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What Is The Right Time To Begin Career Planning For Students

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By Yashodhra Arora
10 Mar'22  8 min read
What Is The Right Time To Begin Career Planning For Students
Synopsis

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

A typical individual would spend approximately 90,000 hours at work, which equates to roughly 40 to 45 years in their lifetime. In addition, it is estimated that an individual switches careers about three or four times in their lifetime. Since you will be spending a significant portion of your life working, it is important to understand why career planning for students is essential, have a set of goals that you would want to achieve, and know what your next step in the career planning process would be.

Read more
What Is The Right Time To Begin Career Planning For Students
Synopsis

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

A typical individual would spend approximately 90,000 hours at work, which equates to roughly 40 to 45 years in their lifetime. In addition, it is estimated that an individual switches careers about three or four times in their lifetime. Since you will be spending a significant portion of your life working, it is important to understand why career planning for students is essential, have a set of goals that you would want to achieve, and know what your next step in the career planning process would be.

Read more

Career planning is a lifetime activity that a person engages in, during their working years. This is the process of determining your short-term, and long-term career goals, and your plans for achieving them. The career you choose will impact your entire life, including your self-confidence, income, social status, social circle, and where you live. It is indeed, an inevitable component of life planning.

Career Planning For Different Stages In Life

The career planning process can begin at any age, or at any time of your life. Ideally, when you reach class 10, you’ll have some idea, even if vague, of where your interests lie. Nevertheless, it's okay if you don't yet know what you want to do. The process of career planning often continues throughout the working years of an individual's life, and it is common for people to keep reviewing, and altering their career plans time and again.

Investing time in career planning is a good thing to do, no matter how old you are, or how long you've been working. After all, a plan is not something that's set in stone. As you encounter new opportunities and learn more about the industry, you might want to bring about some changes to it, such that your career reflects your progress. Your career goals may also change during the process due to life changes and experiences.

The following table gives a perspective on how the specific concerns related to career planning may vary, according to the academic and professional phase of life that a person is in.

How Career Planning May Differ For Different Age Groups

Career planning for students

Career planning for freshers

Career planning for working professionals and employees

  • Set small goals for your career, especially if you are unsure of which stream to pursue in class 11, or which college to attend after class 12.

  • You can enhance your understanding by researching career options, shadowing, or volunteering as much as you can because this will help you to formulate, and eventually achieve your long-term career goals.

  • You may face challenges at the start, if you are a recent graduate seeking to start a career, and become financially responsible.

  • Considering that some of you will have little or no working experience, staying up-to-date with the latest career trends, and pursuing professional courses that align with your interests, might be a good way to hold your career plans in place .

  • At this point in their career, a lot of people feel a slight sense of stability, while some of them may even be at the peak of their careers.

  • In order to stay in tune with the dynamism of the industry, people often choose to upskill themselves by pursuing relevant courses. Many also take the plunge into entrepreneurship.


Steps In Career Planning

The process of structured career planning might involve a few steps, here, we shall take a look at a few of them.

Step 1 - Self-Assessment

This is the first step towards successfully planning your career. It’s crucial to understand yourself first, and spend some time in self-introspection. This might be the most difficult step in career planning, but it forms the foundation for all the next steps.

You may start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What are my skills?

  • What motivates me?

  • What do I find interesting?

  • What are my professional goals?

  • What do I enjoy doing in my free time?

  • What qualifications and experience do I have?

  • What type of work environment would I prefer?

Further, create a personal profile. List the skills and qualities you feel you have and those you would want to develop, so that you can compare different careers and choose one, which is the main objective of career planning here.

Step 2 - Exploring/ Identifying Career Options

After having carried out a self-analysis and discovering your strengths and interests, the next career planning and career development move would be to conduct a thorough research about different career options and growth opportunities available. Try and get details about the work environment, salary, the kind of work-life balance different careers would offer, and what you would want to carry through.

  • Explore occupations: Learn and research about different career options by using the library, reading newspapers, career magazines, and online resources.
  • Research Market: To gain a better understanding of what a job is really like, interview people in similar occupations. The interview can help you determine whether you are a good fit for the job.

