Monday, August 29, 2011

Planning Your Career

As I've seen in short period of my life, there are two types of people in the world: the lucky and the not-so-lucky. The lucky ones are those who get an early breakthrough in their career. This boosts their career and they can fly on new horizons. The not-so-lucky ones are those who do not get an early breakthrough, or any breakthrough. So either they can become pessimist and stay where they are, or they can become hard workers and start to build up their career bit by bit and step by step.

I've seen the live examples during my MSc Applied Linguistics. Two lucky people were among my teachers. Sir Hafiz Fazl-e-Haq always fascinated me, so does Madam Rabia Yasmeen. Both were just MSc Applied Linguistics at the time when they got University job. So I considered them best examples as people who get breakthrough, and specially an early breakthrough in their career. Another example from the same university, GCUF, is my friend Sir Noor-ul-Qamar. He is a lecturer in English Department. He got his job when he just was completing his M Phil. And now he is a well settled person. I am also fascinated by him when I see my own career. Well, when I talk about my career, perhaps I was not able to get a breakthrough. For me, the maximum one can get as a MSc Applied Linguistics degree holder, is to get university job, specially public sector university. The teachers were required actually, but I couldn't apply for the job because of my incomplete thesis.

So we get that sometimes we are not so lucky, or we miss some chances to get something. How to rectify any such error? Well, in my limited experience and knowledge I've seen that you've to build your career step by step. It is a 10 years plan actually which starts after you get your graduation/ masters degree. This plan, as I see it, can be build considering following points.
  • As a first step you look for a job. At this time your priority is not to get a handsome salary, but you look for 'a job', which can give you the right to be called a professional. In language teaching field, you will get the kinds of jobs as I mentioned earlier. As a trainee teacher, a school teacher, a private college teacher, you do not seek for handsome salary, but here your purpose is to seek knowledge to survive in market. You seek the ways to move in a professional environment. This experience gaining helps you in your future work.
  • As second step you seek for a better job. Here the questions come what is the better job and WHEN? The choice of 'what' is totally person dependent because some people are comfortable with teaching, others are not so they may pursue for other fields and start from zero again. 'When' is a crucial thing to answer. Because your first job is very important for you to teach youself professionalism. But at the same time not all first jobs are so generous to offer you good income. So you've to move along. This move along can be tricky and context dependent (see for pragmatics here folks ;-) ). A few things should be kept in mind in this regard:
    • You are being offered by a more prestigious organisation with a more suitable salary package.
    • You think that you've gained as much as you could from your current institute.
    • You think that you've spent reasonable time in the institution.
    • You think that you wouldn't be able to survive in this institution any more (this can be due to some unfortunate reason)
    • You think that you should concentrate on further studies instead of the job.
  • Today's professional world offers you no generosity but 'cut throat' competition. If you are best, you'll survive otherwise you'll be left behind by the natural selection process. So you need to improve yourself constantly. In teaching you should be aware of latest techniques of teaching, use of technology and other gadgets which keep on emerging every day. Along with it, you need to improve intellectually as well. Being a teacher does not mean you've stopped learning yourself. You learn even when you are teaching in class. But that's 'learn to teach', what I want to focus here is to continue your regular studies. Masters degree is nothing today. Hundreds of universities across this country produce thousands of masters degree holders every year. So you are no exception. For improvement, to be exceptional, to be better, you will have to pursue for higher studies. When I see for myself, I have a plan for PhD and Post Doctorate (if possible) in next 5 to 10 years. You should also plan for yourself that what you want to get more along with your masters/ graduation degree.
  • Reflection and Hope are two elements which are crucial for career advancement. You should, after a reasonable period of time e.g. 1 year, reflect on your previous time, sit and think about it. What have you gained, what have you lost and where did you overestimate about yourself. Hope is something which keeps you alive, and urges you to move forward. Never let the hope die. Because time is meant to change. Today if something is unfavourable, it wouldn't be so for long. In past 1 year, I always hoped for the best, that I would be no longer in that miserable school. (That's a different story how 1 year teaching in school benefited me and on what cost). But I never let the hope die. I had an urge that after some time I'll move forward. And to remind myself of this, I thought myself as water in a pond, which if stays long in the pond will grow algae in it. So I constantly reminded myself that if I stayed there for long, I'll rot and corrupt myself, because I've never seen myself as a school teacher. At least what I can bear for myself is a university lecturer. But to get this goal, I've to struggle and work hard, measure each and every step, move forward bit by bit, be patient, and keep on getting expertise in terms of education and experience of the field. Then with the Grace of Almighty, soon enough I'll see myself on the desired goal. And perhaps I wouldn't stop there as well, and will set new goals for myself.
So folks keep on moving, never stop and never let the hope die, plan well, be positive and patient, and keep my company ;-). You'll keep hearing such babbling from me in future as well. And your comments are absolutely desired. Correct me if I am wrong at some point, suggest a better way and add in, if I forgot something. What I said was just my experience, maybe you've something better to share.