22 February, 2011

Cheer for career nondevelopment!

In our TU, we are often told stories about careers, both previous and prospective. Pretty often managers and engineers come to visit, hold a guest lecture, and answer questions of students. One of the most common ones is the question of career development: students are keen to hear what the person in question has done to enhance his career, what he has studied and so on. All fine and well, but sometimes I get the feeling that the people giving these guest lectures just make their career seem too smooth.

Quite commonly those people either have very direct careers with few sidesteps - or at least that's how they make it seem. It conveys a sense of determination and target-mindedness, whether that is meant or not. I believe that this is not in the best interest of students. Most students grapple with quite common fears: fears such as "Will someone hire me?", "Am I working hard enough?", "Is working in student organizations sensible or not?". I feel very strongly that these fears will only get worse, if the picture presented to students is that of a target-minded career rocket. Most of the business people I have met actually value free time activities and personality highly, but this is rarely very explicitly conveyed in the lectures held to students.

Personally, I don't want to see students abandoning their hobbies just to favor ones more valued in business circles - unless there is actually an interest per se in those. Optimization of hobbies may help, sure. It's just that the chain better hobbies -> better job - > more happiness is affected by a lot of factors. There's so much ambiguity about a future career, that sacrificing five years of satisfaction in hobbies to create a tiny effect in the equation is not worth it. After all, every employer values motivated employees best. And the happier one is, the better the motivation. Oh yeah, and I've heard that happiness brings positive results outside the work environment, too!

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