Choosing your perfect career.

The times that we live in are very strange. Careers, a 20th century invention, has become something that goes on to define our lives in this world. If you think about it, most of those “turning points” in our lives today are where we take a turn (even a very slight one) in terms of our careers. Be it the 10th standard or 12th standard board exams, or when you go for a PG or start your first job. So for all of us, there is no denying that choosing a career is one of the most important decisions in our life.

But are we treating this very important process with the seriousness that it deserves. Unfortunately, recent trends seem to suggest otherwise. When even those “high achieving” IIT alumni are unhappy with the careers that they are in and most of the college students in their second and third years are lamenting the choices they have made with their courses, there is indeed something clearly wrong with the way we are choosing our careers now.

To understand where we are getting it wrong, let us just think about how much thought do we put in when we choose our stream after 10th or choose a course after 12th. Now compare this with the amount of research, comparison and the speculation on specifications that goes in before we buy a new mobile phone or computer.

You see, these gadgets are going to be there with us for just 3 or 4 years, but we are going to spend around 70% of our adult life in our careers. I think this comparison is clearly enough to help us appreciate how we are trivialising these very important decisions!

It is very sad when someone who loves to study history chooses a science stream in plus one just because some relative or friend said that there is no scope for humanities. Equally deplorable is a situation where someone who has all the skills to become a great software engineer goes for a hotel management course just because 2 or 3 of his friends chose that.

How can we be so haphazard with a decision that can very well decide how our remaining lives are going to be? How can we take such an important decision just on the basis of a general advice that a so called “career counsellor” had given during one of their classes? You see, the first thing we need to understand is that each person including me and you is unique and your career decisions need to be made through a personalised process that can take this uniqueness into full account.

And such a process should be able to scientifically combine all the relevant factors that need to be considered before suggesting you a particular career field or course. The need for such a scientifically valid career counselling process becomes much more significant considering the fact the future workplace is going to be ultra competitive and only the prudent and future ready would be able to survive it.

So, through this article, we would like to present to you how LCAT, one of India’s best career counselling mechanisms quite effectively combines the various factors that are relevant while planning your career and then helps you make the perfect decision with your career. But before we get on to that, let us discuss another important question.

When is the right time to start your career planning?

As the age old saying goes, the sooner the better. You see, if we are able to identify our strengths, weaknesses and the areas that would really fit us and where we would be able to excel, it is always better to do it as early as possible. But you know, there are some factors that would not have completely settled when we are too young. According to a lot of research studies conducted around the world, 13 to 14 years has been suggested as an ideal time to start your career planning.

So, in the Indian context, it roughly translates to 8th or 9th standard. And considering the structure of the Indian education system, we would recommend that you go through a proper career counselling/development system between 8th and 12th standard. And do note that it is essential to do it before you complete your 12th and join an undergraduate course.

But what about those who were unaware of the importance of this and were not able to go through such a system before their 12th? Say, you are a 3rd year degree student doing a 4 year undergraduate course. And you have understood that the field that you have chosen is not your true calling and then finds out that data analytics and business is what would really suit you. Then, what do you do? Is that the end of the road and will you have to stick with the field that you have wrongly chosen and keep on regretting the proper choices you couldn’t make at the right time?

Nay! You see, we have always been so skeptical of how highly interdisciplinary and ultra competitive the future workplace is going to be and how we should prepare for that. But that cloud does come with a silver lining! These careers which are becoming more and more interdisciplinary gives you an increasing level of opportunities to make a career switch without losing the advantage of whatever you have studied until now.

So, in the case that we were discussing, even though it would have been much better if that person had found out his potential in the field of data analytics and business before he/she finished their 12th itself, they still have opportunities to return back to their true calling. Take for example the highly regarded PG diploma in business analytics jointly conducted IIT Kharagpur, IIM Calcutta and the Indian Statistical Institute.

So, this good friend of ours who have been wise enough to use a proper career development mechanism, although a tad bit late, still has the option to join this course after they finish their degree and then build a career that would make their lives fulfilling and much more fruitful.

Now, let me try to summarise what we have just discussed. It is always the best to make use of a proper and scientifically reliable career planning mechanism before you finish your 12th standard so that you are able to begin your journey towards building a career in a field that is best fit for you without wasting any time by doing courses that may not be suitable for you.

