Career decisions - don't do them at the dinner table

Making a decision at the dinner table surrounded by family and friends is usually a good idea. Your loved ones can help you weigh the pros and cons and can come up with scintillating new suggestions. But when it comes to career decisions, don't do it.
Don't make those crucial decisions lightly at the dinner table. Rather go out there and investigate the options in a thorough and energetic manner, advises Natalie Rabson of Boston City Campus and Business College.

"Get all the career information that you need and weigh your choices carefully," she says. "And don't forget there are likely to be as many prejudices to overcome as there are people sitting around the table."

While you may think that becoming a secretary is the coolest career move you can make, someone is bound to point out the not-so-cool aspects of secretarial work. Depending on how deep the prejudice runs, such a person will mention scary office stories - and may land up putting you off a career choice that you were quite serious about pursuing.

"We all have prejudices," says Rabson. "The problem is that prejudices come out of personal experience, and while we are happy to learn from others, we should not allow someone else's personal experience to completely cloud our own decisions and good judgment, and in turn make it difficult for young people to decide on a career and a field of study. Furthermore, family and friends have their own personal vision of what they would like you to become. Your uncle, for example, may think that engineering is a great career for you to aspire to, your mother on the other hand may look down her nose at engineers; for her the only career worthy of her beloved little girl is that of a hot-shot attorney at law."

The only way forward towards a healthy career choice is through career education and personal reflection - this applies to young people as well as to their parents and adult mentors. Some of the careers that exist today did not exist 10 years ago - your parents may not know about them. Some of the careers required a degree as minimum entry requirement while today they require a diploma. IT and animation are good examples of these. Some jobs have become obsolete - think of telegraph operators (sent messages via telegraph, now we have email). Others that were seen as lowly jobs, today count among the highest paid professions.

"It's best to obtain career advice from someone who specialises in career guidance," says Rabson. "Such a person can provide the most up to date information about careers available, which careers are in demand in the world of work and which qualifications are needed to enter each career. Boston City Campus and Business College offers prospective students free consultations with experienced advisors to ensure students enrol for courses that are appropriate to their skills (current and to be acquired) and abilities and that can increase their chances of employment.

"That's not to say you should disregard the input of others," she adds. We depend on family and friends to provide emotional and financial support, so it is important to take cognizance of their advice, and at the same time, to get them to believe in us and our choices."

1 Feb 2012 10:16