The journey of a student in class 12th is like a rollercoaster, and as the year-end approaches, you swing between different thoughts altogether. Where your teacher wants you to focus on the board examinations, your parents to ace that competitive exam, you are sitting there wondering, What do I want? What is the next plan of action?
It is a huge transition of life, and no matter what, we always fear missing out.
A few years back, when I graduated my high school, I did what everyone was doing and never pondered over what I wanted. Today, I look back and see how mismatched my career was for my personality, and how that one step, if taken otherwise, would have turned things out so differently. Nevertheless, I did manage to find my true calling ultimately, and stumbled upon something I would love to pursue- Psychology.
I so wish I had someone in my life back then, to guide the 17-year-old me towards the right path. This realization prompted me to write this article so other 17-year-olds like you can benefit from my life experiences and don’t suffer the same pitfalls that I did.
So here are 6 pieces of career advice I would like to give to all class 12th students.
1. Not everything you’re good at can be your career
A lot of students think that if they excel in one particular subject, or one particular thing, that would lead to a successful career as well.
In my case, I was not that academically-oriented, yet I used to top every accountancy paper in high school. I thought that since I am really good at it, I should go ahead and pursue CA. I didn’t check the job role or whether it even matches my working style. I didn’t think 360 degrees, and ended up wasting quite some time before realizing this career will never suit me.
The same perspective can be looked at through an example of a student who scores very well in English, but has no interest in a career which involves writing or communication, would it be a good choice for him to enrol in an English Hons. course?
It’s not always what you are good at, but what can keep you sustain your zeal to kick start each day with excitement. Don’t force yourself into a bad career move just because you are good at it.
2. Don’t let individual experiences affect you a lot
We often tend to base our decisions on other people’s ideas, thoughts, experiences, and recommendations.
If I had to give advice to the 17-year-old me, I would tell myself to never choose a course only because it’s popular and will supposedly fetch me a lot of money. I would also tell myself to never discard a career option that interests me, only because someone else didn’t get a job after doing that course.
Choosing a career should be based on your own interests, and your vision of your professional life. People sometimes unintentionally steer us away from our ideas and beliefs with their own opinions about a career. Listen to them carefully but don’t let anyone else’s opinion be the basis for your decision.
Read, research and talk to people, but the final call, make it yourself.
3. Dropping a year is not a sin, and you can still be successful
Back in my time, dropping was considered an option only for students preparing for engineering or medicine. Any other student who would go down that lane was assumed to be less academically-focussed.
With some improvement in the perception these days, there is still a chunk of people stuck with this idea. This mentality has taken a toll on students, who rush into options blindly because of the fear of wasting time.
Yet it’s completely alright to not be a 100% clear about what you want at this stage. If you think that you need one year to make things right and try careers on for size, do that. In the long run, this one year wouldn’t even be visible in the bigger picture.
Before deciding to drop a year, however, just evaluate your options carefully, and ensure that whatever decision you take, helps you grow in the long term and learn things you wouldn’t otherwise.
4. Remove “Should” from “Want”
Students usually look at what they “should” be doing, rather than what they “want” to do.
When I saw people around me getting into professional courses, I wondered how they would react if I tell them I am enthralled about a career in Dance. Fearing their reaction, I didn’t even try to make my point, and did what I “should” be doing after Commerce- CA. Somehow, both the careers didn’t end up working out for me, but I didn’t even try to research, talk, or do something about what I wanted to do.
Always be fearless and confident about what you want, instead of worrying about others’ opinions about the right thing to do.
“A lot of people think in terms of ‘should’ — I ‘should’ be a banker, I ‘should go to law school, I ‘should’ pursue what I studied in school.’’ – Melanie Whelan (CEO of SoulCycle)
5. Don’t persist with something you no longer love
We often find ourselves in a situation where our choices and perception change and we no longer want to do what we wanted earlier.
Let’s take an example, Divya wanted to be a Doctor since class 8th. She invested a lot of time and efforts in making her dream come true, both mentally and emotionally. During the mid of class 11th, she realized she cannot handle the stress of coaching and school together. Yet, she tried to stay calm and continue doing it, because giving it up meant that all the time she invested was for nothing.
We believe that if we have invested a lot of time in the preparation of a career, then we can’t leave it. If I were to give an advice, it would be to always put in the hard work for what you started, but don’t stop yourself from growing.
Of course, investment matters, but if you have analysed that you are in a situation you can’t continue with, then take a break and introspect. Talk to people, and see what is causing all this, and if required change your career path.
6. Say ‘YES’ more often
We are often so focused towards one path that we ignore things that come along.
Opportunities are like good food on the table, you just have to grab them before someone else does. That one internship in the summer, or that one chance in the drama club, say ‘YES’ to everything that excites you, even if it does not relate to your academics.
There is so much to experiment and try, that you would explore something new about yourself, every day. And while you explore, not only will you discover a new ‘you’ but will also get you acquainted with hundreds of new avenues and careers. In fact, in terms of career, test careers in summer breaks or holidays, and save the time of realizing that you didn’t like it later.
Finding the perfect career is one of the most fulfilling things, and if you are lucky you find it on the first try. In my case, it took almost 3 tries to even reach close to finding my passion.
Your career and your overall personality are going to play a huge part in defining you, and any perfection wouldn’t come without trying it a thousand times.
This was more or less how I could put my experiences forth, and hope you find them useful in finding the motivation in your own career. Just remember, your career is going to be there for the rest of your life, so choose your priorities well and define yourself the way you want.
Have any of your own experiences to share? Write them below in the comments!