For most parents, the prospect of their teenage children graduating from school (class XII) and entering college is both exciting and worrying. Exciting because a whole new world of adventure awaits them and worrying because the crucial decision of choosing a subject/stream undergrad specialisation and career choice has to be made. Though stream specialisation — arts, commerce and science — in India happens after class X, many students end up choosing a different path in college. That is why its important for parents and students to chalk out a comprehensive career plan in class IX.
According to the US National Career Development Association (NCDA), high school students are often unaware of their strengths as they dont have the experience to decide what is best for them. NCDA stresses that students need an education/career plan, a financial plan (for financing future studies), strong relationship with adults or parents (to mentor them), and personal discipline to pursue their future goals. Therefore, its important for parents to mentor and guide their children to make informed career choices.
Here is some advice for parents to help their teens with career planning:
Parents should encourage children to analyse their interests and identify favourite and least favourite subjects. Exam marks, classroom performance and personal interests are the indicators of true potential. If children are passionate about subjects such as physics, chemistry and maths, explore the option of clubbing maths and life sciences.
FIX YOUR GOAL
It becomes easier to choose a subject stream and elective if career objectives are first envisioned. If you first set your career goal, then you can choose a stream which will enable you to realise your dream career. But always make alternative plans based on a childs talents and skills.
Internships play a crucial role in helping students get a reality check on their potential. It gives children an opportunity to apply the theoretical concepts they have learnt in the classroom to real life work situations. As interns, they learn to collaborate with clients and real projects, meet deadlines, and multi-task. The exposure also offers insights into the work ethic expected in a particular industry.
Also read: The dawn of new-age creative careers
VISITING CAREER FAIRS/CAREER COUNSELLING
While deciding career options, think out of the box. If a student is pursuing a science stream, there are thousands of career options beyond engineering and medicine. A professional career advisor will be able to apprise you of the plethora of interesting, unique and lucrative career opportunities available in the 21st century. For instance, an individual who is proficient in English and possesses a thorough knowledge of life sciences can have a thriving career in medical writing.
ADVICE FROM SENIORS, FAMILY AND TEACHERS
We all need words of wisdom from our well-wishers to stay grounded as well as motivated. When charting a career route, parents need to encourage teenagers to consult senior students, family, friends, and teachers. Seniors can give insights into the pros and cons of pursuing a particular subject, while teachers know the childs potential and can throw light on which stream is best-suited for her. Wide-raging discussions with knowledgeable people can open up a variety of new career perspectives.
BE INFORMED AND UPDATED
There is no alternative to good research. As a parent, look far and wide to cull news about significant career-shaping courses, institutions and opportunities, and encourage your teenager to do the same. Internet-savvy students can also make a shortlist of colleges offering interesting subjects and courses. Therefore study their websites to remain updated about latest developments from faculty, academic achievements, scholarships and job placements.
(Vibha Kagzi is the Harvard-educated founder and chief education officer of www.reachivy.com)