By Essie Bester
Choosing a career path must be one of the most difficult decisions that one has to make ((and often you are still a child). Many people do change careers later in their lives, but that first choice always has an impact.
For that reason it is important that your expectations around your personality, capabilities, intelligence and interest must be realistic and that you can identify with the career you choose. This determines the direction in which you will develop your skills, the type of organisations and people that you are going to be involved with during your lifetime, as well as how much money you are going to earn.
Mistakes to be avoided
When it comes to career choices, some mistakes are made more often than others. Jane Downes, a well-known career coach and writer of The Career Book, has the following to say:
- Career planning is not always taken seriously. Young people don’t always think about it until the last moment and then make heads-over-heels decisions.
- Skills, interests, values and personality are not always taken into consideration. Decision-makers do not always take time to find out what their values are, what drives them, whether they are introvert or extrovert by nature, and how they will be able to apply their personality in the workplace.
- Young people do not always realise that career planning is a project by itself and therefore do not do sufficient research.
- Young people listen to their parents, whose intentions are good but do not always realise that the world of work has changed fundamentally. They do not always know that two new roles are created in the work world every week and they do not always understand new areas such as digital marketing and data analysis.
- Young people do not take the vocational guidance officer seriously.
- Young people do not use the resources at their disposal to find out more. Most universities, for example, offer extensive and professional career guidance, psychometric testing and career-path guidance services.
- Finally Downes ask young people to realise that one can never go wrong by acquiring a mental pattern of curiosity and asking questions.
Steps to follow when determining your choice of career
- Discuss your options with a person you respect and develop self-knowledge in this way.
- Write down your options and describe them briefly. Do you have a feeling for your choices? With the Solidarity Career Compass you can get confirmation. Do a free online interest determiner to find out what would best suit you. Visit www .jeug.co.za.
- Enquire at the information offices of colleges and universities what the different careers comprise and what different job opportunities are possible in every career.
- Ask about remuneration. Make sure which school subjects and further training are necessary. Talk to people who are already doing your dream work. Ask yourself the following:
Is there a demand for people qualified in the career I’m interested in?
Will it be easy to find a job?
Will I be able to take care of my family should I choose this career?
What could possibly happen if the economy shrinks to such an extent that people can no longer afford my services or product?
Is there a wide variety of job opportunities in this field?
- Consider every option and compare the possibilities with each other.
- Choose the direction that suits you best while keeping in mind that you are now laying the foundation for an investment the fruits of which you will reap throughout your life.
- Develop a strong guideline for realising your dream by creating a plan of action.
You have decided on the career you want to follow. Ask yourself the following:
What information or help do I need to carry through my plan of action?
What problems do I have to solve and how am I going to do it?
What steps are necessary to carry out the plan successfully?
How do I start and end every planned step?
This screening of ideas is very important. It is, after all, not easy to put your life’s dream in writing. Write down the possibilities again and again until you get to the core.
The choice of profession is not always the problem
Chalene Pretorius, who was a director at the Phoenix Youth Development Organisation for ten years, says it is not always necessarily the choice of vocation that is the problem. In many cases it is the way in which parents and teachers react to a child’s choices. Children need more support when they choose a profession that is not the one the parent would have chosen.
Pretorius warns parents and teachers not to become obsessed with the traditional university training when it comes to career choices and studies. “Look at what is going on in the world of work right now. Yes, there are professions that do require university degrees, but there are, for example, big opportunities for entrepreneurs in South Africa. The options are legion.”