Sharpen Your Skills: Diligent in Career

A career does involve many different types of jobs, but it is much more than a job. A career can be defined as a journey of the entire work life of an individual while a job is short-term and for a few years. We may change many jobs in a lifetime career. Job is a means to fulfill our needs, while a career is an end in itself. Education is the basic requirement for getting a job, however, a career requires planning, specific training to upgrade existing skills, make new connections and increase the network, and gain experience.

Expectations from an employee in a job are that they must do the same action in the same position with the same skill. An employee building their career does not have the same liberty and will need to work harder, learn new things, and align their work with personal growth – which is directly related to the growth of the organization. The employee must be attached to the organization and have a sense of ownership as it affects their prospects.

A career-oriented employee must direct their free time during office hours, in acquiring new skills and sharpen their work patterns and constantly improve themselves. This may entail identifying and tracking innovations in the domain of operations. These technologies are usually disruptive as they change the way things were handled a couple of years ago and the period may be only a few months. Employees may have to pick up many new skills and the same may be ever-changing.

Some examples of disruptive technologies are – e-commerce, smartphone, blockchain to name a few. We can buy fast food, provisions, clothes, spectacles, electronic gadgets, travel tickets – air, train or bus/cab, all of them and many more using a computer or a smartphone. No long queues now in any of these shops or railway lines. We used to have many devices – camera, handy cam, walkman, iPod, radio, digital diary (storing phone numbers), laptop or desktop for communicating or browsing the internet, Bibles, bank passbooks, newspapers, alarm clocks, calendars, ISD calls and many more – but these all are replaced by a smartphone. We can make international calls at a very affordable cost of internet data only on WhatsApp or Skype. We would send money using banks or currency exchanges by paying big amounts of transaction charges. Now we can do transactions for free or for a very little amount and transfer funds to anywhere in the world using bitcoins / other cryptocurrency.

We all understand these technologies now and in many similar domains. A career-oriented person can learn such technologies all by themselves. With the advent of the Internet, there is no need of attending a college or training center to acquire these skills. Many videos on YouTube and MOOC courses are available at almost no cost on Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, and our desi Swayam and NPTEL. Many working professionals have weekend courses – both in online and offline mode. Many courses are self-paced and can be completed in 6 months to a year.

Career Skills for Students:

All EU students must excel in their studies. Earlier excellent students were not seen in the EU and EU students were not excellent. Things are slowly changing and recently many EU students have excelled in their universities and topped the institutions as well. However, the majority of our EU students are not eligible for placements as they have not secured the minimum percentage requirement. EU students must realize that the first responsibility on campus is to be regular in classes and must excel in their academics. Graduates and staff workers must help students not only in spiritual matters but also take initiative to discuss the struggles in grades and backlogs if any.

EU students must manage time effectively and balance between activities and programs in EU and academic, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities. EU students are not actively engaging in discussions on how their particular discipline is shaped by Christian belief. They must be able to Christianly think through their discipline. UESI encourages Study Forums on various disciplines so that students of like domains can exchange ideas and build a Christian perspective of their discipline. This will also create an interest that God is the actual author of the discipline and students would like to explore and excel when they see God’s hand in everything.

The spark will be fanned to a great fire and students will focus on excellence in their discipline. If EU students realize, they are in a course because God has chosen them to be in that specific course and specific institution, they will put in extra effort. Daniel and his friends were not afraid of the King’s decisions as they were sincere in their work and were fully aware that God was in control. They resolved to obey God and God blessed them with excellence. EU students must also prioritize obedience to God in spiritual life and academic life. They must be like Daniel – neither negligent nor corrupt in their classes and assignments. Then they will be obtaining grades and placements as well. They will look for various avenues for practical exposure. There are so many do-it-yourself (DIY) projects available online that it is very easy to pick up the experience needed all by themselves.

Students who can demonstrate that they have done small projects/experiments stand a better chance is securing Internships in various MNCs and reputed companies. EU students must be able to balance their summer camps and internships in academia/industry. UESI must also make camps available on different dates to cater to such students.

EU students must be encouraged to write their Vision Statement for their own life, maybe in the first and second years in the EU. Staff and graduates can spend time and explain the various available career options, and the pre-requisites needed to achieve the goals. EU students must be able to prioritize involvement in their spiritual nourishment and academic excellence. Many EU students do not have a clear plan for their higher education and the kinds of jobs that they want to take up. This plays a detrimental role in their career choices and it is too late by the time they realize.

Career Skills for Graduates:

If excellence becomes a fabric in an EU student, then it continues with them in their workplace as well. In the book of Genesis, we see Joseph excelling as a slave in the house of Potiphar, even when he was imprisoned, and lastly as a Prime Minister. We must maintain excellent work ethics and be sincere and punctual. We must reach on time and be available for the entire duration and then only the expected output can be delivered.

Some of the graduates may be talented and maybe in a position to multitask. Many graduates may be skilled and sincerely do the job with utmost sincerity. Many times, they are not ready to move to uncharted waters and take challenges. It is very important to add on skills while on the job. There is no luxury of taking a break for training and equipping. The pandemic of the last two years, has taught us how to run online camps, committee meetings, Bible studies, and many aspects of how to use online tools – Zoom, Google Meet, WebEx etc. We have attended/conducted online classes and even exams as well.

Skill Development is not an option anymore. It is a necessity. A few years ago, we never knew ways to communicate socially – Facebook, WhatsApp, Insta, Snapchat, Telegram, Hangouts – all online. We learned how to use smartphones and touch screens. No one taught us nor did we take training. Our parents and elderly relatives have also learned to use some of the tools I mentioned. What was a necessity is picked up. Hence if we have a vision for life, we make out time for things that matter.

Graduates also must be clear about their vision for life. Young graduates must be taught to have a dream/goal / plan. If they have set a vision statement while being a student, then there must be a check on how they have progressed. A course correction is needed in case there is not much progress or if there is a change in passion or interests. There is always a tension between the good versus the best. We are tempted to pursue the good as it is easier and the best option appears to be intangible and very difficult.

Graduates need to rise above the level of mediocrity and must be willing to organize themselves and put in an extra effort in the right direction. We may have wasted much time by being complacent. Paul encourages us to press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. We must be willing to upgrade and create a version 2.0 of ourselves. We must be adaptable to take up new roles and different assignments. We may fail miserably but we would have learned useful lessons. Who knows we may have been an overwhelming success?

We hear about start-ups and innovation everywhere and we see many hackathons being conducted. If we are concerned about our work, the people around us, and the society at large – our heart will make our minds work to make this world a better place for all whom we see suffering or in some great need. The government provides many incubation facilities for the right kind of ideas to break ground and take root. If our idea succeeds, we can become job creators and not just job seekers. As an entrepreneur, we can not only facilitate jobs but build the careers of many people.

What are we waiting for? We need to wake up from slumber. We have relaxed much. Time is running out. It is time for action now. Apostle Peter encourages that we must strengthen our spirituality by adding faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. If we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will make us effective and productive in our lives. King Solomon in his wisdom challenges us to be someone skilled in work. He encourages that we will serve before kings. Let us be diligent in all that we say and do that we can be influential in our colleges and workplaces. May God help us to be approved workers in His vineyard.

Dr. Pilli Emmanuel Shubhakar, a former Machilipatnam ICEU student presently working as an Associate Professor in MNIT Jaipur, a board Member of UESI and Chair of the Training Department, lives with his wife Phoebe Vanmathy Julius, a School Teacher and daughter Pramiti Evangeline studying in Class IX.  

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