Courting Your Career: Part 1

Feb 19, 2016 1 Min Read

Starting a relationship with your future job

The decision-making process for your career can be daunting. Now, allow me to compare it with the decision-making involved in matrimony as these two decisions have many similarities. How will you know who is the right person to marry? What if you have doubts about spending the rest of your life with this person? Getting hitched can be as intimidating as choosing your future career path.

Imagine this—you are a guy, deciding whether it’s time to buy the engagement ring and plan a proposal, or you are a girl who just got proposed to. There can be lots of things going through your mind but I’d like to think that the crux of the matter comes down to these few factors:

  1. This decision has long-term implications—can you support a family doing this? How about your folks?
  2. It has far-reaching consequences —quality of life, social status etc.
  3. As it affects your future, there are significant amount of risks that you have to consider.

Now, let’s change the context. You are a 17-year-old, fresh-out-of-secondary school teenager. You are burdened with the task of deciding which course to enrol yourself into. Aren’t those three elements mentioned above relevant in this decision as well?

  1. What you choose to study will shape your career path in the long run.
  2. What you choose to study can have major implications for your personal life.
  3. You will only know whether you have made the right choice after some time in the future.

So, if you are like the aforementioned 17-year-old, then take heart in the reality that you are not the only one who is having a hard time. Moreover, do know that all is not lost and there are a few things that you can do to make this decision a little easier.

As these two decisions are relatively similar, let’s look at what people usually do when choosing a soulmate.

The purpose of courtship

It is not uncommon in many cultures to have a period of courtship prior to marriage and for good reason. The chief purpose of courtship is to assess compatibility and some of the steps are as follows: First, you spend hours on the telephone or on some mobile messaging application like WhatsApp to get to know each other. Second, you attempt to find common activities to do together. Third, you spend time with your partner’s immediate and extended family members.

You also court for a prolonged period of time to ensure all the good deeds he or she is doing is not a flash in a pan or the actions of a charlatan. All these are done in an attempt to get to know your partner, so your decision to marry is made with as much information as possible. Thus, the same thought process can be applied to our career decision-making process.

We need to court our job

The use of “job” instead of “college major” is an intentional one. Even though you are deciding which course to study, the minimum three to five years spent pursuing your degree is but a fraction of the time you will be spending in your job.

So how do you court a job?

Well, you try them out, similar to dating. Look for opportunities for part-time work or internships. And if you can’t try them out first-hand, ask people who have, just like you would ask people who knows your would-be partner well. Scour your extended family for relatives who are in a particular profession.

If all else fails, you could consult the modern-day oracle, Google. There are many websites which contain the job information you are looking for and a favourite of mine is Be as thorough in your online research of a job. All these actions should be able to yield you information about what the job looks like and hopefully, help make the decision-making process less stressful.

Last but not least . . .

I’d like to point out that there will still be some amount of anxiety when making this decision. However, one does not need to stress as much about making the perfect career decision as much as making the perfect marriage decision.

Unlike marriage, it is relatively easier to leave your job, not to mention, more socially acceptable too. Employers today are increasingly looking for key characteristics like attitude, work ethics, and willingness to learn more than the degree you specialised in.

In the modern world today, it’s common to find individuals working in fields totally unrelated to their tertiary education. I’d like to think that this is a reflection of life—you can prepare and plan as much as you like, but things do not always go according to plan.

What you can do, however, is to gather as much accurate information as needed before making critical decisions.

Ensure it’s an informed decision rather than a foolish one. While you cannot guarantee that you will find happiness in your job as much as you cannot predict whether you will be happy with your partner for the rest of your lives together, make the most of both every day.

So carry on. Woo your career. Happy courting!

See also: Courting Your Career: Part 2

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Justin Yap is a Consultant Trainer and Talent Assessor with Leaderonomics. He is also a lecturer, counsellor and counselling supervisor.

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