The Career Race. Which Course Should I Take?

Everyone has their own set of dream in their heads, some wants to dress in Tom Ford suits to prove themselves in the legal world, others want to stay behind their apple computers designing. But there are some things in common for most, we want to be that successful person in our heads bringing a positive impact to the world and living everyday with purpose. Now, let’s consider the pursuit of success and happiness in our professional life as a race, and the course we choose to participate in is the career choice we want to go for. An aspiring doctor may strive for the best results to land a spot in Med school and work harder towards the next mile stone of becoming a doctor. On the other hand, a man who inspires to join the army as an officer will take another course in his life to make that happen. When we find the course which we run our fastest and enjoy the most, that is when we taste success and happiness. It is when we are placed in the course that draws out our natural strengths and relentless energy, that is when you are in the course designed for you.  But here comes the million-dollar question, how do I find that course?

As a final year student approaching his graduation I am excited about what is ahead of me but the fears of stepping into my first actual career has accounted for countless of sleepless nights. You see, as I was growing up I was never the bright kid with high potential nor did I participated in many school activities to have records I could be absolutely proud of. Coming from Singapore to a University in Australia was when I decided that I needed to start thinking more seriously about my future. I wanted a chance to go for the jobs that will bring pride to my parents and take on the roles that my peers will admire. Hence, I began on the journey trying to excel in school, taking up leadership positions and trying to do more. Going on the course to race with peers who were trying to land themselves in Goldman Sachs, McKinsey or JP Morgan. I discovered the industry of management consultancy where the brightest kids with endless records on leadership roles and extra-curricular activities join some the greatest minds in the commercial world. However, it soon hit me that my little sprint in two years of university was not enough to participate in this particular race course. As I approach the final semester of my university studies, I am quite happy with my achievements for the past two years but when I compared my CV to my peers I was again disappointed. I had my fair share of hearing how kids in my high school landed up in big firms that most people dream about and admiring how well some of the friends around me were doing. I could remember about 2 months ago after looking at the Linkedin Profiles of several McKinsey candidates, I couldn’t help but walked out to the park outside of school and reflect on how far I am away from these excellent individuals. Then it came, a conversation that changed my perspective of the professional race, a conversation that gave me the keys to unlock doors which drew me closer to finding the course which I should be running in. Let me unfold the three key takeaways from the conversation that graduates, or anyone can use to find their course.

  1. The intangible things that made you love the things you enjoy.

Forget for a second about how well you performed in a particular role or which unit you have done especially well. Dive deeper, look closely at the things you like to do and what intangible attributes of it makes you like it.  Growing up, I love the game of basketball. But what made me like it? It was the camaraderie sprit, the feeling of being in a team and moving together as one. It was the competitive spirit of the game that drove me. Simply, from one of my passions I realized I wanted to be a course where I work closely in teams to achieve our objectives. I want to be in a course where it drives my competitive nature to always wanting to become better.

  • Who were you as a kid?

We are all given gifts, the lucky few found theirs early, put in the hard work and were groomed to become the very best. However, gifts come in many different forms and sometimes they are so easily overlook because we are searching for our gift which belongs to someone else. We get so fixated with the gifts that society is looking for, that we blind side our own gifts at our own will. However, dive deeper to look at who you were and what you liked growing up. It is often how we were as kids that displayed the core of our gifts. Sometimes gifts are not sporting talents, artistic creativity or musical brilliance, it may be the ability to connect with people or the love of command. Find these gifts and choose a course where your gifts have the opportunity shine and where it is a gift to those running alongside you. 

  • Do not try to run someone else’s race. 

We all have peers around us we wish we achieved what they had. There are countless of role models we wish we could become. It is great to have role models and peers to make you want to be better, but it may become a mistake if you want to be just like them. The society and companies have made students try to make themselves into that ‘perfect’ candidate. Don’t get me wrong striving for excellence is great, but striving to become an excellent someone you are not, may not be the best idea. However, our judgements get clouded at times and we choose the course that were never designed for us. We try to make ourselves become the person suited for a role when it was never meant for us. Find your gifts, find your joy and find your course, do not run in someone else’s.

Written by Jia Jun