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Thirty-six-year-old Roshan Gujral, a graduate from Delhi University, spent the first 12 years of his career in the automobile industry and hit a glass ceiling after reaching the position of a departmental manager. He decided to pursue a one-year executive MBA offered by a leading American business school in 2005. He came back to India and joined the booming retail revolution. Now, armed with an international MBA, he moved up to the rank of general manager within two years.
A lot of corporate professionals are waking up to this new reality and are taking power breaks (often referred to as 'sabbaticals') from their jobs and are heading back to the classroom. So whether you want your dream job, change industries, or simply need the challenge, this 6-step process will help you think through your decision of going back to school.
List down your skill sets and experience
List exactly your skills and experience, focusing on what you 'can' do not on what you can't. These are commonly called "transferable skills" as no matter what line of work you're in, you can use them. You've probably got unique talents or knowledge -- go ahead and list those too. These may end up differentiating you from the rest, and help you land your dream job.
The objective of this activity is to ensure that you choose a course that gives you domain expertise and not just generic transferable skills. Entering a new industry might mean you need a certification or a license. Make sure you are willing to take that step.
Will it be easy to leave a job and go back to school?
Right, here's the really difficult bit. No one ever said it was going to be easy. Making the decision to leave a secure job requires you to do some tough thinking. But consider the alternative -- wasting your life in a dead-end job, unfulfilled and embarrassed.
Speak to the HR division of your organisation and find out if there are any policies around supporting employees who choose to take a break and pursue full-time education. A lot of companies sponsor such initiatives provided you are willing to return to the company on the completion of the course.
When is it too late?
It's only too late if you think you no longer have the discipline and rigour to go back to a structured and formal way of learning. A lot of professionals go for advanced management degrees in their late 40s and 50s.
"It's never too late to go back to give an extra boost to your career or make a midlife career change. Even the great painter -- Vincent Van Gogh was a schoolmaster and missionary before he taught himself how to paint. He was well into his thirties before his artistic talents were recognised. Not bad for a midlife career change," says Deeksha Singh, Head � business development, WCH Training Solutions.
What are the options?
Most business schools offer specialised programmes for executives. The management courses are most popular for the obvious reasons that most professionals target managerial and leadership positions after a few years of work experience. These short-term programmes range anywhere from three months to one year and offer professionals the opportunity to network with peers, learn from each other's experience, get back into structured thinking and introspect.
Here are some of the popular courses you can review:
There are several other options offered by international universities. Check out the website of the university you wish to study in.
The key benefits
Here are some of the key benefits of 'getting back to the classroom':
Is going back to school the only option?
There may be some gaps between you and your dream job, but if you could do it all already, why bother going back to campus? It's highly likely you can close those gaps without going back to campus full-time. Sounds unlikely? Well, have you heard job shadowing, or learning on the job? And what about taking a sabbatical to work in the voluntary sector to test things out? All of these allow a career change or time for introspection without going back to campus.
It is often said that if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. Lack of proper direction, education and guidance can stifle the process of your career growth. So if you think getting that advanced management degree or technical qualification will give you a head start in your career, draw up an action plan and do it -- it's up to you to make it happen.
The writer is a Managing Partner at W.C.H (We Create Headstarts) Training Solutions; a New Delhi based corporate training and consulting firm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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