Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Selecting the right career option is less important than making a Unique Learning plan

Anushka went through a thorough process of selecting her career options when she was in 10th. She also gave aptitude test where she discovered that her logical skill is very good. She wanted to go outside India, have a career that has got lot of potential. So she chose Diploma in software, and wanted to take a degree course in software later. She did very well in all the three years. She scored first class throughout. However, in third year of diploma, she discovered she cannot continue with software discipline. But everyone strongly dissuaded her. Her friends told her that her marks indicate that she is fit for software. She was thoroughly confused.

What did Anushka do wrongly? Did she go through wrong aptitude tests? Or did she select a wrong career option? Or did she make a mistake because her mind was 'used' by her emotion ( instead of using emotion to take the right decision) that she wanted to go out of India? What do you think went wrong?

Aptitude tests are only indicative. They will tell you that your logical skill is good, or your numerical skill  is poor, or your spatial skill is OK. Aptitude tests do not tell you that the career option you must choose if your logical and numerical skill is good. With good logical and numerical skill, you have many options: Mathematics, any engineering discipline, physics and others. Infact, by going through your past exam scores in different subject, you can find 'which skill' of yours is good. You do not need an aptitude test ! In other words, aptitude tests are not useful in taking a career decision at all. As Benjamin Bloom, the researcher who has researched talented people found out, that not even the best of the talent have unusual talents at a young age of 12-15.

But Anushka did a much bigger mistake. She got satisfied by selecting a right career option. Because of too much data about the skill market and too little information about yourself, no one can choose an ideal career option at such an early age. In other countries, career options are taken in early twenties. Because of this inherent complexity, it is more prudent to draw up a Unique Learning plan, a plan that will enable the student to develop his/her abilities.

In other words, Anushka should have made a Unique Learning Plan to develop her abilities. She may use her abilities in different domains depending on her interest ( such as software, other engineering disciplines). , She may design an engagement that will her develop her abilities deeper, and change her future options by finding her growth in her chosen abilities. What Anushka needed was a Unique learning plan, not a career-option which will come later? Career-option is just using one's ability in a domain. Career option taken at an early age can never be accurate; because one has to get ready to face different scenarios which are different than predicted. A flexible career option required to tackle different emergent scenarios can help you prepare better when your chosen career-option turns out to be wrong. If she had made a plan, Anushka would have been ready with the next option without feeling confused and lost.

The second feature of unique learning plan is equally important: the feature of engaging with the external world that will help you engage 'fully' with the chosen abilities. Although Anushka did not make a plan, she engaged with the field of software completely; not half-heartedly. Her marks in software proved her full engagement. Project work that helps one apply the learnt principles, is another indicator of full engagement. Anushka did her project work well. So when despite full engagement, one finds that one does not like the field, like Anushka did, it is time to take a call. That she got good marks in software is a proof of her engagement, not a proof that software suits her. Anushka's friend confused her, because they misunderstood the 'meaning' of high marks. This confusion happened because Anushka had not prepared a Unique Learning Plan. Software domain is just an option to use her abilities, not a fixed path that has to be taken.

Third feature of Unique Learning plan is the design of cross-road point ( the point where you can change your chosen abilities if something went wrong in the growth of those abilities). In Anushka's case, this cross-road point (shifting from software to some other engineering discipline) automatically got created because she realised she is not so good in software. Imagine what would have happened to Anushka if she had decided to do software degree course after 12th. She would have discovered that her choice is wrong at the end of degree course. She would have perhaps done what most other engineering students do: Do MBA after finishing engineering. That is why you find, that even today, 80% of the students in IIM come from Engineering. When a student chooses career option at 12th class, with very little engagement with outside world, it is bound to be wrong. This is why a Unique Learning plan is required to develop and use those abilities, not just making one single career option.


Designing a flexible Learning plan is more important than choosing one best career option, because that allows you to readjust your plan with the changing realities. Your plan should help you chose alternative options (based on alternative scenarios that are applicable to the specific student), chose engagement that will help you find if the chosen path is right for you and design cross-road points that will help you change the path, if required.

What are you doing for your child? If you are just trying to find one ideal career option for your child, you are not helping your child. If you are really wanting to do something meaningful for your child, please help me make a career-plan.


Anonymous said...

I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

Sanjiv Bhamre said...

I wish you could specify your name. It would have helped me, if you asked specific question, on say the first feature of plan. Without any specific feedback, i chose to write what is right according to me; not according to what you need. So it will help me if you are specific with your feedback: which section would you like to be elaborated, which section you disagree with, which section did you like the least and so on