Sunday, April 1, 2012

How to choose a career path-A students Guide

College times are most confusing times for every student but these are also the most important time for a student to decide what he/she want to be in life. It is an ideal place where a student can experiment, make mistakes and correct them. It also help you in identifying which option is best suitable and you would most enjoy doing it. While choosing your career options according to your interests and academic qualification, the most important is to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Do SWOT analyses to discover them. I will leave you all to Google what SWOT analysis means. Today there are various opportunities available, however picking the right one might take you places. So before making any decision, it’s important for you be aware of the various options available and see if they cater to your requirements. There is nothing wrong if you pick monetary benefits a reason for choosing an opportunity as long as you earning money make you happy. But if you put-up your focus, hard work dedication on the field of your choice money keep coming as a byproduct. Choosing a career. While choosing you career option, keeping in mind your interests, strengths and weaknesses, you should also see the scope of learning and demand of that field. It’s a very simple equation of supply-demand. More the demand, more chances of you landing in a job quickly. There are many careers options engineering students can choose from comprise high salaried options like management, software-IT, Engineering, Bio-technology, bio-informatics, designing, automotive, research and development and other off-beat opportunities ,government services, journalism, advertising, Graphic designing,Pharmcy,economics,music,theatre,movies,sports,law,fashion, human resources to list a few. When exploring a career option one must do a study about the nature of work, the work responsibilities that will be assigned to you, your role as an individual and your role as a team player and you also need to do a study on various skilled based training involved to enhance your career path. When you are looking for career options, do think about your personality traits, and extracurricular activities along with the interests, skills, hobbies if you are interested in solving difficult math sums or you like to design a car or you love fashion then give preference to the above types of fields while selecting your career option. If you love theater, writing, drawing or sports then select your career option from art or sports field accordingly. First thing you need to do is make a list of the career options which best align themselves with your interests and strengths. If counted, there are more than thousand different professions. However, you need not check all of them. If you want to do your career in research and development, then you just need to explore career options related to that field only. Meet the people from field that you are considering as a career. Also, attend seminars, forums and trade shows related to concern field. Try to organize mock interview or informational discussions with the people working in the same area. You need to know as many things as possible. Don’t waste much time in thinking. Prepare your resume. You can refer free resume templates online to prepare your eye-catching resume. You need to take decision as early as possible. Many people change their career options during their working lives. So college times are the best times to take decisions. Networking always helps. Try to meet people of your area of interest and find out the latest techniques, tools which are being used. You should always ask them if there are any free to use tools available online, if yes, download them and get your hands dirty. This way you can practice what you’re theoretically learning from text books. We always are skeptic while picking up our career, thinking what is the demand in the market is. I use a simple technique by checking job portals like monster,, custom search by changing the no of years of experience. Ex: If I’m looking for a job as a software engineering and my competency is Java. Search as Java developers and vary the years of experience from 0-4 years. This experiment will help you finding out some critical information, viz; who are the companies hiring, what is the current demand in the market and the skill set the companies looking for. Every job posted has a detailed job description, which talks in detail about the task(s) need to perform on a daily basis. A JD can be used to understand other skills/tools which you need to learn to execute your day to day activities in the job. Always upload dummy resumes on job portals and try facing the telephonic round of interviews. This will build your confidence and you can understand what questions are typically being asked during an interview. Always make a note of these questions and prepare rebuttals/answers for them. So the next time when you face the similar question, will be ready with an answer. Always have a LinkedIn profile active and try to build your contact base. There are many active forums on different fields on it, which can help you understanding the domain/field and its way forward. Use social media effectively by making new friends from different field. Folks, especially aspiring to pickup writing, acting , music ,designing or any creative field can make use of websites like facebook, twitter ,google + to showcase their skills. The greatest advantage with