x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

To deal with career confusion, accept it

The Life: If you face career confusion or doubt, it is good to keep the following three points that I often tell my friends and have helped to ease their minds.

Growing up I wanted to be so many things. As a child, I had a blackboard mounted to my bedroom wall and I yearned to be a teacher. Shortly after, my dream to be an airline host quickly was replaced with a dream to become a miracle worker - a doctor. In between that and my final high school year I also wanted to be a detective, a banker, and a circus acrobat.

However, it was not until my final year in school that career panic really hit me hard. I had college applications to fill out and I still did not know what I wanted to study or be in life. I remember applying for computer science and economic majors until I finally thought that media and communications studies were the right fields to cater to my creative mind.

It has taken a while, but after seeing many colleagues in the workforce who still face a similar dilemma, I know that career confusion can happen at any age.

A colleague quit her post at a financial organisation to follow her real passion - cooking - and finally opened her dream restaurant. In addition, many Emirati college students feel that they may have made the wrong choice of degree, or do not know what they want to do with their lives.

The good thing about this is that it is all right to be confused. No one has it completely figured out. We sometimes discover that our passion lies somewhere else years after we specialised in a different field, and that is not wrong. For instance, after I did my masters in diversity management, I regretted not doing it in a writing major. However, that did not discourage me from pursuing that passion.

If you face career confusion or doubt, it is good to keep the following three points in mind that I often tell my friends and have helped to ease their minds:

Ÿ You are not stuck with your college major for life. Choosing a college major is probably one of the most intense decisions. It is not uncommon if you are persuaded by your parents to follow an option that would have better job offerings than your true passion. My friend was persuaded by her mother to opt for an engineering major than an art one, as that would guarantee her a better paying job. Art would not equip my friend with "real" skills, thought her mother.

Do not overwork yourself. One has to be sensible when it comes to choosing a major, but valuable skills such as time management, giving a presentation and teamwork can be picked up with any major. An article published last May by The Washington Post stated that only 27 per cent of Americans worked in fields related to their majors.

If you are not in the 27 per cent, you can still have an awesome career. Mick Jagger's major was in literature and Rowan Atkinson of the Mr Bean show majored in electrical engineering.

Ÿ Which takes us to the second point: your first career is not your last. Sure it may feel that way when you first join an organisation, but you will not necessarily be in it for a long time. Career aspirations will change as your experiences grow.

Shifts in technology can also have a great effect on a career. Photographers who worked as film developers in studios had to adapt their roles to keep up with the advances in the digital world.

If you do not feel passionate about your job, figure out ways that you can learn from it. For instance, if you like your organisation's culture and team members, perhaps you should look for a job with a similar culture. Weigh out the pros and cons of your current role to help you make the right decision about your career path.

Ÿ Finally, it is wise to keep in mind that everyone - from chief executive to intern - goes through career confusion, and they do not necessarily have the answers to all their questions.

Career confusion, as irritating as it may be, is a good thing. It indicates that one cares about their future well enough to make the best out of it. So embrace the confusion, and never stop looking for answers.


Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and fashion designer. Follow her on Twitter: @manar_alhinai