10 November 2012

Zambia: Career Choice Dilemmas - Readers' Response


It has been discovered that most people have challenges in choosing a career of their choice basically because most schools now don't offer effective career guidance to pupils; and that even if such guidance was offered, scarcity of jobs makes most people fail to make a career choice that can really propel them to greater heights in life.

This article is attributed to many readers who have been reading articles in this column.

Among such readers are Sylvester Sakala of Matero Township in Lusaka and Timothy Kambilima of Mpatamatu High School in Luanshya.

Sylvester, 21, says he is in a dilemma in choosing his career.

He says, he doesn't want to make any mistake in career choice as this might negatively affect his future.

Sylvester said he wants to study Human Resource Management (HRM) or Business Administration (BA).

He has asked this author to advise which one to choose between HRM and BA.

Mr Kambilima says he is a History teacher at the stated school; and he enjoys teaching, reading and writing.

Mr Kambilima said he writes letters to the editor which are, in most cases, published in newspapers.

But Mr Kambilima's dilemma comes because some parents and his pupils have told him that he is a very good teacher; while some people who read his letters to the editor in newspaper have told him that he can be an effective writer or Journalist.

Mr Kambilima has asked this author to advise what he can do in such a predicament of career choices.

Should he continue as a teacher or he should change to Journalism or Mass Communication or do any course in creative writing?

It should be noted from the beginning that career choice as it was stated in this column before, is a product of many factors; and each factor should be considered carefully.

Moreover, passion for the job which is also a product of your own personality, interests and hobbies play critical a role in career choice.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Dr Solomon Jere, while welcoming President Sata's appointment to his current position as DIG of Police said 'don't go into a career just because that is what you could find or just to earn a living. Go into a career with passion to serve in that particular field'.

The monthly salary element is always there; but it should not be a priority for going into that career.

A monthly salary would be coming while you are also doing what you like doing most.

Therefore, job opportunities in a specific career should be considered carefully.

Although under normal circumstances, passion comes first in career choice, passion should also be tied to purpose of choosing that career.

It should also be noted that each person is endowed with a talent or talents.

As it was stated in one of the articles in this column, one should identify his or her talent (s) early; and start exploiting that talent (s) immediately for one's success in that career.

Therefore, situations where one identifies one's talent later after choosing a career arise.

Depending on the level of achievement in your existing career, one can decide to change the course of one's career or continue with the same career; but develop another one.

Therefore, one can change the career choice completely or one can continue with the same career; but develop another one side-by-side with the old one.

One can use all the talents as long as one programmes him/herself well to do what and when without negatively affecting the first career or other career talents.

Therefore, Mr Kambilima can go on in his teaching career; but exploit his potential in writing so that he could also be a writer on topics of his interest which also serve public interest.

One person can be an accountant, musician, soccer player and also a preacher.

All such professions or disciplines in one person.

There is nothing wrong with exploiting the talents that God put in you.

Exploit every talent God gave you and you will be happy on this beautiful Earth!

As a part-time lecturer and training co-ordinator in Diploma Programmes at University of Zambia (UNZA), Department of Extensions Studies, the author also advises students of certain ages and certain levels of experience who want to study certain fields to be careful when choosing their careers.

Knowing why you want to study that field is critical.

HRM and BA at certificate and Diploma levels are among those programmes that one should consider carefully before making a career choice on them.

It is important to consider why one wants to study something.

One should also consider at what level one wants to study something. Is it a certificate, Diploma or degree level?

One should also consider one's age and experience before studying some careers.

Studying certain programmes at certificate or Diploma levels while you are still young or you have no experience in that field might not give you job opportunities in that area.

Some jobs are age, experience or study level sensitive because of nature of their functions.

For example, HRM practitioners deal with human beings of different ages, backgrounds and situations.

As a result, in most cases, those who recruit candidates in HRM related functions consider age, maturity, level of training, experience, etc that help someone to handle HRM related sensitive situations without leading an organisation into unnecessary industrial unrests.

The current spate of industrial unrests in the country is proof that some HRM practitioners don't have relevant qualifications and attributes to handle different human resource related functions; and advise top management officials objectively, factually and fairly to avert the pending HRM related crisis.

HRM practitioners are part of top management; but they are middle persons between workers and top management.

They provide an objective, factual and fair link between workers and top management for sustained industrial harmony in an organisation.

Failure to play such a role leads to a series of industrial unrests in an organisation.

Similarly, studying BA should be considered with care. This is because BA is a general field of study.

BA exposes one to almost all other fields; but again, depending on the level of study, it might make you have general knowledge in most business programmes or specialise in one or two core courses.

Therefore, depending on the dynamics of the labour market, consider your talents and other factors before you choose a career.

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