up creating not only good bench strength for assignment(s) but also in a way carve pathways for their own growth.
In any personal assessment of where one wishes to go, it is appropriate to also undertake a dispassionate evaluation of what level and quality of skill, talent and experience has been acquired to pitch for the next assignment. There should be clarity on which assignment is the cherished goal before other ultimate goals. And to facilitate that what you know, someone else must be taught to know that, failing which there cannot be any progression. Pass the baton and move forward with a new baton in hand… only through well directed efforts is ambition realized and there is then nothing to deny success.
Often I coax my younger colleagues on why they do not discuss what career plan they have in mind or are working upon? Unfortunately not many of them have clarity of thought, and those who do, they are hesitant to discuss it with the supervisors. The supervisor’s may have no knowledge of what career aspirations, his/her colleagues harbor. Those who are interested in their career must engage regularly on this subject with the managers.
In a lighter vein, Dennis Miller is reported to have said: “A good rule of thumb is if you have made it to 35 and your job still requires you to wear name tag, you have probably made serious vocational error. If the title is longer than your name then it is obvious the job is unimportant. Careers is not about failing others for your success. In a rat race, keep in focus the end, which is that the winner is the best Rat. It is foolish to make the job, a death of dignity”.
Not everybody can be John. F. Kennedy, when he said, “I like being the President. The pay is good and I can walk to work”. Supervisors can help their colleagues convert a job into a career.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist