How people choose ‘career paths’

21 Feb comments

An Indian Student

Let me tell you a short story. At the end of it you will get to read a very old, but still as good as new article from Stanford University News Service.


A child got funded for a trip to her choice of destination and she had the opportunity to live the rest of her life over there. She was young and had little knowledge about the outside world, so did not know where to go.


It was her parent’s dream to go to Mount Everest. Her neighbour has been to Ooty and she suggested that it’s a safe place to live. To her parents and neighbour, Ooty Hill Station was the closest comparison to Mount Everest. Even though the comparison does not make much sense, it happens all the time!


Anyway, the child was more into swimming, water bodies, beaches and places like Goa. She did not know the importance of choosing a right destination at that time and with the little knowledge about such places she couldn’t convince her parents to let her go to Goa. Moreover, her uncle (the villain) who knew about her interest in swimming said Mount Everest is safe as there is no water, and so she can’t swim and get into any danger.


Finally, she was forced to listen to her parents and move to Mount Everest. So they went shopping, got required gears for mountain climbing and winter clothing and she was all set to go. Even though the journey was tough and long, being a smart child she made it to the valley. But she did not possess the required skill set to climb the mountain, all she had was some gears and clothing, but she knew swimming, which was not relevant.


Again being a smart child she learnt how to climb overtime and reached to a certain height and finally she had to settle down there for the rest of her life, realising she does not have the energy to climb anymore and she hated being in the extreme cold.


Did she fail in her life?

I don’t think she failed; she taught herself to climb and reached to a certain point. But was she happy? I don’t think she will say YES.


Lack of interest, required skill set for mountain climbing and extreme cold made her to give up halfway and became unhappy. In reality many in her situation would have given up in the valley itself and got settled there.
How else this story could have turned up if…..


  • she realised the importance and would have searched enough about a place where she wanted to go and convinced her parents? Some parents may not listen, but she could have tried again with more relevant data. Trust me; many parents force their children to do something when they see that their children don’t have any clear goals with supporting actions.


  • she knew from where to collect relevant and quality information in her interested field?


  • her parents realised her interest in beaches and looked for information on such a place rather than asking her to fulfil their dream of Mount Everest?


  • the comparison was not made by the neighbour which didn’t make much sense?


  • the store keeper gave her an overview on mountain climbing?


The possibilities are endless and let’s not get into all those, hope you got the point. She may have finally enjoyed mountain climbing and spend the rest of her life happily, or maybe she would have found some place to swim there, or maybe she would have moved to Goa…


Many of you may not agree with few story endings and let’s not get carried away with the details of the story; it’s just for the purpose of giving you an idea. Here this child represents most of our young generation, also known as Millennials/Generation Y. Mount Everest and Goa represents different careers. Shopping and tough journey represents a Degree and Shopkeeper represents teachers.


“Millennials are willing to try new things, challenge processes, and think differently about a situation” – Lisa Evans, Fast Company. That is how we make a difference in the world, so why deny their freedom of choice?


Success is the quality of life one is having, not the amount of money one is making.

So now do you think pursuing a career which your parent/society think is best for you, is worth pursuing? And let’s ask ourselves why it might have worked all these years? It’s because our expectations were less, low cost of living, less competition and we were okay settling down with what we had. Now it’s not the case. World is getting advanced every single minute and something that worked in the past may not work in the present or future. We built great machines before, and now we are trying to rebuild it to reduce the pollution. Fresh air stations have been set up in China. In the past getting settled in the valley would have worked, but now it’s heavily ‘crowded’ in there.

The Boiling Frog Theory is worth a read. As per one of the possibilities, the child may eventually enjoy mountain climbing, but do you think that is a risk worth taking? Also the child should realise the skills s/he acquired and should know how to make it useful.


If she would have gone to a beach and mastered the skill of swimming instead of mountain climbing, maybe she would have reached at a better position in her life. Even that’s a ‘may be’, but at least it was her own choice and it will make her to work smart to achieve her goals. Whose fault is that she ended up unhappy at Mount Everest?


