I am sure all of you remember the answers you gave, when your teacher ask about your ambition. Answers like doctors, lawyers, policeman, engineers….(bloggers, youtubers for the younger generations) echoed around the classroom.
In my years of working under a company, and striking out on my own under the tutelage of God, I realize that it was not so much about the courses you took for your tertiary education. I have friends who have degrees whom happen to struggle to pay for the down payment of their first house, despite entering their 40s. And I have buddies who failed in their formal education, and ended up becoming big bosses in industries like construction, logistic and online business.
20 years of my own experience in my career development, and my interaction with people and to my discovery of God in my life, enable me to come out with a list of guidelines of how you should plan your career in the 21st century:
1. If you plan to start your own business one day, choose a major that supports that. There are a few considerations here and every individual should make a choice based on their very own conditions like your family wealth, your personality etc. Let us assume you choose a major in chemical engineering, unless your daddy is a billionaire, I doubt you could set up a rig to drill for gas in the middle of South China Sea as your first startup. Your choice is limited to climbing the corporate ladder in companies like Shell, BP etc.
However, if you choose a major in Computer Science or Music, your options will be wider if you plan to strike out one day. A Bachelor Degree in Computer Science initiates an economy to do freelance in programming, coding and subsequently, your own I.T related company. If you have a Music Major, you could teach, or try your hand in composing and who knows, the royalties that you might earn if your audience love your work.
If you did not get the major that you aspire, always remember, this is never the end. A college degree is just a ticket to open up your first door or your second door.
2. After getting your college degree, unless you have a solid business plan or you are the heir of an ongoing business, don’t be rash. At the moment, forget about joining those low entry requirement businesses like multi level marketing or insurance. Even individuals with much lower qualifications could join these industry. In You don’t need to jump immediately into the deep bloody sea when you got your degree or diploma scroll. Just because you are dying to become an entrepreneur, stop short of joining any direct marketing business full time. You could always do them part time later.
3. Think long after you graduate. Think of the coming AI that could take over all those repetitive job in the future. At this moment of thought, I would advise you against choosing any menial or repetitive jobs, like cab driver, production assembly, tele-marketeers, and all receptionist jobs. Apparently, the following careers might also be at risk; law, medical diagnoses, financial analyst, chef, construction among others. However, in spite of all the gloomy outlook, I would advise you not to drop the whole list. Follow you passion. Stay up to date with the latest development in artificial intelligence, then make your choice.
4. During the initial years, you need not have to stay too long with the same employer. Move on if you feel that the company does not provide sufficient training for your professional development. However, sometimes if you are fortunate enough, you might come across a company that believes in providing good training. Here lies the downside though, because you might just be too happy and refuse to leave even when other opportunities come knocking.
5. Always move up when you change job. This sound so simple and yet, people do not do it. Sales representative moved on to the next position with the same title with a fraction of salary increase is very common in the employment market. For us, it is common sense to at least move on to become a Supervisor or an Assistant Manager if given the opportunity. The reason for the “inertia” of refusing to move up could be the fear of the unknown or even laziness. The fact is, if you don’t grow your muscle, the market will force you out of the game in uncomfortable ways like forced early retirement, lay off and other similar predicaments.
Here is an example of how this works using me as the case study. In God’s will, I started my career as a Manufacturing Supervisor in a confectionery factory in 1996. The managing director promoted me into a new position a year later to oversee the purchasing department and warehousing due to a major human resource maneuvering. After 3 years with the company, I moved on to do sales with a major MNC in the food commodity trade at the Northern side of the country. All that I need to know about sales, I learnt it in 8 years with this MNC. With an MBA in my credential, a bakery recruited me to be their business manager to oversee the business development of the entity. They promoted me into the position of General Manager in 5 years after we expanded the business nationwide. After 7 years with the bakery, a head hunter recruited me as a General Manager of a commercial bakery ten times the revenue of the former. Talking about growth! In God’s Grace, I am now running my own trading company in His full blessing and armed with the knowledge of running a profitable business. Hallelujah!
6. Be discipline in your spending and save as much as you can. Sometimes, it is the nature of the person whether he is thrifty or a spendthrift. The amount of money you could hoard will determine the level of independence you have against your employer. I’m not asking you to be a cheapo and to refuse all kinds of entertainment or networking opportunity when you come out to work. If you are a guy, you definitely need to spend when you find a date. But, always sow when you are on the go, so that you can always hold your head high in whatever circumstances that awaits.
7. Continue to read and learn. Go into deep learning mode on what you are doing. Learn up on things that are outside of your job scope during leisure. Take up online courses from providers like Coursera. One fine day, all these knowledge you have gained will intertwine together. When a new horizon approach, hopefully you will be armed adequately with the knowledge to tap into opportunities that arise from it.