Being in this field for almost 20 years, I have realised that many a times, students are very clear what they don’t want, but confused about what actually they want. Sounds absurd, but it is true. The idea of a clearly defined career path and job for life is outdated. Some individuals lament that there are no perfect possibilities and that all the possibilities have some “tragic flaw.” Others say, “Nothing looks interesting,” or, “I’m interested in so many things, I don’t know how I can possibly focus on any direction.” In other words, it is a challenge to identify what students want.
Before we understand what students want, let’s understand what they do not want.
• Students do not want conventional jobs /careers; as they want to do something different. This leads to unnecessary confusion and loss of opportunities.
• The fear of committing to a single career as they fear monotony; they are not sure how long will their interest last. Since the need to ‘live’ life fully is more, we find students not willing to take up a specific career.
• They do not want to take up jobs / careers which their parents did; they do not like to be labelled as someone who is doing age-old jobs. They want something cool and trendy; which in most cases is confined to only fancy designations and the not the actual job profile.
So what do students exactly want? Most students want a life which gives them a sense of fulfillment and enjoyment. They need a job which gives them a lifestyle and not just takes care of monthly bills. Hence, we have observed they generally make a paradoxical choice; for instance:
• They want challenging work, but not too strenuous
• They need a great salary, but the work pressure and stakes should not be high.
• They want to do something different but lack the patience and potential to achieve it.
• They want to be independent leaders but lack the confidence of taking risks.
• They need jobs that are fun oriented in casual environment and at the leadership roles, which is not the case in reality.
• They need flexibility and freedom in their jobs, but also want regular income growth.
• They want jobs which will allow them to travel and explore more but do not want the work to be very demanding or requiring them to upgrade every time.
Given this background, it will be fair enough to say that we have a confused generation. We need students to start focusing more on their skills, potential and align it with their interest and responsibilities [financial & family] to make the career choices. They must also consider expectations from the job and know the ‘real’ challenges involved.
Finally, a student needs to be aware that it is not the profile that makes a person interesting, but the person who makes the profile interesting.