According to LinkedIn’s career pathway survey, when employees lose sense of their career path and feels like they are on a treadmill going nowhere, it is called CAREER SLEEPWALKING. A large number of them ‘fell’ into their job rather than actively choosing it. They have absolutely no idea where they will be after 5 or 10 years of their job. This happens when one chooses a wrong career path. It leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction in the current job. One is not able to perform at his optimum level because he does not like the work profile or is not able to relate with the activities. The root cause of the problem lies in selection of career in a whimsical manner or non- scientific manner.

Why is choosing a right career important?

Choosing a career is an important decision of life. There is no doubt about it. But do we ever think that it also needs an expert advice or guidance? Generally, anybody chooses a career by any of the following methods:

  • Following family profession e.g. Doctor, Lawyer
  • Fulfilling Parents’ unfulfilled aspirations
  • Following the footsteps of a successful relative
  • Parental Pressure
  • Peer Pressure
  • Societal pressure
  • Idolizing someone
  • Choosing whatever comes easy and handy

There may be more factors but I have listed few prominent ones.

What happens when the career is chosen by any of the above methods? It leads to wrong choices, non-fulfilling job and ultimately a feeling of dissatisfaction in life. I have quoted some data* to substantiate my point:

Nearly 34000 students dropped out from Higher Education Institutions in India between 2019 and 2023.    Following is the Institution wise break up:

  • Out of this 17000 drop outs are from Central Universities,
  • followed by Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) ( 8,139),
  • National Institutes of Technology (NITs) (5,623),
  • Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) (1,046),
  • Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) (858),
  • Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) (803),
  • Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) (112).

*(This data is sourced from Education ministry’s report in parliament)

Such a large number of students are leaving their seats in top institutes of India. That too, after working hard for years to get this seat. This action i.e. the withdrawal from the most coveted institute, involves many implications:

  • This is traumatic for the student and his family.
  • There is a financial loss to the family as they have spent money on account of admission fees and preparation of entrance exam.
  • This is deceitful to the deserving candidate who could have got admission if this student had not eaten up his seat.
  • This is also wastage of national resources as huge amount is spent by Government on these institutions.
  • This action can have huge implication on student’s career.

All this can be avoided if career is chosen in a scientific manner. One should look for expert guidance of a career counselor while making career decision. Career counseling is an under-rated concept in India. In Western countries, it is an integral part of the education system. Now, Government of India is laying emphasis on career counseling as it has brought out its importance in New Education Policy and many state governments, NGOs and CSR projects are also trying to provide access to such services to students from under-privileged background and/ or those studying in Government schools.

Asking few questions:

Have we ever tried to analyze:

  1. If we are really competent to follow the chosen profession?
  2. Are we really passionate about doing these things?
  3. Do we have the desired skillset to be successful in a particular career?

 This is where career counseling comes into picture!!!

What is Career counseling

It is an expert advice that helps the students to make an INFORMED DECISION about their career. This includes not only the final career choice but it actually starts with stream selection, then course selection, information about entrance exams, college selection, and admission counseling and so on.

These days so many career options are available. Many new courses are being introduced every now and then. Students do not know about them because neither the family nor the school has the expertise to guide them about the new and upcoming career options or all the available options. This is what I call an ‘Informed Decision’. This means that a student should be aware of all the options available to him on the basis of his competencies and interests and then he chooses what he wants to do in life.

Also, these days, career paths are not unilinear. People change their work areas after few years due to many factors. If they know their strengths and weaknesses, their opportunities and threats, then it makes the task of decision making a bit easier. One should keep on acquiring as many skills as he can even though the skills may not be directly related to your chosen career but at a later stage, they can help you switch your career. So, one needs to identify those areas also. It also helps in building a good profile. But here it is important to remember that when people change their careers after few years of working; in most of the cases, they have either developed some new competencies, have acquired new interest areas or have developed higher order of skillsets which makes it imperative to look for other opportunities for a career growth. This phenomenon has been termed as ‘Career Pivoting’ in LinkedIn’s study.

Process of Career counseling:

  • Career counseling is a scientific process. There are well established theories in psychology which help to identify a student’s aptitude, personality and interest.
  • Aptitude is the natural ability of a person and indicates the competence of a person with regard to choice of subjects, course and career.
  • Personality indicates the qualities and traits of a person. Personality assessment is equally important because not all types of personalities are suitable for each profession or career.
  • Interest areas indicate in what type of work environment a person is more likely to be successful.
  • When a student takes a psychometric assessment, the above-mentioned tests give a clear indication about the suitable career choice. But this assessment report is an indicator only because it also has some limitations. Here the role of a counselor becomes important. After going through the assessment report, Counselor engages in a one-to-one conversation with the student and parents and through discussion and probing, tries to find out the best career choice for the student.

The end objective of career counseling is to help the student choose right career where he seeks maximum satisfaction and be successful in life. There are some ethical considerations involved in it. There are some practical difficulties also that many times a counselor has to face. So, it is a challenging as well as an interesting job.


Vandana Garg

5+ years of Experience in Career Guidance.

Certified Career Coach By NCDA.

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