Engineer, doctor, lawyer, teacher – that’s a fairly short list to encompass the living of seven-point-something billion people, right? Don’t get me wrong, there are others too, but they can be unbearably vague – government, writer, scientist. Our clueless naive selves stare at the adult-career-counsellor listing down jobs as if they were making a list of groceries.
The movie 3 Idiots starring Amir Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan was a big smack to, what I would like to call, the limited career problem. The movie portrayed how it was common for a teenager to encounter a fork in the road of life where they had to choose either engineering or medicine. All the other paths were covered up by dusts of shame because they are only about fame or name. If these are the only choices presented to children, then they will never be able to understand that there are jobs and careers which can fit their set of skills and passions. One of the characters of the movie wanted to become a wildlife photographer; how many of us are given the opportunity to explore something like photography as an actual profession rather than a hobby?
I remember having to pick subjects in high school based on the career I was interested in. On a spectrum of career decision making, there are a few people who know exactly what they want, a few who have absolutely no idea, and there are many who are busy drowning in the anxiety and confusion of making a choice, and just want to be able to experience and learn as much as they can. I belonged to the people in between – I still do. That is probably why I chose to go to a liberal arts university – to be able to choose a ‘mismatch’ of combinations to study. I enjoyed writing, which is quite axiomatic, but until now I had no idea that there were more career options for writing than just an ambiguous writer and a journalist. It’s easy to pin this down to a sheer lack of research skills, but try reminiscing about the first time you were introduced to the real world and the roles available in it.
The solution to this problem is simple – teenagers should be exposed to career options that go beyond the conventional, broad and vague categories. The post-pandemic 21st century world is rapidly changing and becoming more interdisciplinary. A person can stand out with a unique set of skills. This means that the traditional categories of careers are becoming redundant. I think what our generation needs from career counselling is diverse options that cater to an individual’s skills and interests. Flexibility and exploration should be the new mainstream hack to choosing a career. Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore till you find what you need – there is no right or wrong!