The very first profession (Barring the childhood fantasies of becoming a superhero or flying jets) I was genuinely interested in or inclined towards in my life was Psychology. Becoming a shrink if you will. That of course lasted maybe a few months (4-5 months at the most) and this was when I was in the 10th Grade. I never really pursued it nor explored it. What attracted me towards this profession was listening to and helping people understand their problem. But unfortunately the fact of the matter was (well at least what I felt at that time.. I might have been wrong back then and even now) that I didn’t see much of a scope for a profession in psychology in Pakistan. Maybe if I was guided at that time or rather had the opportunity to get the guidance I would have chose an entirely different career path. I mean I have never explored psychology so I can’t really say that I have been yearning that over the last 9 years (ever since starting my BBA). But since then I have thought about the various other things that I would have loved doing. Some I still can (well let’s just see how much I want to do them now – separate topic and issue). My point is that if someone would have helped me explore these professions and helped me understand maybe what I was suited for then things might have turned out differently.
There is a dire need for a proper career counseling to be established within our educational system prior to Under Grad colleges. I mean career counseling at the bachelors level or masters level can only carry out a limited role. I mean the students have already picked out what there professional studies. I would hardly recommend a person doing his MBBS and then start trying to work for a an FMCG in Branding. Please don’t confuse this with entrepreneurship. That is a different ball game.
I think career counseling is extremely important for students in their 10th/11th grade so that they can pick out their subjects and future goals accordingly. This will also help expand the horizons and opportunities within Pakistan to allow for more professions to flourish and get the right recognition and acceptance. There are so many professions that get their due respect, social acceptance and growth globally that don’t get their fair share in this part of the world. Some are trying to make that happen but I see a long journey ahead of them.
For example, a career athlete in this country can only really do well if he has a strong association and talent in Cricket. Other sports by and large get ignored. Writing and Journalism also not really as high ended as they should be (apart from a small number of columnists and journalists who have earned a place in the top). Photographers, film makers, artists, chefs, psychologists, software (although pretty common still not up there), fashion (making and fighting its way to get there).
Unfortunately the mass of our part of the world has its focus on getting their kids towards doing MBA, Law, CA, Engineering and Medical. That’s really about it. I have never really convincingly come across any set of parents who would proudly push their kid towards becoming a professional photographer. Or a media content developer. Or a film maker. Part of that is unfortunately because the scope for making a decent living out of these professions isn’t really convincingly there. However there are some who are making their way through these professions to make a decent living. Some examples are Hassan Rizvi with his ‘Bodybeat’ classes and mehndi choreography services. K Bridals and Kohi Marri with their photography. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy with the documentaries. But really the collective amount of people who are encouraging these ‘alternative’ professions isn’t really that high.
I think encouragement at the right stage of life will help students get the motivation to really go and do what they want to do and what they feel is something they are good at and equipped to do. We need good career counseling to be established at school level to induce more and more people to do different things and do what they want. I would love seeing a Pakistan where there are careers other than those associated with MBAs, CAs, Law, Engineering and Medical out there. Also I would love seeing a Pakistan where the youth are guided well enough for them to understand what they want to do. Who knows if I was guided well enough I might have picked out Journalism or becoming a Media Anchor or something. Ahh who knows.