But for those who were not able to do this, they still have a chance but for them there is no more time to go lax. They should make use of such a mechanism as early as possible and at least before they finish their degree and are forced to start a “dreadful” job.

Having discussed in detail on when to start your career planning, we will get back to our earlier discussion.

How LCAT helps you discover your perfect career?

You see, what makes LCAT India’s best career development mechanism is the fact that it adeptly combines all the important factors like your psychometric traits (like your personality, interests, aptitudes, and work value preferences), other personal traits (like your financial background, talents in specific fields, achievements to date, past academic performance) and external factors (like your parent’s expectations, the changing job market, futuristic skills required) before helping you make a decision about your career.

LCAT Assessment

LCAT’s online psychometric assessment, which is the first step in the mechanism, is a 2-3 hours long online test that assesses multiple dimensions of a person’s psychometric profile like their interests, personality, aptitudes and work value preferences. The exact number of dimensions assessed depends on their relevance and validity based on the category of the test taker. For example, in the case of class 8 and 9 students, work value preferences are not assessed and for college students and graduates, there is another factor (i.e. emotional intelligence) which is also considered.

On completion of the test, a detailed 50+ pages report is generated which explains in detail the candidates scores in each of the psychometric dimension assessed and the LCAT algorithm suggests them the 5 career fields (2 stream choices in the case of class 8 and 9 students) that would be the best fit for them based on their psychometric profile.

For each of the psychometric subtrait assessed (there are 10 sub traits for personality, 6 for aptitudes and 6 for work value preferences), the report provides an easy to understand definition of what the subtrait means, a critical analysis based on your score and it also suggests specific improvement strategies that you can adopt.

And for each of the five career fields suggested, you get a detailed introduction and the kind of opportunities available with that career and also a graphical representation of how much your psychometric dimensions match with the requirements of that specific career field. The information on the career fields is supplemented through concise mindmaps.

Let me take you through a short tour of the different psychometric dimensions assessed in the test and how the results are presented to you in the report.

Interests

Your interests across 20 well defined areas or fields is assessed and is presented to you through a very easy to understand graphical representation.

Aptitudes

LCAT assesses 6 aptitudes - Numerical Aptitude, Verbal Aptitude, Abstract Reasoning, Perceptual Aptitude, Spatial Aptitude and Mechanical Reasoning.

Personality

LCAT assesses 10 personality traits - Self Control, Stress Tolerance, Politeness, Compassion, Industriousness, Orderliness, Enthusiasm, Intellect, Assertiveness, and Openness.

Work Value Preferences

LCAT assesses 6 work value preferences - Achievement, Independence, Recognition, Relationships, Support, and Working Conditions.

5 best fit career fields

The report also contains detailed information about the 5 career fields that are the best fit for you based on your psychometric profile.

LCAT Post-assessment Counselling Mechanism

Once the assessment is completed, before starting the counselling, other relevant information that is very important in the career decision making process of an individual is collected through the LCAT’s post-assessment counselling mechanism.

After the forms are completed, a counselling session (which happens over video conferencing) with our career expert. The counselling session in which the parents can also participate usually lasts for an hour. During the session our counsellor converses in detail with the test candidate and their parents, helping them clear all their doubts and also collecting more information that would be important before helping them reach a final career decision. Combining the information earlier collected with the insights from the counselling session, our career expert prepares a comprehensive action plan on what the LCAT candidate can do in the next 2-3 years.

LCAT Action Plan

At the end of the counselling session, a detailed action plan is prepared by our career expert. It is very comprehensive and holistically covers multiple areas like career planning, academic success and also personal development. I will conclude by giving you a brief description of what the LCAT action plan for a class 10/11/12 student would contain.

Academic Success

This section contains two subsections - “Development Plans - Aptitudes” and “Love to Learn”.

Career Planning

This section contains four subsections - “Courses/Career Paths to Explore”, “Institutes/Admission Procedure”, “Resources to make use of” and “Future Skills”.

Personal and Social Development

This section contains two subsections - “Development Plan - Personality” and “Extra-academic Activities to Focus”.

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