Step 3 - Decision-Making

  • Identify and bridge gaps: After gathering information about yourself and the world of work, the next step would be to identify, and bridge the gaps between the desired job roles, what you have, and what you would need to achieve your career goals. Talk to people in the industries, and get an idea about the qualifications, experience, and skill requirements or any additional degree or experience that is required to get that desired job.

  • Evaluate: Determine which career areas are a good match for you.

  • Choose goals: Decide what you want your career to look like and determine how to reach your goals.

Step 4 - Creating An Action Plan: Set SMART Goals

After shortlisting from the range of alternatives, the next career planning and career development move would be to prepare an action plan to begin working towards your career goals. It’s important to set realistic goals, and set proper timelines. Setting SMART goals can especially help in career planning for students who are undecided, but want a structure to their career path.

  • Specific – Be clear and specific in identifying your goals, and your objective of career planning.

  • Measurable – Set realistic goals to determine progress and accomplishments.

  • Attainable – Plan short-term goals and long-term attainable goals.

  • Relevant – How relevant or important the career is to you.

  • Time-bound – Commit to specific timeframes.

Tips For Effective Career Planning

If you are a student, a fresh graduate, or have been working for a few years, and are now thinking of making a career switch, these tips will prove effective in navigating you through the career planning process.

Keep updating yourself: The career planning process is, in a way, lifelong. It is always good to keep reviewing your original objective of career planning, and modify and update it as per the changing job market trends. Enrol in online courses and certification programs that fit your professional goals.
Develop transferable skills: It is always beneficial to develop a wide range of general skills that can be applied across careers. For instance, communication skills, leadership and management skills, critical thinking, etc.
Make sure you keep your options open: Rather than sticking with a single career choice, it is always better to keep an alternative in your mind, or rather, keep yourself open to the possibility of change. When you are planning to leave your current job or transition to another, always make sure you have another job lined up first.
Engage your network: Communicate with people in your industry or within your network. You can seek support and advice from your parents, teachers, mentors, etc.
Volunteer: While it may be difficult to find paid work in your field, you can still gain experience. Consider volunteering part-time for a group that aligns with your goals. It is especially useful for those looking to work with non-profit organisations.
Apply for internships: Seek out opportunities to work with companies and people you admire. Internships are a great way to gain experience, and network. In addition, you'll be the first to know about new full-time opportunities
Changing careers: It is never too late to start over, regardless of how old you are, or how long you have been employed in the same position. Changing your career is always an option if you are not satisfied with your present one.

To-Do/Action

Each child emits energy that, when channelled correctly, can yield laser-like results.

Once you have decided on your career goal, you have a focal point for that energy, which can ignite into a flame of passion that is likely to enable you to achieve wonders, and attain the heights of success. In order to harness the energy, you may create your own 'Career Chakra' - a wheel whose top represents the chosen profession, and whose spokes represent the numerous elements of your life that will support you in navigating towards your career goals.

The chakra consists of six elements, namely the following:-

Stream – Fill out the career chakra for your chosen stream or one you plan to choose.
Colleges/Institutions – Identify which college/institution best suits your career goals.
Tuitions/Coaching Classes – Decide which tuition/coaching classes will be most beneficial.
Extra-curricular Activities – Participate in extracurricular activities that will be useful to you in your schools, such as joining the chess club, the art club, or a robotics club.
Self-Learning – Determine the activities you can do on your own to gain knowledge.
People – Identify the people who can assist you in achieving your career goals.

career planning, career planning process, career planning for students, career planning and development moveFramework Of A Career Chakra

career planning, career planning process, career planning for students, career planning and development move


It is important to select a career that fits well with your interests, goals, and abilities. As a rule of thumb, it is always advisable to have at least 2- 3 career options in hand, rather than just one. You will always be in control of your career planning process when you begin at the right time, and keep reviewing your progress. It is okay to falter sometimes, and realise a while later that maybe your calling was somewhere other than where you currently are. Always remember that a successful career is a summation of multiple correct choices, but a few erroneous choices made as well. However, what is your responsibility is to stay conscious, aware, and not let fear and societal obstacles come in the way of your career planning process.

Yashodhra Arora is a counselling psychologist. She holds more than 10 years of hands-on experience in HR, and behavioural and career counselling of high school students, in India and the USA.

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