Budget commentary
20th March 2017
Choosing a career path
20th March 2017

Choosing the right career

Are you about to complete school or have just finished and not sure which career path to follow? Or is there a career that you would like to pursue but are not sure if you are making the correct choice? Tanya Jackman, Career Indaba event director, answers some of these and other related questions.

Why is it important to choose a career?

By definition a career means to find an occupation that is undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life, with opportunities for progress. Even in this modern day, where the so-called Millennial generation is more comfortable about moving jobs every two or three years, it is still possible to have a career that spans across many employment positions. A career ultimately is more than just a job; it means personal as well as professional growth and it insinuates a sense of fulfilment in what you do.

 What specific steps should one take when choosing a career?

I have always recommended this seven-step approach and often share it with students who email me for advice.

  1. Assess yourself

Each individual has different goals, talents, interests, and values. In other words, there are certain careers each individual should not pursue and others where they’d excel and be satisfied.

  1. Make a list of potential occupations

After conducting some self-assessment, it should become apparent which types of careers you should pursue.

  1. Explore the options

Learn about each potential career after narrowing your list. Be sure to learn about educational or training requirements, job duties, employment outlook, annual earnings, and promotion opportunities.

  1. Narrow down your list

Eliminate careers that no longer interest you after thoroughly reviewing each one.

  1. Set goals

After your list has been narrowed, establish attainable goals. You should be informed enough to establish short- and long-term goals.

  1. Create a career action plan

Once you’ve established your career goals, begin developing a career action plan consisting of goals and the specific steps needed to reach them.

  1. Obtain training

Obtaining the required career training will probably consume the majority of your time and efforts as you pursue a career.

 When is it the appropriate time? At what grade should one decide which career to follow?

This is a difficult question to answer. The process in which a career path is decided is a personal journey which is unique to every individual. It is also important to note that it is not just about choosing a career but choosing the right career. We’re likely to spend 30% of our entire life working, so we want to feel motivated, passionate and rewarded while we do it.

Rather than defining a specific time to make a decision, learners should be encouraged to start asking the right questions from an early age. Parents are a pivotal part of this process and they should be actively engaging in these conversations about their child’s future. Having seen their child develop and grow, it can be easier to help them explore where their strengths lie and which careers they might be suitable for.

In your view, which careers will still be available in the near future and which ones are becoming obsolete?

As Nikki Bush, a creative parenting adviser, correctly says: “Approximately 60% of the jobs our children will do have not yet been invented and many of the jobs and skills in the world of work today are on their way to becoming obsolete or will morph and change into something entirely different in the not-too-distant future.”

As scary as this may sound, it is actually incredibly exciting. The sheer variety of careers available today is quite astounding, from professional e-gamers to archaeologists and everything in between. I strongly believe there are core subjects which will prepare any learner for a career in the future: STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Maths).

What is the role of parents in helping their children choose their careers?

Parents hold a multifaceted role when helping their child choose the right career. Depending on their current situation, they can offer financial support should their child wish to work overseas, require additional training or if they need assistance in starting up their own business. However, more importantly, I believe a parent provides the necessary emotional support, creating a stable and safe environment for their child to explore different career options.

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