The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best College Programme (Part 2)

Now that you’ve figured about yourself, we move on to understand how your personality fits into the opportunities within the wider world of work.

Updated 08 Jun 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best College Programme (Part 2) - Feature-Image

Part 1 Recap:

Knowing thyself is an art and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Knowing thyself paves way towards a greater clarity in career planning.

Now that you’ve gazed into your own cocoons and mulled over your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and potentialities with a fine-tooth comb, you’re pretty much on your way to be a boon for yourself and the career world that’s set to revolve around you.

So are you good to go? We don’t mean to rain on your parade but not quite yet because that’s just one bitty chunk of the bigger portrait – which escorts us to the second part of our series *drumrolls*.  

understand working world

Part 2: Understand the Working World

Bye-bye seniority, hello 21st century!

Gone are the days where tenure poses as the defining factor to crawl scale your way up the corporate ladder. #Letsbehonest, technology has radically revamped the workplace over the last couple of decades. Think Facebook is still the faddy hub for millennials? Well, rack your cranium over that notion again because Snapchat is on its way to be crowned as the next mobile must-have.

Here are two critical parts to understanding the working world.

survey the field

#1. Survey the Field

As the silver spoon generation young, bold and aspiring millennials enter the job market with limited exposure to the ins and outs of the industries, professions and labour market trends, career exploration is as an essential piece of the career development process.

Yes, we are talking beyond drawing a parallel between the world of culinary and the acid-tongue chef, Gordon Ramsay and his barrage of unforgiving (but creative) insults.

Often, you may be able to pin down careers you’re interested in without a hitch, but yet you may struggle to put your finger on what education or skills you need in order to excel in that field. As such, surveying the field also incorporates a thorough understanding of the general structures of the world of work, along with its career possibilities and alternative pathways.

Kick start your blown-up-research by digging deep and chewing over the pointers below:

  • Occupations – find out job descriptions and qualifications necessary to gain entry to careers. Will you need a Masters degree, or is an undergraduate degree sufficient?
  • Industries and professions – look at current developments and industry outlooks to get a scoop on hiring process, career paths and potential employers.
  • Labour market trends – what are the current and projected labour market demands, recent salaries and skills necessary for employment?
  • Education & degree  courses – research information on the assortment of courses available through colleges and universities.

Tips: If you have spare time on your hands (which we know you do #guiltyascharged), you may also give it a go at these worthy-career-exploration activities:

  • Speak to employers to find out more information about jobs offered
  • Go for workplace visits and tours (maybe crash your parents’ offices?)
  • Try out job shadowing
  • Attend career fairs and listen to guest speakers
  • Get career-focused mentoring
  • Set yourself apart by signing up for an internship (#godlike)

The gist is to match your interest with the nature of the careers that you have in mind.

But don’t get too wrapped up with an in-depth analysis of a specific industry. Instead, seek to lock down a basic inclination for the type of work you’d love to be doing.

Case in point? If you aspire to battle in court and play swords against injustices (read: lawyer), here are several ingredients that should be taken into account.

  • Tasks – A lawyer’s everyday tasks would comprise of representing clients in court, presenting evidence to defend clients, interpreting laws, rules & regulations for individuals and businesses, study constitution, decisions & regulations to determine ramifications for cases, to name a few.
  • Knowledge – Contrary to contemporary belief, being a lawyer stretches beyond knowing the law like the back of your hand. There’s also paperwork, documentation, comprehension in customer and personal service as well as administration and management.
  • Skillsactive listening (giving full attention to what other people are saying while taking the time to understand the points being made), speaking (talking to others to convey information effectively while asking questions appropriately), critical thinking (using logic and reasoning to come out with the best solution) and remain well-composed (avoiding acting hastily based on emotions), to name a few.
  • Work context – Mostly indoors with a lot of face-to-face discussions and interactions, and lots of travelling (read: Malacca early morning for court case, Klang in the afternoon to meet a client, and back in KL at the office to finish up documentation). Oh, also be prepared to put in long and demanding hours.
  • Work stylesObjective (ensure client is well represented regardless of whether the client is guilty or innocent), integrity (honest and ethical), attention to detail (being detail and thorough in work tasks), high stress tolerance (being a lawyer also equates to accepting criticism and dealing with them calmly and effectively).
  • Salary – Akin to the myriad of occupations out there, the starting salary would be basic (read: lower your expectations).
  • Education – 3 years law degree, 9 months Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) plus another 9 months of chambering.

