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Choosing a career? Think twice
July 06, 2005
here can be times when a bird in the hand is not better than two in the bush.
Take, for instance, the following incident.
I was in the gym the other day when I bumped into Aarti, a single mom who works as a secretary in a firm on weekdays and supplements her income by working as a receptionist in the gym on Saturdays.
She has single-handedly brought up her son, Rohan. Despite the hardships, she is a cheerful person who always sees the positive side of things.
On that particular day, though, she had a big frown on her face and her expression was gloomy, to say the least. "What happened, Aarti? You don't look happy today," I asked her. And everything came tumbling out.
She was unhappy because her son Rohan, after having passed his hotel management programme from a very prestigious institute, had decided to join a call centre. Why? The call centre paid him Rs 8,000 per month, whereas he was being offered only Rs 6,000 as a hotel management trainee.
"He does not realise he does not have as much scope in a call centre as compared to his specialised profession," she moaned.
When money talks
While I do realise there are no guarantees either way, I understand Aarti's frustration. The fact that you can earn a lot of money right away tends to influence a lot of young people I know. Many decide against pursuing higher studies. Others, like Rohan, decide to leave a prospective career for a job which may pay more today, but may not be a good idea in the long run.
Why would you not want to wear designer jeans as opposed to cheaper, unbranded ones?
Who does not want to go to expensive restaurants instead of making excuses to friends because you do not have enough money to spend?
Who would not want to buy a new camera phone as soon as it is out in the market instead of using the same old phone that mom had been using for two years before she gave it to you?
Who wants to slog for a measly salary in the hope of bigger things in the future when one's friends are living it up today?
These reasons are understandable, but are not entirely valid. They are short term and tend to be myopic.
Of course, there are lots of practical reasons for changing your profession.
Five valid reasons to join a call centre
i. You have a degree, but do not specialise in any particular profession.
So you join a call center as a representative, a job which may offer prospects of promotion if you do well.
There's nothing wrong with the job per se.
ii. Your family has an immediate economic need that necessitates your going to work and this job is available.
iii. Though you have specialised in one particular profession, you find there is not much scope there. It could also be that finding a job in that area is very difficult.
iv. It also happens, sometimes, that what caught your interest at one time no longer excites you. You may have had some reasons for pursuing a particular course but those reasons are no longer valid, and you are no longer interested in doing that kind of work.
v. Another reason could be that you aren't the ambitious type and are satisfied with a nine-to-five job that gives you a decent salary.
These are all realistic reasons and, under the circumstances, your choice is justifiable.
I thought there might be a nobler reason for Rohan's decision; after all, he had seen his mother work hard all her life to support him. He might want to ease the burden on his mother.
Aarti pooh-poohed this quickly. "He spends all his money on himself. Not that I am expecting him to do something," she said.
Part II: Career vs quick money -- which is better?
Shilpa Sheth, is a Director of Shilputsi Consultants. She has an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and has been in the field of Human Resource Management for the last 21 years. She is on the guest faculty at various b-schools, co-authors a column in a premier business magazine and has anchored the HR management television show Managing People.