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Early Career Choices

results-parentsSituation 1: “My daughter [who is 8th std] is interested in research”, “my son [in 9th std] is passionate about machines”, “I know my child [studying in 11th std] very well and she is going to join IIT only”.

These and many phrases such as these we get to hear on a regular basis. And I am sure many parents would also connect with these. It is always good to know and identify what your child is good at, at an early age. But can we really just rely on these early passions?

Let’s understand the difference between interest and passion. What most students [barring a few] feel towards a particular field is curiosity, fascination and glamour based impression. As a parent / guardian, one has to understand passion is an intense feeling one has towards anything, field or activity, regardless of the efforts and challenges. Check out whether is it just a fantasy stage or tentative stage? Considering the teenage, it is quite possible they are going through these two stages of interest. So, take a pause before you [as a parent / guardian / senior] encourage or emphasise only on these choices.

Find out what do they know about these careers and what is their source of information. Is it an influence or an impression based choice or an informed decision? Do they know what it takes to be in the chosen fields? Are they aware of the path and efforts to be undertaken? If you get a positive response for all the above questions, then you may take further appropriate actions and guide them.

If you realise that this is just a passing phase, then try to take professional advice to help your children make a decision. Do not be in a hurry to thrust a career choice on them. Give them some time to know more about careers, explore with them, understand what it takes to be in that career and then help them make a decision.

Situation 2: “I am interested in becoming a Data Scientist”. “Investment banking or portfolio management – my only career choices”. “I am going to be a food stylist”. “Criminal law fascinates me”.

Hearing this from high school students, makes us think – is this just an attraction towards something that sounds ‘cool’, ‘trendy’ ‘intellectual’ or real passion for the field. Do they really know about the field or it just the glamour or influence from a series they have been watching? Though we cannot generalise, but we see more and more teenagers speak about careers which require higher educational degrees coupled with work experience in a specific field.

So how do we deal with situation like this? Firstly, let’s understand unlike sports or talents at performing arts, the academic pursuits require a different level of preparation, training and being a part of the education system. The path is structured; one needs to undergo the routine training and a trail of entrance exams, college admission procedures and exams too. But the non-academic pursuits require training which is not confined to the education system. It can be taken externally too. This is the difference and hence all those who have an inclination [at a very early age] towards academic routes, need to remember that they have to follow the routine processes until they reach their goals.

Understand the driving forces for these early passions, know the routes [educational / non-educational], be prepared to put in efforts and seek the right information about the career and your child from professionals to ensure that the decision is taken and the right path is followed.