When a young student completes his higher secondary school education, he faces the ‘choice’ of his future career. He hits a wall- a wall of indecisiveness and confusion. The student usually loses a moment that decides his whole life, either under the pressure of family or the decision paralysis and somebody else decides his fate. The situation is with hundreds and millions of students in Pakistan. This metaphoric expression symbolizes the life of students after intermediate in our country. Undermining the importance of career choice in Pakistan has led us to many problems we face today including, high unemployment rates, low-quality production rate, the low satisfaction rate of employees, and high turnover rates. Most students don’t even know their interests and which career choice is right for them? We are stuck between good and bad career choices and fail to acknowledge the gray area between these two extremes.
Pakistan’s education system needs urgent reforms. To date, our students are taught about the lives of scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, and poets but not about their own lives. How to make decisions? Or, how to find your interests? Or better, how to think creatively and critically? These apparently vague and meaningless concepts lead to severe cognitive disabilities, making these students suffer for their lives. These inabilities reflect in their career choices and justify why most of the workforce in Pakistan is unsatisfied, why young employees tend to jump from one job to the other in search of job satisfaction, which is never to be found. Career choices dictate what we will be doing for more than half of our lives. Though not mandatory, career choice is the path we decide for ourselves and decide to walk in the very same direction for the rest of our life.
Since the concept of career change lacks in Pakistan and worse, is being frowned upon, it becomes an obligation for a student to choose a career that he or she will continue to pursue till retirement. With a plethora of choices in regards to careers, a young mind can easily get lost in the search for the perfect choice. Listed below are some of the main reasons due to which students choose the wrong path, undermining their passion and talents.
Imposition of parents’ favorite career choices:
The most evident and prevalent reasons behind the wrong career choices in Pakistan. Pakistan’s culture emphasizes strong family ties, so we can not deny the negative effect of parents’ influence on the career choice of the children. The difference between parents’ and students’ wishes and ambitions results in poor direction and dissatisfaction for the student further down in life. There is reason to fulfill parents’ desire, but jeopardizing one’s career and future might not be the wisest decision.
Social stature of an occupation:
In a Pakistani household, some occupations and careers are glorified to such an extent that students begin to think that not choosing one of these careers will make them a loser. Such professions steal all the clout, and students strive harder for these professions. Students envision these careers as perfect, but nothing is universally perfect, right?
Peer pressure might be the most powerful reason in career choices after the parents’ choices and ambitions. When faced with a difficult decision, we look up to our peers for help. The same happens in this case, and when we see them going for a career without an iota of doubt, we jump in. Herd behavior is one of the most impactful shapers of human cognition and the mind.
Lack of career counseling:
Last but not least is the lack of career counseling for students. In Pakistan, it is common to turn a blind eye to the importance of mental health and counseling of students. There is a lack of awareness in parents about the appropriate counseling and guiding techniques to help their child become better at decision making and critical thinking.
By far, we know what factors play a role in the decision-making process of career choice for a student. But the question remains, how to solve and mitigate these problems? How to make our child a good critical thinker and decision-maker? Listed below are some of the questions to give a headstart to your child in finding their passion and a good career for themselves.
- What are your passions, and what does a ‘career’ mean to you?
- What is the definition of success for you, and how do you envision a perfect career?
- What do you really enjoy doing, and are you good at it?
- Can this skill be a viable profession? Is there enough market demand for this skill?
- What extra training and education would you need to turn this skill into a lucrative career?
Take some time, and let your child answer these questions. This practice will allow them to think critically but visualize what they want to become in the future. We need to introduce career counseling for students before university or even earlier, focusing on polishing their innate talents and abilities rather than pushing them to do what everyone else is doing.