In a typical career context, the 2 critical junctures in K12 for making a decision are a) which stream to choose after 10th grade & b) which is the field of study/ major should one pursue? We are more informed decision makers today but with so many career options, it may make sense evaluate them from a wider perspective beyond academics.
While India (& South Asia) continues to be a story of too many aspirants chase too few seats, what remains unchanged is only winning in a rat race still makes us remain a rat. It may make sense if you also focus on what’s beyond school and college curriculum. Academics can at best open the door. When we move in to a job, runways are short, learning is post reflection of our experience, iterative & reiterative and well, we are on our own.
Our career growth will depend, among other things, on our problem solving ability (many a times, a problem which doesn’t have a precedence”), decision making when information is imcomplete and the outcome uncertain with huge trade-offs, focused execution skills, our ability to carry on a conversation, ability to think logically and communicate it precisely, how good we can collaborate, how self-driven are we, can we resolve conflicts, aligning a team towards the goal, our networking skills…… Welcome to the VUCAD world.
In an average life span, conventionally one will spend ~ 80,000 hrs working. The billion dollar point of consideration is we cannot live those 80,000 hrs without doing something we are interested in or we like doing. A recent report showed 69% of the respondents admitting they would reconsider their career decisions. The other way of looking at it is to ask “ would I like to do something for a substantial time in my life, which I don’t like”? It’s an imperative to be clear about what you don’t want to do.
Coming to specifics, let’s talk about the digital of things. When questioned what’s the future of digital, I politely nod “ the future is digital”. It’s a common saying that not knowing coding is the latest definition of illiteracy in the 21st century. Think about the journey, when we stopped remembering and start googling & our 1st port of call to buy something is Amazon. Think how Netflix evaluated from video renting to an OTT behemoth, how Apple came back from the brink of oblivion to charm the globe with a series of I-devices. Data has become mainstream now as personalization, convenience and access are becoming hygiene. What was called emerging skills early last year are becoming mainstream skills in deep learning & AI . Remember, a basic training in coding can open avenues long and wide. If science and tech scares you, remember that your ability to think logically, ability to identify the problem you want to solve are paramount. Coding is a means towards the end and not the end. The end is the problem you solved or the innovation you accomplished thru coding. A couple of summers back, IBM commented they don’t have any problem hiring someone who has the right skills and a University degree may not be necessary.
Consider learning UI/UX and make a career in product management, if you wish. A rare point of agreement between Steve Jobs and Larry Page was “ In the end, it’s the product and how you experience it”. User acquisition and retention, two primary digital metrics rely significantly on how much the brand managed to own the experience for the customer, over its competitors.
Consider learning any or more of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Adwords, Referral & affiliate marketing, SMM (Social Media Marketing). Marketing spends have moved to enhance how one’s brand gets discovered online, how many users fill up the form, how many sign up finally, how many are returning users, how many a brand manages to retain, how unique visitors, Pageviews and stickiness improve…so on and so forth.
It’s an exciting world of careers out there. Stay tuned!
The Author is a Business leader with a deep passion for technology, education and people, Dipanjan accomplished an Executive Management program from INSEAD, also holding a Master degree in Economics and an MBA. StartupIndia hub mentor, Industry speaker & a guest lecturer in B’schools, he leads the Edtech practice in Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd in the broadcast and digital space
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