Parent’s? Neighbour’s/Society’s/Uncle’s? Her own fault? Was Clothing/Gear faulty? Or is it the shopkeeper’s? I think everyone played a role here.


Our Education system may not value it, if we learn something out of our syllabus. It does not mean we should learn only from the book. The child can’t blame her parents or society completely; she could have said NO when she was sent to Everest. Our political parties/government may be competing against each other to make a record of high pass percentage, but not focused on quality education (Kerala SSLC pass percentage of 2015 – 97.99%). As these dreams as staged as usual, it does not stop a child learning from reliable sources.


There are plenty of online quality resources like quora, udemy, coursera, edX, lynda, etc and many of them give free access to information.



It’s a habit everyone must develop, no matter what genre the book/blog is. Reading will help to have a new perspective on everything around you; it can change your life.




English may not be our first language, but it’s the language of the 21st Century and hence it’s important, it’s a life skill.


Some parents force careers on their kids what they were unable to become. And many young people destroy their life in the name of satisfying their parents. Parents are not doing it purposefully, but that is the ugly truth. I am not telling go rebel against them. Parents will listen to you if you have a clear goal and if you let parents know about it. It’s the older generation’s duty to arrange relevant information for Millennials and it’s the child’s responsibility to search and find them.

“Children must be taught how to thinknot what to think.” – Margaret Mead.


The reason why most people (I said most, not everyone), love to get government job is because of its job security. Their job is not threatened even if they are not doing their job and they never try to develop themselves. That is exactly why it’s not easy to get something done from a government office. But in private sector if somebody is not doing their job they will get fired. I am not telling private companies should take advantage of this and threaten their employees. Private firms should develop the team and keep them.

Continuous learning and development is very crucial for a better and happy life.


Once you find out what a ‘Game Designer/Mountain Climber’ actually does or discover all of the different ways in which you can be one, you may find it easier to imagine yourself into that role and develop required skill set.


Build your career based on evidence, not false beliefs.

All these findings are my views from the research I conducted during the year of 2015 in relation to the development of a web application called Its mission is to help students in visualizing and understanding careers so that they can make informed decisions before starting their journey and also during their journey to Mount Everest or Goa.


We don’t need any more doctors who hate that profession to treat us.

We don’t need any more teachers who took that profession just because they could not find another job, to teach our children.


Imagine a life where you get to work on things you are passionate about and where you can use your skills, develop them and be happy! Yes, you can have such a life if you make some careful decisions. Most of the times we hear that “follow your passion/dream” and then you will be happy. Do you think it’s true?


Follow your passion is not the end, but there is more to it. You need to make sure that when you turn your passion into a career you will still hold on to the same level of passion and also need to make sure that others care about it and they will pay for it. Then comes the skill part, you need to develop your skills and become so good that others cannot ignore you (Cal Newport).


Thus you will get recognised and appreciated and you can have a happy life. And you know its okay to decide to change your path half way through, even if you have decided to go to Goa in the first place.

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google wanted to become a cricketer when he was young and look where he is now. Who would have thought Steve Jobs will rule the world with ‘Apple’ one day, when he was young? As he said, “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

You could become someone you may not have even considered before.


Let me conclude with five lessons from Daniel’s life journey, who worked 50 jobs in 50 weeks.

  1. Be a People Person
  2. Learn to Deal with Rejection
  3. Take Risks to Find Work
  4. Confidence is Key
  5. Ask for Help and Share Your Ideas


‘Why do you want to do anything you do? The answer to this question must define you. Happiness comes from within yourself, not from money or fame. Be true to yourself‘- Cameron Diaz.


I would love to hear your feedback; I do really, either positive or negative. It will help me to make necessary fine tuning on our mission. If you have a story worth sharing to our youth, get in touch with us, [email protected]

And here is the article I promised, How people choose ‘career paths’ from Stanford University News Service.


Bonus : How to Make a Career Choice When You Are Undecided



*theinterviewportal – they aggregate and curate all interviews from the web, however they DO NOT certify the authenticity of the information provided in the interviews.

student after 12th reading book choose career