THE good news is that today, there are practically limitless options for students wishing to pursue tertiary education; the bad news is that more choices means more headaches and indecision.
Besides, is a 17-year-old student who has spent all his life in school and has zero working experience able to make the “right” decision on his career and therefore the course he needs to take?
It is certainly a tough call for most students – and for their parents who have to foot the bill. While some are blessed with knowing exactly what they wish to do, the big majority are unsure. Worse still, there are many who are quite clueless as to what programme they should pursue and simply follow where their friends go.
Wise career decisions require research and some understanding of what a job entails. Research may be thorough or as simple as talking to people involved in the careers of their choice. Careers need to match the personality and aptitude of students too.
To get a better idea of what a particular career is all about, students should apply for an internship or an attachment with a company that offers a career in their field of interest. Nothing beats being in an environment that offers students a glimpse of the working world.
If a student is unable to get such work placement, he should read up as much as he can and talk to people who can share first-hand experiences.
Another option is to take a pre-university course that will allow the student to keep his options open until he has a better idea of what he should do. Of course, being able to shortlist the areas he is interested in will help narrow the scope of his choices.
The good news is that whatever decision made, right or wrong, does not have to be the “final” decision. Often a basic degree is the stepping-stone to many other options. The paper qualification merely opens the door to job interviews but employers seek staff who are trainable and willing to learn and work hard.
Complete career changes are common today, so is taking up post-graduate qualifications in a different field. With lifelong learning, there is no real “wrong” decision.
To help students narrow their choices, StarEducation has devoted two issues to give them some insights into a wide range of careers.
Because of the keen interest in medicine every year, we decided to dedicate the first issue (published on Jan 2) on medical and medical-related careers. There were interviews with a cardiothoracic surgeon, haematologist, radiologist, physiotherapist, veterinary surgeon, podiatrist, biomedical scientist and dietician.
This week, we are profiling a range of careers – from accountants and insurance advisors to chefs and disc jockeys. We have also included more medical-related careers that are less common but much needed in this developing and aging society.
Also, in light of devastating recent world events – natural disasters like the tsunami as well as man-induced wars – we have included another career that often goes unnoticed, that of a social worker or activist. In the past weeks, following the tsunami disaster, social workers have been aided by hundreds of volunteers who have stepped up to do their bit for the victims in the region.
Among these volunteers are school and college students who help sort out and pack clothes and load boxes onto lorries and freight containers on weekends and weekdays after school or college.
A few of these socially conscious students were captured at work at the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur (cover pic). While the selection of careers published in this issue can at best give students a taste of what options lie before them, we hope it will provide the basis and the impetus for them to make informed decisions.
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