Making career choices, navigating the proverbial maze

15Mar 2016
Grace Kambaulaya
The Guardian
Making career choices, navigating the proverbial maze

GLOBALIZATION has led to increased competition and threat to the very survival of work organisations as well as employment opportunities and modalities.

Many traditional jobs have been replaced by new ones or have been radically transformed. Increasingly, flexible employment contracts and greater heterogeneity of the workforce are common and central features of the current labour market.

The growth complexity of the word of work has been coupled by the ‘massification’ of post secondary education and training opportunities.

There has been an expansion of provision at all levels of the education system in the East Africa Community partner states’ universities’ resulting in great number of students of all ages, institutional diversity and academically heterogeneity.

When compared to some years ago, students today have a broader range of educational opportunities although they face a tougher competitive and more complex labour market.

The workforce today has to learn to assess a myriad of information systems so as to map out their education training and employment routes that fit their interests, skills, competencies and qualifications to better fit in an ever evolving labour market.

This implies, more educational choices must be made adding to the complexity of the situation.
Career development

In view of this continuous development in employment and education, access to high quality career guidance is important for creating and maintaining competitive knowledge based on economic and social inclusion.

Career development for most people is a lifelong process of engaging the work world through choosing from a multitude of employment opportunities.

Researcher Mkumbo Mitula of the University of Dar es salaam describes the complex and demanding career development path as a big problem facing students.

“In undertaking career development, the process is influenced by many factors including the environment in which one lives and their personal aptitude and educational attainments,” he notes.

“Choosing an appropriate degree programme is a daunting task for university students and many make this choice before they are ready.

A major turning point in an adolescents’ life involves this career choice which they make while still in high school,” he adds.

The Basics: how to decide!

There are key thematic areas that influence career choice for young adults, these are family, school and the socially culture nexus.

There are three steps to successful career planning:

Reflecting – Thinking about what makes you tick, your interests and skills, what you enjoy doing and why. Things you are less good at or don’t enjoy.

All this count before you start planning your next move. You will need to find out more about your own interests, likes and dislikes.

You can start by answering these two questions: What are your interests? What do you enjoy doing at school or in your spare time? For example, you might like arts, music sports etc.

Exploring – This entails finding out more about the different courses, training schemes and jobs that you could move on to.

The world of work is changing all the time and to help you plan your career, you will need to find out more about the kind of jobs that are out there now and which ones will be big in the future.

To get some inspiration, you could browse the web where you will find data and video clips about various jobs and their current and future trends.

Planning – Next you must plan and this means sorting the different options open to you into order of priority.

It entails deciding what steps you need to take to get more information about your favourite options to improve your chances of success and to apply.

Plan B – Lastly you must have a back-up plan. Even if you have the ideal career in mind, it’s a good idea to think about other choices in case things don’t work out the way you plan. This is especially important if you are aiming for a very popular course or career.

For example, if you don’t get the grades you are hoping for or there are no places available in your chosen apprenticeship, you need to have a good alternative to fall back onto.

Think about your alternative career choices and have a second or third option ready in case your plans change. This could be a different career choice or perhaps a different route towards the first choice or a similar one.

Steps in career planning

1) Understand your interests, abilities, values, and personality.
• What do you enjoy doing and do well? What are your hobbies? Your favorite school subjects?
• What features do you like and dislike in your work, household chores, and volunteer work?

Need help in understanding yourself in relation to career preferences? See your high school counselor or CFCC career counselor.

2) Explore different careers.

• What occupations sound exciting to you?
• Can you find someone in the community with a similar occupation and talk with them?
• Ask yourself, “Would you like to be doing this job all day?”
• Why not explore careers by working at temporary services, internships and co-ops? Need more information about careers? Search for books, videos, information on computer, and visit school career centers.

3) Learn about education and training for occupations of interest.

• How much school is required for these careers? One, two, or four years?
• Where are these schools and how much will this training cost?

Need to examine your options? Talk to your high school counselor or CFCC counselor.

Occupation categories

Occupations are classified into categories– people, data, things, and ideas. Do you see yourself working with people? With data? With things? With ideas? Or a combination of these categories?
People-related occupations

Do you enjoy working with and for other people–educating, counseling, and informing? Are you friendly and like to help others?

Examples of people-related occupations are day care workers, teachers, sales representatives, police officers, social workers, psychologists, recreation workers, and counselors.

Data-related occupations

Do you like to explore ideas and analyze data? Do you have abilities in math and science? Are you curious and often like to work independently?

Examples of data-related occupations are accounting/office clerks, paralegals, engineers, medical transcriptionists, and lab techs.

Things or “Hands-On” related occupations

Do you like working with your hands to build or produce things? Are you mechanically inclined and enjoy working outside and on machinery?

“Hands-on ” occupations are machinsts, electricians, truck drivers, chefs, builders, auto mechanics, and welders.

Idea-related occupations

Are you creative? Do you enjoy the performing and visual arts? Are you always thinking of new ideas and innovations?

Idea-related occupations include interior designers, artists, musicians, computer programmers, architects, and chemists.

You can have occupations that combine categories such as people/data (radiologic technologists, pharmacy technicians, dental assistants, and nurses) or data/”hands-on” (marine science technicians, drafter, engineering and computer systems technicians).