The Road Ahead for the ‘I’ll Do it My Way ‘ Generation in India

If you belong to the current I’ll do it my way’, normal-is-boring’ generation, I consider you lucky!

When I completed my schooling, the only options ahead were engineering or medicine. More by default, family and peer pressures, you kind of gravitated towards these fields. The limited offerings and the poor career options got you following the beaten path like the proverbial horse with blinds.

Today, with globalization and a large English speaking population, India is garnering enviable attention from leading edge industries opening up new and diverse career options. Career avenues which put you in touch with the end customer, bring immediate results and promise growth.

Careers that transcend time zones, be it in the call centre or the business outsourcing units; careers that help one shape the world – through design and implementing technologies like Bluetooth and global positioning systems or careers that are plain fun and vibrant – radio jockeying and fashion designing. The sky is the limit! Movie making, retail, real estate, biotechnology, event management, jewelry designing, constructionâÂ?¦.the list goes onâÂ?¦..or even the ambitious entrepreneurial route.

According to a MTV survey, 54 per cent of youngsters are earning money while studying. This has been triggered by the mushrooming of call centers and business process outsourcing units in the last three years. With outsourced jobs popping up in practically every major city, a survey by India Consumer Markets data shows that there are more than 34.6 lakh people who have been hired in the last couple of years. (http://in.rediff.com/money/2004/jun/12spec.htm)

The cherry on the cake is that careers today come searching for you and not the other way around! Aren’t the mind boggling numbers of print, TV and web advertising proof? And how could one explain the almost ubiquitous walk-ins and job fairs?

I know of a professional who quit his corporate career to conduct team building and outbound promotions – which gave him more self belief and satisfaction that his regular nine to five job.

There are some careers which allow the flexibility to earn while you study keeping in mind the time conscious’ individual.

But along these positive signs come the lowlights. Unpredictability and flux in employment and business trends. Remember the dot com bust? The backlash on outsourcing jobs moving to India?

With upheavals in the world of business and its far reaching consequences, it’s tougher than ever before to put a finger on the pulse of change.

I chanced upon an interesting article on the Net which gave a few examples of jobs which were once “Hot Jobs” with high demand but are now declining or totally extinctâÂ?¦secretarial dictation that was replaced by individuals doing their own word processing, starting in the late 1980’s as the cost of personal computers came down. The Fax Machine Operator – once the cost of FAX machines came down, most people handled their own faxes rather than having an assistant do it. Finally, most but not all faxes gave way to e-mail! Telephone Operators – once a premier job, demand was reduced significantly by touch tone systems and then later by voice recognition technology.

So what does a student like you do? What can you expect? What are the prospects? Where do you go from here? Can you change your career mid way? How do jobs link to the education paths you have chosen?

Not easy to decide. Probably the first step is to look inwards and ask yourself some fundamental questions – who are you, where are you and where do you want to go? It does not matter which domain or field of education you have chosen – the career paths can be determined from these answers.

Answering these questions may not clear the field completely but developing a decision making strategy is a good way to start your career development. The objectives are to understand your lifestyle and behavioral patterns and make an informed choice.

Here are some tips drawn from my experience that can help you make that all important decision.

âÂ?¢ Understand the trends – Look around you – which are the factors that are constant and which have changed? There are newer cost saving, faster and safer methods of doing work. Is there something you can learn from? Is there something that you can make a living from? Catching a trend while it’s breaking can give you an advantage.

âÂ?¢ Focus on your strengths – It makes immense sense to go in for a career that you enjoy most and believe in. Heard that saying – love your job and you will not have to work a single day in your life ? Good at music, speaking or dancing? There are careers that complement these talents – music composition, choreography, marketing, movie production among others.

âÂ?¢ Be prepared for change – Unlike careers in the past, almost all jobs, no matter how secure, will experience ups and downs due to the economy and unexpected changes. Thus there is no guarantee. Be ready for the rough rides. Be the best to survive though those tough times.

âÂ?¢ Network and learn – with the advent of the internet and access to loads of information and news, it is imperative that you are abreast with the latest. There are no excuses. So, go out there and pick up as much as you can on your subjects of interest as well as on unrelated topics. Enroll as a student member of associations, clubs and meets. You never know where your break can come from. Maybe you will discover a new way of linking Information Technology with say, tennis! Who knowsâÂ?¦!

âÂ?¢ Have a positive disposition – Half the battle is won when you are positive. Seek your goals and make a mark. Be visible, humble and keep yourself healthy. Take those risks early in your career – you can always bounce back.

âÂ?¢ Develop interests outside of your education – It could be theatre, photography, web designingâÂ?¦. Did you know that there is crying demand in the corporate and the non-governmental world for skilled professionals who can manage programs and make a difference? Well, it wasn’t even a career option some years agoâÂ?¦.

Finally, follow your dreams�..the world is yours for the taking!

PS: As for me, I almost became a dentist! My passion for advertising and communications, then took me through a couple of exciting years of work with leading global advertising agencies (one of them in Bangladesh!) before finding my calling with internal and corporate communications. I did my graduation in Botany!

The views expressed by the author are his own and do not reflect in any way the views of the organization he works for.

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