Choosing the right career and being successful in it requires research, continuing education
HAVE you ever thought about how you chose your career? Frankly, I chose my initial career through the process of elimination; “I didn’t want this or I didn’t want that.” There certainly wasn’t much analytical thinking behind my decision. And when I did make the final decision, I made it based wholly on an absolutely false premise. I believed that if a favourite uncle liked my potential occupation of teaching and had risen up the career ladder to school superintendent, then my selection must be the right occupation for me. How absurd. How laughable that decision was, now that I look back on it, so many years ago.
Today, career choices are no longer based on socio-economic status, gender, traditional family occupations or on the careers of a favourite uncle. In fact, many of today’s careers and certainly those coming in the future weren’t even invented when your parents made their career choices.
This fast-changing career field leaves people vulnerable, but also increases the importance of taking personal responsibility for one’s career. It also points sharply to the importance of continuous learning. In other words, education remains one of the most important ingredients to personal and professional success, today, tomorrow and forever.
On the other hand, corporations and organizations are also recognizing the importance of ongoing learning for their employees. Time and time again, organizational leaders are referring to their future growth as being dependent on employee learning and development. As a result, they are continually creating career ladders and focusing more on personal and professional development strategies that will take employees beyond their current jobs.
So, what’s the message for readers? The message is that no matter whether you are a new graduate and/or if you have been in the workforce for several years, your learning will never end. But the issue is not that you will always be a perpetual student, it’s how to retain control of your career and your learning.
Taking advantage of employer-sponsored learning is one thing, but you need to be in charge of your career. You need to make sure the courses and programs you become engaged in are enhancing your career rather than becoming a proverbial noose around your neck.
No one today can afford to be led down the wrong career path, as I was. You can’t make your career decisions based on admiration for a favourite uncle, a sense of appreciation from a supportive and encouraging boss or a strong sense of loyalty toward an employer. Nor in my view, should you become so specialized that you’re thrown out of work when your industry sector hits a major slump.