How to jump start your career

18th Nov 2016
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Of the 10 million people who graduate in India every year, about two million are engineers. Irrespective of what branch of engineering they’ve studied, be it civil engineering or electrical engineering, most of them find themselves shoehorned into jobs that are conventionally meant for computer science graduates.

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a chance to get out of the rat race? Wouldn’t you want a career in your chosen branch, or with a skill that you have, as opposed to ‘fitting in’ at a place where you don’t belong? This is precisely why jump-starting your career is important. With some careful planning and a good deal of tact, you can actually put yourself ahead of all of the people in line, be it for a job or any other opportunity. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Consider your interests: As children, we all have dreams. More often than not, this is what we want as adults too, but society and the pressure of earning causes them to take a backseat. The first step towards jump-starting your career is identifying what you’re good at. Are you a biotech engineer who just loves to code? Perhaps you’ve always nurtured entrepreneurial dreams. Maybe you’re an artist at your core.Sit down with a pen and paper and make a comprehensive list of the things you’re good at and that you enjoy doing.
  2. Think laterally: In the artist example, we understand that it may not be possible for everyone to chuck what they’re doing and go become a painter. Use your lateral thinking to reach a middle ground. It doesn’t always matter what degree you have. Most companies hire for the skill, and a good artist is almost always a great graphic designer. Following your passion doesn’t mean taking the most extreme path.By choosing alternate career paths that your peers may not have thought of, you’re already putting your professional life way ahead of everyone else’s.
  3. Do more: This may seem obvious, but very few among us have the drive or the commitment to hone our skills on the side while pursuing a degree. If you want an MBA from a tier-1 college, start preparing in the second year. Preparation doesn’t entail entrance exams alone — interviewers for the IIMs and even on the UPSC board often look for projects you may have done to support your career aspirations.Colleges abroad even ask for serious social involvement and the impact these projects have had on the community. Projects are a great avenue to learn practically and showcase your skills. Talk to career counsellors about where to find them.
  4. Learn more: If you have one prescribed textbook for a certain subject, would you consider going beyond it? However, if you know that you want a career in a certain industry, learn more than everyone else. Disregard that one book. This applies to working professionals too — look beyond your comfort zone.With online courses, summer courses, and even a well-stacked library, your learning could go miles ahead of your peers. With online certifications, you get a chance to showcase this to prospective employers.

At the crux of all of these efforts is to remember that once we graduate, we’re adults in every sense of the word. This doesn’t mean we must isolate people, just that we need to wake up earlier and do what is necessary to stand out. The early bird does get the worm, and all the perks that go with it.

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