A lot has been said in recent times highlighting the need to carve out a career out of one’s passions and to follow one’s dreams. One hears such words from successful people as to how their passions eventually led them to success by following an unconventional path.
In contrast, as a graduate engineer in 2012, I found it difficult to find a job, apart from the fact that there was deep recession; I knew there was something lacking in my skills as an engineer as well. I was puzzled back then but I can understand now that the problem was that I had graduated studying something that did not back my skills and interests. Now, as a higher education expert and a trainer, I can relate to this concept as one of “work specialization” achieved by following one’s passions. This concept holds the key to the economic progress for most of today’s developed economies.
With hindsight, I have been trying to evaluate my journey and hypothesized that there existed a problem for confused teenagers or youngsters back in my time and to my surprise, the problem still persists. To confirm this, I asked a few of my M.B.A aspirant students who wanted to become management consultants as to whether they knew what skills were required to work as a Management Consultant or if they had ever seen a management consultant’s CV to the very least. Almost everyone had no clue, the dream of a fat pay check and the fact that some of their peers were earning well was good enough for them to do an M.B.A. I also checked some stats which probably are a result of a similar pattern of students blinded by the fear of failure and the lure of success. Most employers in India don’t consider a major portion of engineers to be employable. I specifically referred to engineers because being one, I could relate to the stats. But my interactions with friends and colleagues paint the same picture for other professions too. I take the liberty of calling this probable journey one of a confused and fearful student becoming a misplaced professional. Yet I would still consider those M.B.A aspirants to be the lucky ones, whether right or wrong, they have at-least made up their mind and have the resources to actually attempt pursuing a M.B.A.
I am left imagining how many of the kids out there are there just like me who don’t even know what they want to do and have no resources to find out. For those students, “following one’s dreams” is a shallow and scary statement. One that they cannot back with sound reasoning or self-evaluation and which if they follow can lead to failure, something which most students and more importantly their parents cannot risk.
Hypothetically, if I would have pitched the “Follow your dreams” notion to the 16-year-old me, I would’ve definitely thought if not said it aloud that I don’t know anything about my dreams or what I want to do. How then am I supposed to follow my dream or plan for a journey or a destination I know nothing about? Neither I, nor my parents were equipped to evaluate my interests and skills and co-relate it to a profession that would’ve been ideal for me. I did not have the resources to make a sound judgment by analyzing what I could study, where I could do that and what resources and skills are required to be a sound professional.
For most teenagers, their dreams are slaves to compulsions, whether from family, peers, friends or society at large. The biggest source of these compulsions is the fear of failure and the need to be successful. Faced by the same, I too ended up taking the same journey of a confused and fearful student to a misplaced professional.
Having identified a problem, in the next blog, I would share my experience of travelling across several countries in Europe to find out what is the difference between a confused student and the ones that end up saying “follow your dreams.”
Do tell me about your experience in the comment section below.