Breaking the Mould
By Arijit Banerjee
Workplaces are not the same anymore - flat hierarchy, creative freedom, and a sense of collaboration, as well as ownership, have taken over the structured and often constraining attributes that defined them about a decade ago.
Today, employees are more conscious about choosing their job profiles and are boldly expressing their preferences for the role they want to play. Companies too are paying more attention to their emotional needs and focusing on creating a happy work environment—by making an honest attempt to pave the right career path for them. A reinstated sense of satisfaction is associated with an employee’s career choice in the modern-day workplace. In a way, the stage is set for all professionals to start loving their jobs again.
Airing the passion again
Certain trends are picking up in the Indian corporate community. Professionals are not afraid anymore of walking away from their long- established career paths to follow their passion. Those who stick to their jobs are making efforts to define their professional future and shaping it accordingly. Professionals have realised that it is not the sole duty of the company anymore to define their career path.
The startup spree
As per a survey by Randstad, a company that monitors workforce trends around the globe, 28% Indians are willing to quit their jobs and start a venture on their own. The trend has clearly been seen in young professionals who enjoy working for themselves—be it as a freelancer, or a startup owner.
Advantages like flexibility and the scope to experiment in the initial stage of their professional journey encourage young professionals to pursue their passion. This risk-taking spirit and ambition is the reason why India continues to lead as one of the largest startup economies next only to the US and the UK.
‘Do what you love and love what you do’ may sound like a cliché to many. However, finding your passion is one of the most important elements in finding your dream career and several professionals are realising it today.
There is a new experimental professional in every office who believes that you should try every possible route to find your true passion. It is a good idea to delve into the search aspect - to better understand your own making and determine what drives you. Always be on the lookout for new technologies, trending skills, and unique courses that can help you carve a career of your choice.
Career assessment tests, workshops, self- actualisation seminars, or even an art of living programme like Vipassana can enable you to connect with your own self—to help you find your true calling. Seminars like these may actually work as a great way to network professionally as well.
Taking matters into your own hands - career path under construction
How you define your career path depends on your career phase. However, it is not a limiting factor, as there are many who find their passion and succeed at a later stage in their career.
So regardless of your career stage, you can always make a new start by defining your aspirations, which can be both short-term and long-term. Once you have outlined these, analyse the tools and skills required to reach those goals. It could be an online upskilling programme, vocational course, a degree, or even mentoring by your boss.
Your professional life is likely to go through three stages. In the early stage (0-8 years), you tend to focus on learning the fundamentals and have greater flexibility to experiment. This is the time when you can try out different technologies, roles, and even consider entrepreneurship to take forward something you love to do.
Take examples from the real world and you should be able to instantly recall the story of two ambitious role models who left the comfort of their corporate jobs to pursue their dreams. They did the unthinkable by calling it quits and started their own online bookselling portal, which we know as Flipkart today. Both Sachin and Binny Bansal worked for Amazon before taking a shot at their passion. Today, it is a prized possession of Walmart.
In 1998, Pony Ma and four of his friends started a free instant messaging service in a hole-in-the-wall startup. It gave us the sensational WeChat app. Today, the company has become an internet giant in China and is listed on Hong Kong Stock Exchange as Tencent.
For the common man, giving up a decent- paying, secure job is fraught with risks and while many want to, very few actually take the plunge. If you are in a similar situation, utilise the weekends and holidays to work with young startups (try the angel networks to get connected to them or your own college alumni network). While you may not be paid, the experience will lead you on your path to self-discovery.
Turning ideas into path-breaking career moves—micro ideas to macro business
It is believed that only a small percentage of startups taste success. Those who do attain success have a pattern that is consistent. They are driven by innovative thinking and often come up with a rather simple yet, game-changing idea in the most ordinary settings. Most of the times, it is a simple solution to fundamental problems like booking a cab, or comparing hotel rates on your phone.
Armed with these micro ideas that may look too simple to even try, companies like Uber, BookMyShow, and Practo to name a few, have become macro achievers in the corporate world.
In the second stage (with 9-20 years of experience), many mid-level employees may not find their roles challenging or motivating enough. In such a situation, their career may start to drift with the tide.At this point, there are several factors to consider before taking any career-related decision. Financial and personal obligations can push your passion to the back seat. However, the professional spark can be rekindled again.
Organisations are happy to challenge their workforce with productivity targets, but employees must make it their personal endeavour to enhance their skills and knowledge, and undertake upskilling initiatives frequently.
Identify your goals and list the upskilling requirements, which can help you reach your target. It is a good idea to involve your manager and company in your upskilling agenda.
In the technologically advanced era, upgrading knowledge by participating in seminars, hackathons, short upskilling programs, and learning online platforms is the best way to navigate through career choices with confidence.
Often, by learning a new technology, you also find exciting, new challenges in the work assigned to you, and get motivated to give it the best shot.
Motivation, the elixir to a satisfying career
The final stage (with 20-plus years of experience) comes after two to three decades of starting one’s career. This is also the time, having gained wisdom, corporates often give back to academia.
So, does it mean experienced professional do not require upskilling? Certainly not. Employees can define their career path at this stage too. Doing a Ph.D., associating with research organisations to spearhead new innovation, imparting practical industry knowledge by joining the academia, or simply staying in tune with the times by keeping pace with contemporary technology are some ways to keep the career graph pointing in the desired direction.
Be the captain of your career path
Lastly, at every phase of your career, it is vital to have a strong network of like-minded professionals. Networking is a key element in forging a robust career path. There will be people who will need your talent and skills to help their dreams take form. At other times, you will need people to team up with and breathe life into your dream. Networking gives professionals the power to choose what is best for them.
Before signing off, here is something to encourage you to start walking on your career path mindfully—“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
This article written by A P Ramabhadran was originally published in Indian Management Magazine.