19 September 2012

Many paths lead to your dream job

By Darren John Angking

Many institutions of higher learning have departed from the old practice of accepting only the smartest and most capable students. Instead, they are opening up to the masses. As long as a potential student demonstrates the capacity to learn, they would be accepted as a student. While this approach may increase accessibility to higher education, it has a slight downside.

Today, obtaining a bachelor’s degree has become so common that some parts of society look down on people who do not have a degree. On the other hand, it must be stressed that studying for a degree for the sake of getting a paper qualification is not ideal either.
 It is a fact that some students may not have made up their mind about what they want to do with the rest of their life when they leave school.  

Any lecturer from any institution of higher learning will tell you that they know of at least one or two students in their program who wish they were somewhere else. What can you do if you are one of these students? The first thing you should ask yourself if there is something else you would rather be doing.  If your answer is “no”, then stick with what you are doing and make the best of it. But if you answered “yes”, why are you not doing what you want to do?  Chances are that you took the first opportunity to study that came your way, or you might have decided to pursue a particular program because it was what your friends were doing. . Possibly, the choice of discipline or major was decided for you by your parents or guardians.

If you find yourself in the latter situation, discuss with your parents or guardians.  If you can convince them to see it your way, make the change as soon as possible. If you cannot, stick with the program, and do your best. There may be other chances for you to switch your career path in the future. In the meantime, look at your situation as an opportunity to learn something new. You can also look at it as a stepping stone towards earning your own money for a career change in the future.

No matter what you study in college or university your future is not guaranteed. Many people end up in jobs that they never expect themselves to be in. The job market is unpredictable. Good opportunities are few and far between.

If you are in a job which you do not particularly like, make the best of it. See it as a learning experience. Do your best and you might learn to like it. Don’t show up at work every day and grumble about how horrible your job is. There is nothing more damaging to work mates – and to yourself – than a staff member who whines about work all the time.  If you have tried your best but still cannot tolerate your current job, leave by all means. You’ll be surprised to know the only way for some people to find their dream job is to quit their current job. There will also be many people who would be happy to take up your job.

You will also find that there are many who fill jobs they are not formally trained to do. I know of an individual with a chemical engineering background who works as a manager in the hospitality industry while another who was trained as a lawyer owns and runs an IT company. Then there is a trained English teacher who started her own dance studio! All three are much happier in their new-found vocations because they are doing something that they enjoy. Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and leave your comfort zone to find that utopia.

On the other hand, some situations could stand in the way between you and pursuing your dream job. An example is world renowned chef Gordon Ramsay who began a career in professional football.  He tried out for Scottish football club Rangers in the 1980s but unfortunately had to leave that career behind because of an injury. Ramsay then studied hotel management and worked for a number of hotels and restaurants before his career as a chef took off. The rest, as they say, is history.

The bottom line is that your career is yours to make. If you did not have the opportunity to train in the field you are passionate about when you were younger, don’t worry. Create the opportunity yourself. Take night or weekend classes if you have to. Most of the time, you will have to make sacrifices to pursue your dreams. These sacrifices are only temporary, and in the end doing something you really enjoy will be well worth it.

Darren John Angking is an associate lecturer with the Faculty of Language and Communication at Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus. He graduated with a degree in Human Resources Development, went on to earn an MBA and is currently pursuing a Masters in TESOL. He is contactable at dangking@swinburne.edu.my