Surviving the 21st century, a professional’s survival guide (Part -3)
“If you enjoy what you do, you won’t have to work for single day in your life”
Picking up where we left off in the last installment, we get into the nitty-gritties of a “happily ever after career”. So once you have decided your discipline of interest, it is imperative that you stick to it come what may. Unfortunately this is easier said than done, so often times – caught in the avalanche of “well meant and practical advice” from one’s well wishers, and that of “the frequent gold rushes” that grip the certain industry sectors from time to time – you are bound to be plagued by doubts – especially when you see your contemporaries pursuing domains of expertise that seems to be financially more lucrative and guaranteed to take them on a fast track to “success”. Whenever you are confronted with such advice or self doubt, remind yourself that a choice of career is a decision that is going to stay with you forever; and therefore its returns quotient should be never just be judged on a singular short term financial parameter – but on a number of other intangible parameters, like job satisfaction, your passion for the domain, and most importantly if it is something you would be able to bring yourself to do for the next 40 odd years of your life. An acid test for such a situation is “the billionaire test”. If you were a billionaire and did not have to work for a living for as long as you lived, which is the profession you would have chosen to pursue, would you rather be a “shark slayer” a “video game reviewer” or “a chef”. “Remember there is more success to be had by being the best in a mediocre field – rather than be mediocre in the best field.”
Now that you have zeroed in on your area of interest it is important to create a roadmap for achieving that goal, the crucial element of which will – of course – be the education and training you need to pursue. The term quality of education offered by an entity is often misunderstood, it is of course true that infrastructural accompaniments contribute to the quality of education, but if one were to pick a single most important factor that is critical in determining the quality of education it would be the overall academic environment that is on offer, i.e. whether the academic institution in question encourages a culture that is steeped in a relentless pursuit of excellence and knowledge – or is it purely an entity that is solely dedicated to following a checklist of a prescribed syllabi.
To understand the implications of the above statement let us ask ourselves – why is it that – when all colleges virtually teach the same principles of engineering, some are more sought after than others? The obvious answer from a casual observer’s perspective would be “better job opportunities after completing college” but then why do industries prefer recruiting from some universities / colleges rather than others – even though they teach the same subjects and books? Again the obvious answer is; it is because they expect a higher “return on their investment” on recruits from those specific entities. In other words the industry perceives candidates from these educational entities to be genuinely passionate and involved in their chosen discipline, therefore – more attuned to prevalent industry needs, trends and norms, and consequently – more likely to come up with new ideas and concepts that will prove profitable for their organization.
Thus it follows an ideal educational institution should strive to create an overall environment that encourages or in fact demands – genuine passion, a continuous exchange of ideas, a research oriented, knowledge seeking mindset among its students, while pursuing active ties and collaboration with respective industry segments.
So for those of you who are in still in the “good job” and “good money” frame of mind – this is how the equation goes, the less importance you give to the monetary criterion while making a decision pertaining to your career, the better chances of you making more of it.
Unfortunately though the above may seem an obviously logical process – a lot of educational systems (not just institutes) get it wrong. That is why choosing the right system of education is sometimes as important as choosing the right institute and the right career.
To illustrate the above point better, let me site a somewhat extreme example, if you were an automotive design engineer would you look for a career in New Zealand? In all fairness if you were not too particular about the type of “job” you did – it may make sense, but otherwise it is commonsensical logic – that it would be futile for an automotive design engineer to seek a career in a country which has does not boast of a single car brand. Yet, in a mad zeal for a good “job”, numerous students make such illogical decisions pertaining to their career with alarming frequency- and unfortunately end up making compromises with their original career aspirations