Early career planning quite simply means planning for the future at the nascent stage of our career, preferably during the later years of middle school. At each stage of our career, be it graduating from school or college, or starting a job, it is important to have clarity about our long-term and short-term goals.
Individuals who start planning their careers at a young age, have often been found to outshine those who were comparatively late in deciding upon a career path. Today, more than ever before, it is crucial to plan ahead, since the high level of specialization in the professional world means that specific positions in each field needs certain qualifications which can only be achieved over many years of planning and hard work. The rapid growth in technological advancements has given a new impetus to career planning in the last decade. In the US, most high schools require students to have a career and/or education plan. The focus has been on students in class 9, mostly rural which is beneficial since students in rural areas have been found to be the least likely to receive support from adults in developing and periodically reviewing their plans. It also benefits them, since compared to students in urban areas, they face greater financial barriers and therefore they get less chances to experiment. Planning has been found to vary between countries not only based on their respective labour markets but also on family interactions.
One of the professions that requires a high level of planning are the bureaucratic jobs of a country. Quite often these jobs are offered to candidates via a qualifying examination. These examinations may take several attempts spanning over the period of several years. Owing to the nature of these exams, a background in history, geography or economics can be an added advantage instead of the traditional STEM subjects. Another point to note is the shorter duration of graduation in non-technical degree programs, which gives aspirants from such streams a head start compared to their peers. Displaying a high level of expertise in an extracurricular activity is always an advantage in interviews. Community service is especially important since it shows the candidate’s sense of responsibility and belonging to the people. Excelling at a sport, preferably playing at the state level, requires years of hard work and so does identifying the subjects important in preparing for such job entrances.
One such example is the IAS CSE, which requires a strong understanding of governance – both at the national and state level, history and literature. Another such example is the bank entrances such as SBI and IBPS P.O. and Clerk. One vital aspect of such exams is the overlap of syllabi for a group of exams. For example, entrances to RBI Grade B and IAS have a lot in common when it comes to the papers and syllabus, while the other bank exams test English, quantitative skills and reasoning ability. Students can therefore have different options instead of having only one chance at a job each year.
Career planning often involves an accurate assessment of skills and interests, study of respective career paths, finding successful professionals, understanding the kind of profile needed for the jobs, and implementing the plan through proper guidance and decision-making.
However, career planning still remains a less popular and often inaccessible option in developing and underdeveloped countries, owing to the lack of diversity and generally traditional nature of jobs, as well as the high cost of career counselling. As the markets grow, new jobs with more specialized entry paths can be expected to be created which should increase the demand for career planning. The increased market for career counsellors might lead to an increase in the number of professionals, thereby providing the people greater affordability.