Best ways to decide on a career option: Dr. Tania Sharma
Dr. Tania Sharma is a licensed Psychologist and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor in the US with specialization in career counseling and assessment.
She talks with Connexio's Deepa Kumar about how students can use different approaches to find out what career choices to make. Dr. Sharma also talks about the crucial things to consider when picking a career and even when changing a career.
Important things to note
What is career decision making?
The capacity of a student to put together good information about good career choices to determine what would be a good fit for them.
What constitutes as good information?
Being self-aware about one’s own strengths and weaknesses. What are the characteristics of a career and what strengths match those characters.
How does the entire process of career decision making start?
It starts with the student asking some simple questions —
Who am I? What do I want to do? Why do I want to pursue a particular career?
Making a list of strengths, weaknesses and values is a good starting point for students
What is an informational interview?
Informational interview is a process of meeting with someone who has been in a particular profession and understanding what a particular profession entails.
How should a student go about doing Informational Interview?
Ask your family and teachers to setup meetings with people in different fields. Go visit these people and ask them what they do at their jobs and what they like and don’t like. Ask questions like - what is it about this particular position that I will find interesting.
What’s a good time to talk to a counselor?
Career counseling is a tool in the career development path. During the career development path, there are multiple opportunities to talk to a career counselors to get help. If you are having issues with the current career or want to change to a different major. You could go to a career counselor for almost anything career related — resume check, strength finding, job readiness etc.
What’s your advice for students?
Be a good researcher and get good data about yourself and about the career that you are interested in. Get help to make the best choices.
Deepa: Hello friends, my name is Deepa. I am the Head of Ops for Connexio and I have Tania with me and she is going to talk about the importance of Career Decision Making for students. Welcome to the session Tania and thank you for joining us.
Tania: Thank you.
Deepa: So before we get started with the discussion, we would like to know a little about your background and experience.
Tania: Hello friends! I am Dr. Tania Sharma. I am a licensed psychologist in the USA. I have a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from USA and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from India. So I have been a student both in India and in the USA and am aware of the challenges international students face with respect to pursue studies and a career abroad. I have provided career counseling to a lot of students to help them clarify their career goals and make good career decisions.
Deepa: What is career decision making?
Tania: Career decision making, simply put, is the capacity of the student to put together good information about themselves and good information about their career choices to determine which career choices will be a good fit. It is always good to have a few backup career choices.
Deepa: Where should a student start, when it comes to career decision making?
Tania: A student needs to start with gathering information about themselves first. Self- awareness is one key aspect of making good career decisions.
Deepa: Why is determining one's interest an important aspect of career decision making?
Tania: Exploring one’s interests is a good starting point in career decision making as it can help you shortlist a range of related majors, jobs and careers that you may be aware of. The next step would be of course to gather information about those majors, jobs and careers to determine which ones may be a good fit for you. Ask yourself: Will I find this job interesting?
Deepa: How does a person know what his or her natural abilities are?
Tania: Becoming aware of one’s abilities is another good starting point for career decision making. You can know your natural abilities based on feedback from your friends, family, teachers, and even your own assessment of the product that you create. For instance, you will know that you are good at public speaking from the compliments you receive from your family, winning prizes in debate competitions at school.
Deepa: How does a student know what skills he should be working on?
Tania: Knowing your interests and abilities and then exploring associated careers can help you learn about the skills required by that career which can become part of your career plan to develop. If want to work as a statistician, you will need to learn, for instance, how to use excel for data analysis.
Deepa: How should I prevent myself from following my friends as it always feels like a safe decision to make?
Tania: It feels safer to follow your friends because it is easier, you are seeking validation or motivated to be a part of the same social group. You and your friend may have similar interests and abilities but the degree of overlap can vary and other factors like values and the kind of work environment you desire may not overlap at all. You are a totally different person than your friend and your career portfolio will be unique.
Deepa: Are there any indications that students can use in general, to know that they are making or are about to make a bad career decision.
Yes, if students feel they are not aware about their strengths/weaknesses or have good information about their career choice. If they feel conflicted in their thoughts about the careers they are choosing, or pressurized by family or friends, those are all good signs.
Deepa: So Tania, before we wind up this session what is the one final thing that you would want to tell students regarding their career decision making.
Tania: Focus on the key aspects of career decision making. Self awareness and the awareness of the field that you are interested in. Be a good researcher and collect good data on the field that you are interested in.
Deepa. This was an insightful session.Thank you for your time and thank you so much for talking to us.
Tania: Thanks for having me. The students can always approach me if they have any questions.