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employment trend

#2. Understand Employment Trends

Picture this: As you wander along the highway for a night cruise, the sight of a gleaming job title plate (screaming “Coin Facilitation Engineers”), hits the corner of your eyes. From a distance, you begin to scratch your head – in attempt to decipher it. In a split second, you’re greeted by a jovial toll booth collector and the mystery is solved.

Chances are, you have no idea that the grandiose title of “Gastronomical Hygiene Technicians” also stands for a dishwasher, “Petroleum Transfer Engineers” for a petrol station assistant, or “Domestic Technician” doubling as a housewife (we can go on, but we’re cringing too).

Yes, the modern office is now bowing down to a breakneck in technological transformation, and that goes double for today’s rapidly evolving and sometimes ridiculous job titles. This is where the essence of understanding employment trends flows in. It strives to identify what options / opportunities exist, how they can be accessed, the changes that are occurring in workplace as well as its impact on individuals.

With the influx of new technologies on our ever-changing job market, it comes as no surprise that many careers today may be very different or perhaps, non-existent in a few years down the road.

Today, there is already a multitude of jobs that are set to rock the future. Fields such as big data, data security, ethical hacking, cloud computing, user experience (UX), user interface designer (UDI) as well as 3D printing are pretty much on their way to take the world by storm.

Nonetheless at the end of the day, always bear in mind that things will change and there will never be a definite guarantee. As much as the market trend offers glimpses of desirable alternatives, you should never plunge headfirst into a particular course or degree solely because employment trends tell you to do so (or because all your friends are doing it).

Case in point? Take petroleum engineering for instance. Just a couple of years ago, it was every parent’s goal to subtly coax their children into taking up the programme because of sky-high oil prices. Until... the oil industry scene crashed. Yes, digital could very well be the next big thing but then again, who knows what will happen tomorrow? #inceptionmuch.

Now that you’re all pumped up, here are a few more question for you to sleep on tonight.

  • Does the career / educational pathway you are looking at fit your personality (interests, strengths, skills)?
  • What would make a job satisfying for you?
  • Which work environment fits you best?
  • Will the career / educational pathway that you are considering provide employment opportunities and a flexible path for the future?


#3. It’s a Match!

Citing the father of career counselling (#dontplayplay) - Frank Parson, a gratifying career decision is conceived out of three factors:

  1. Clear understanding of yourself (traits, aptitudes interests, personal abilities).
  2. Sufficient knowledge of about the world of work and the labour market.
  3. Rational and objective judgement about the relationship between individual traits and the labour market.

In short… your personality traits + a course (or career) that is a good fit with your traits = enhanced success + satisfaction.

With all that being said, Part 1 and Part 2 of our series are two critical components that you should not turn a blind eye on (yes, we did not cook them up out of thin air).

As we draw closer to the last part of our series, you can slowly remove your worry-hat as we explore other practical considerations (ya’know money and time) that you ought to weigh before pulling the trigger.

Missed out the first part of our fool proof guide to choosing your ultimate college programme? Don’t fret, read up The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a College Programme (Part 1).

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    Grace Chan

    Grace Chan

    Writer. An ardent follower of Carl Jung & Rumi. A green tea junkie whose daily dose of therapy include binging on the divine fluid. Grace also feeds on Psychology and will give away just about anything to cuddle with furry felines.