social media is they are free to use and audience is great! You can build a huge fan base in no time and you never know one day you might be the chosen one. Acting /direction/lyricist/writers enthusiast can go ahead and make short films and upload them on YouTube/vimeo/daily motion. You can populate them facebook, twitter etc and build your fan base. You should always interact with people who like/comment on your work. Appreciate them for sparing time on your videos. Be open for any sort of comment/criticism /appreciations. Use them for your own good and never hark back from learning from your mistakes. You should always have an open mind and have progressive thought process. Bloggers /Journalist fanatic can use sites like blogger, word press to put up their blogs /articles and publicize them online. Make sure before using these content management sites, you go to articles/videos online to understand how to use them. You should always map your content with specific keywords which epitomize the article. Always Remember, more often you will be searched with the keywords and less with your name. Ex: When I need info about phones on Google, all the Google spiders and crawlers who are responsible to bring up the search results pick the articles by those keywords. So when you write an article on 2G scam and you categorize your article under keyword “Scam”, Google go ahead and pick all the articles under “Scam” category and top list them for you. Confusing? Try blogger /word press! You will enjoy it as I did when I started off blogging. You get many widgets/online which you can integrate with your blog. These widgets make your blog lively and since these widgets require some coding knowledge, you can also abreast your coding skills. I recommend you to use widgets which reads the traffic on your blog (there are many such online) and indiblogger badge widget. Indi blogger is a site/community which rate your blog based on the popularity online. Yes, use social media to promote them. Students who think that they have a nice vocabulary and articulated English speaking capability can looks for a job as a customer service representative or in a international call center/contact center. After reading this line, did you just say -A call center job in exclamation? Why? Aren’t these jobs? These also require skill to make a customer happy by providing resolutions or tele- marketing a product over the phone. Did you ever try doing it? Did you ever try convincing to buy something over the phone to someone who have never met you and don’t belong to same country? Tele calling is a great skill and they are not despicable or shameful jobs to do. Yes, initially when you start with your career, you might be paid less, but eventually when you grow you can make a lot of money. Process designing, restructuring, optimization or process quality is most sought after professions today. A six sigma green belt/black belt certified is paid more than what a typical software engineers/manager gets today. As a student, while doing under graduation you learn a lot of things, like computers, math, electronic devices, VLSI etc, but you only use 5-10 % of what you learn in your job. Most of the times in a job you start somewhere and end up somewhere. The common syllabus which everybody learns while in college and implemented it in your jobs is down to earth nature and ability to reproduce solutions to questions which your end customers post. So my dear friends who want to build a career with their customer centric skills and good articulated language speaking capability can go ahead now. Try reading related case studies on customer centricity and practice telephonic etiquette like good morning, How may I help you? , Sorry, thank you etc. As a customer service executive you should know where and when to use it to please your end customer. Remember , In the end making that sale or helping that customer is very important. Budding entrepreneurs, students who want to start their own business from the scratch should first understand where they can sell their skill to make money. You’re though process, dreams should always be larger than life and you should never be scared off sharing your dream with your peers, family or anyone for the matter of fact. It shows your confidence in wanting to become something different from others. Always raise your bar and don’t succumb to any negative criticism from your well wishers. As a country of a billion people, our society is dynamics are such that most of the parents like their wards to take up the normal 9-5 jobs. Our parenting structure is such that we are pushed to walk on a risk free path rather than a thorny one. But, remember! You should build a warrior like spirit within and never ever give up .Always have the big picture in mind and learn to prove your odds wrong by showing great results. Always believe in your skill, interact more with people, try to understand the problem areas and see how your skill can provide a solution to it. For example: You know Photoshop and can create some eye catchy images ,go and talk to small business and tell them that you can rebrand their business by making a new logo and nice looking banners and promote the business. This is just an example. Try different stuff with your skill, see how your skill or competency fill in the gaps and provide a solution to problems which can create huge impact, in terms of money, in terms of time etc. Go out in the market do a competitive study, talk to people ask them if you can help them in solving problems