Robert Frost once wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I chose the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Truth be told, majority of us are not comfortable doing that. We would rather follow ‘the trend’, ride the bandwagon, take the road much travelled than follow our heart.
In my career of 29 years I have interviewed hundreds of candidates for various positions, with experience ranging from freshers to 20+ years of work experience. I always make it a point to ask the experienced ones this particular question “If you could go back in time and start all over again, would you still choose the career you are currently in?” It is not a surprise that majority of these people answer ‘No’ and say that they would rather be doing something else.
When I ask them why then are they in this profession, the answers are more or less similar. Some just followed what their friends chose as they were unsure/confused themselves, some fell for peer pressure, some bowed to family pressure and some just wanted their family to get off their back. Also in the years when these people graduated, I am talking 10 – 15 years ago, there weren’t many choices and unfortunately, when choosing a career, most students then weren’t exposed to “the road less traveled”. They were forced to choose the only one they knew and it is natural to make decisions based on options that have become familiar.
Surprisingly, most college students even today choose a career field based on a handful of options that have become familiar to them. When asked why they chose their major, the answers that most students give sound something like this: “I chose accounting because my father is an accountant, and it seemed pretty neat. ” Or, “Everyone is getting into management these days. That’s the way to go.”
I am sure you would have been quoted the success stories of Dhirubhai Ambani, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs , Marc Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) and the likes in various forums. Just pause here for a moment to consider what’s common amongst them all. Are they all geniuses with IQ score that went through the roof? – No, are they all MIT graduates or PhDs in their field? – No, were they all billionaires and had the financial muscle to pull off what they started?- No… The primary and the foremost reason for their success is that they were ‘passionate’ about what they did. Their passion has been their driving force that made them reach the dizzying heights they have.
Are you passionate about the course/elective/major you have chosen? Does it keep you awake at night, drives you to learn more and more, pushes you to your limits and makes you want to reach for the sky, makes it seem fun and effortless even when putting in loads of hardwork? If not, do yourself a favour… go out there and explore the options, see what lights the fire inside you and choose that as your career while you still have the time. It is possible you might lose a year or two of your current life but it is better than living the rest of your life with dissatisfaction, frustration doing something you are not passionate about and being satisfied with mediocrity instead of the glory that you dream of.
I would strongly advise you to take you internships very seriously. It is an opportunity where you can actually ‘test drive’ your chosen career and see if this is really what you always wanted. Do not hesitate to request an appointment with the HoD at the organization you are associating with. Ask a ton of questions about the future, what does real life work involve, the expected behaviours and attitudes, the roadblocks and challenges. Get to know everything you can and see if it makes you jump with excitement about your future or bursts your bubble.
I am sure your college will assist you all the way in helping you choose the right career for you. Work with the counsellors to identify your passion and aptitude, analyse and test drive the finding and then take the leap. I am sure that your parents and family will understand too. After all what you are doing now is for your future and it really makes no sense if what you are doing now does not lead you to the future you have imagined for yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with following in your father’s footsteps or the status quo. However, there are more than 20,000 existing occupations today, making it very likely that there’s an unknown career out there about which you could become even more passionate. You have the distinct advantage of being born in an era of information revolution. Even your phones are ‘Smart’ these days. Get off Whatsapp and Facebook for a while to explore the wide array of career options available today that align with your aptitude and basic nature. I assure you it’s the surefire way to success and the future you have imagined. You can never go wrong with it.
Our life is all about the choices we make, so make the right choice, follow your passion not others and have the courage to take the road less travelled.