Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So What Do You Want For A Career?

This is the time of the year when a few hundred thousand students will begin to ponder about their future. For 500 000 SPM holders, it's either to enter the job market which a sizeable does, or to continue their studies. For the latter, there're many paths - Foundation, SAM, STPM, Matriculation, A-Levels, Diploma, ADTP and countless other avenues. These days as long as you have the money and meet the requirements, you'll get to continue your studies.

My own boy is in the latter group... the ones at the threshold of university studies. And picking his career path has been difficult, mainly because he has choices. Plus like most young people his age, they don't really know what they want. This is something which I feel is a failure of our education system. Kids don't get a feel of different jobs. They're detached from the real job world cos their education is very academic.

In Malaysia, many parents whose kids get good results will push for their children to do medicine. Can't blame them because many attach prestige and a stable income to the job. A great number of our best and brightest end up here. But the proliferation of medical schools because it's such a lucrative business has seen the number of medical schools ballooning to 36, at last count. And if this writer is to be believed, it looks like we're facing several problems which might jeopardize the career path of aspiring doctors.

In the early 80s, because of a severe economic downturn, engineering graduates were known to drive taxis or sell char-kway-teow to tie over the hard times. Back then, engineering lost its lustre somehow. Who is to anticipate that engineers are much sought after today. Or that computer related graduates would be in great demand too. Computer Science for example were mainly taken by those who could not qualify for the more 'prestigious' courses back then. But today, many of those who studied Computer Science are doing very well. None of us would have imagined today's world as being so integrated by computers? The study of science involves new terms coined in the last decade or so such as nano technology, biomedical sciences, material science, etc, etc... and it's still evolving. Psychology graduates are more in demand today too...

For our boy, he's more fortunate than us. Prudent planning on our part means private education is possible for him. That means more options for him, and that he 'escapes' the quota system. Having so many of our friends in various fields also means that we roughly know what different career paths entail. But still, choosing is tough and he is still yo-yoing in choosing, like many of his friends. I did not have such luxury because my parents could afford anything beyond public universities. I had to take whatever that was offered by the UPU. But still, I was lucky to get into a public uni, though when I got there, I realised there was a big difference in terms of entry requirements for the Bumi and non-Bumi. It was at university that I had my first hand experience of preferential treatment for the Bumi(s) at work. The difference in points with some of my coursemates was something like 20 points or 2 grades lower for each of the 5 subjects I took in STPM. And of course, Like many of my friends, I felt cheated. And our parents had to work very hard to put us through those years. Today, nothing much as changed. Rather sad that there hasn't been much progress cos the group that has been and is still being helped still seems mired in mediocrity generally. Our leaders prefer to be leaders for those who need crutches....

Anyway, I've been doing so much reading about different career pathways recently. In a couple of years, I would probably be doing the same again when my girl's turn comes. I wonder too whether there would be any meaningful changes in the admission system. Only time will tell...
As for career choice, I think one must like what one does. Practical reasons such as prospects, aptitude for the course also must take precedence but it's always a double bonus to have a passion for one's vocation. To be stuck doing something that feels like a chore, while might be bearable because most of us are adaptble, can sometimes prevent us from maximizing our potentials too.

1 comment:

PreciousPearl said...

good luck to your boy, I hope he picks something he's interested in and can make a good living at :)