with your skill. But, you should always understand your niche and your competency in that particular skill. I suggest you to start with few customers. Address to their problem by asking them good questions. Come up with solutions and ask them for feedback. Ask them if your solution or idea will help them. At the beginning 99 times out of 100 times you goof it up and make a mess of it and you get scared to explain your customer about it. Congratulations! Failure is the first step of entrepreneurship. When you mess it up, that is where you understand customer centricity. You learn from the goof ups you make. Always be on your toes and explain the customer with the issues you’re facing. He might reprimand you for wasting his/her time, but most of the times end up suggesting or correcting you. Day by day when you mature and get comfortable with your skill, complains will slowly become compliments and without your knowledge you will become an entrepreneur. You should always look to make your business scalable and self sustaining. Always look for opportunities to earn more money. Remember! You should always look after a business for some time may be a year or two and after that the business should look after you. That’s how the Ambani’s, the mallaya’s did it, and it’s your turn now. Social entrepreneurship is another new age career option available these days. As Wikipedia say Social entrepreneurship is the work of social entrepreneurs. A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture). College is the best time to understand the real life problems of the society, as many of us comes from very modest backgrounds. Try and see how your skills and education be of some help to the society by and large. Go to villages and see how you can contribute to people there. Can you find good farming techniques and teach them? Can you find customers to sell their crop harvest for a good price? Can you teach a bunch of students who cannot afford good quality education? Can you save part of your pocket money and fund a child’s education? Do you see atrocity on a minor section of people? Can you help them out by starting a campaign among friend? Not just for social good or contributing to society. These days social entrepreneurship is a career option all together. Social indicatives like micro financing, corporative society are serving people and also making sure that these ventures self sustain. My batch mate and best buddy Rajesh Kamireddi is exploring this field and has done some exemplary work. His solutions /approaches are helping Kakinada from avoidable blindness and cataract. His initiatives and ideas won him several accolades and he was recently awarded as social entrepreneur of the Year by a corporate –governing body called ASSOCHAM. He is based out of Kakinada, so do get a chance to interact with him. Always keep in mind that the society gave us so many things, like education, identity, culture and respect and you should always pay back by doing your bit . I love a quote from a movie called “Pay it forward” – “When someone does you a big favor, don't pay it back... Pay It Forward “ Students should also show enthusiasm in politics. Understand the importance of politics in society and how a government servant like a minister, IAS, IPS officers and his ability to make changes in policies can bring changes in the society. Participate debates on social issues, read books related to our history and the problems we are facing as a society, do an advocacy research. Participate on campaigns like RTI ‘s and understand how they can make changes to the society. Encourage yourself to enter yourself into politics. If you think that you can bring about changes in society with your skills you always have a chance. But please don’t come into politics thinking it another money making career. As a country we need good politicians who can bring about change in the society conquering millions of problems we have today. Having said that you don’t need to be a politician every time to bring a change, you can also work against the status quo to bring about change you want to see. Remember Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal,Aruna Roy ,how they became a pressure point to the government resulting in changes in government functioning. Think about it and give it shot if you have it in you. UPSE enthusiast can start reading newspapers, watching news especially DD news ,read history books ,geography books from 8-12th standard CBSE,ICSE etc . Plan out from now onwards and read as much as you can which will help you cracking the civil services exam. There are good coaching institutes in Hyderabad, Delhi, always keep track of best ones available. Same with GRE, Gate, GMAT. You need to start your preparation right from college. Books like “All about words”, Baron and newspapers will help you in improving in your vocabulary. Keep practicing Quantitative reasoning, aptitude on a regular basis. Plan to write the exams in such a way that you start Post graduation studies immediately after college. I hardly have any information on these things. Please check the required information on Google to enlighten you. With this I would put a stop to this write up and allow you to think on what career options to choose which ignite your passion and always keep you interested while perceiving it. You can get in touch with me @ for any queries you may have in future. You can add me on facebook by searching me by name “ Ravi Vaka “. Good luck and I wish you good luck in your future endeavors. Regards,