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How to make the career shift as accessible as possible

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

We caught up with Donna Litt, COO and co-founder of Uvaro, to discuss the art of making a career shift as accessible as possible.

Uvaro is a career success company that provides people with the practical and soft skills needed to succeed in new careers in the technology sector.

TRADITIONAL APPROACHES TO EDUCATION RELY HEAVILY ON CURRICULUM THAT DON’T NECESSARILY TRANSLATE TO SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL CAREERS IN THE LONG RUN.

DONNA LITT, COO AND CO-FOUNDER OF UVARO

More often than not, these programs tend to stop giving after graduation, or at most the first job. But what after that? This has got a lot to do with the way curriculum are designed- exceedingly grounded on rote learning and test performance evaluations. When students are assessed majorly on low-level thinking skills such as memorisation and recall, they are not sufficiently prepared for complex real-world situations that would require practical applications of what they have learned.

WHAT THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION SHOULD SERVE

Ideally, education should aim to impart knowledge and skills that go beyond the walls of the classroom, to nurture independent thinkers- assessing them on higher order thinking skills such as analyzing, evaluating, and creating. In short, they should be taught how to think and not what to think. That is not to say knowledge-based education is dispensable, as theoretical knowledge is the foundation on which practical skills can be developed. Retrieving acquired knowledge and applying it to situations appropriately, is a skill in itself.

Hiring managers are looking for candidates who can add value to their organisation instead of simply following instructions. This calls for a sustainable long-term career support system that guides students through landing their dream job, climbing the ranks, and hitting goals at every stage of their careers.

CAREER TRANSITIONS DON’T HAVE TO BE TERRIFYING

One of the most apparent fears faced by anyone contemplating a shift in their career is probably apprehensions about having to learn new skills and practices to be able to make a successful transition. Even more so, if it’s been a while since graduation or been long since you started working in a particular job.

But upskilling doesn't have to be linear or stop after graduation.

Lack of experience in a particular field no longer stands in the way of getting started there. With the right kind of support, one can always move forward in their chosen career path or flourish in a different path altogether.

While we agree that the job market is constantly evolving, we should also acknowledge that opportunities always favor those who are ready to seize them. To be ready for the same, candidates should have access to the right resources and the flexibility to align their learning experience with their personal goals and preferences.

RESOURCES, ACCESSIBILITY, AND FLEXIBILITY – KEY INGREDIENTS TO FUEL CAREER GROWTH

Gone are the days when textbooks served as the supreme source of gaining knowledge. Learning experiences today have evolved to become extremely personalised to suit the very particular interests and requirements of individuals and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The internet has opened doors to a world of limitless learning, from the best minds of any industry one wishes to be part of. Engaging with those currently in the industry means that students will be able to experience second-hand the most relevant practices and happenings of that industry. Interestingly, these lessons are not just about the best practices to follow but also about making mistakes, correcting them, and learning from these mistakes to understand how to deal with similar situations and solve problems creatively. Mentorships are one of the most personalized ways of learning that can instill confidence and offer valuable feedback at every step of the learning process.

Similarly, the importance of being part of a strong community cannot be emphasised enough. A diverse network of fellow students, industry experts, and coaches creates opportunities for one to interact and learn from the varying perspectives and experiences of others.

Going forward, the guidance and support derived from these connections will prove invaluable for both personal development as well as career growth.

Needless to say, the quality of learning is greatly influenced by the methods of teaching and there is no one right way to do it. However, the best practices always reward students with a thorough understanding of the subject matter, along with a better understanding of themselves as individuals, and in the process equip them to think on their feet when need be. For instance, our career success platform Uvaro follows a “flipped classroom” approach to teaching, where in-class time is used primarily for discussion, inquiry, application and assessment, and course materials are usually introduced outside of class for independent perusal. This way, students are encouraged to make the most out of their classroom interactions with instructors and peers through meaningful engagements, to absorb the lessons effectively instead of depending solely on learning material. Role plays, group activities, peer instructions and presentations all help simulate real-world experiences and prepare students to step outside their comfort zones.

Putting the acquired knowledge and skills into practice is as important as completing these lessons. Paid internships and residency programs are great ways to put one’s skills to the test. This way, students have the opportunity to get placed at the top companies of the industry and gain first-hand experience without worrying about the ‘need experience to get experience’ paradox. Passions, strengths and skill sets vary from individual to individual and there are tools and resources available to help students navigate that too – such as specially curated job boards for specific skill sets and highly customised job application packages.

To thrive in today’s fast-paced, dynamic and highly competitive environments, as job descriptions put it, one needs to be able to quickly learn and adapt, think critically and communicate effectively. Thanks to technology, we are now in a better position to be able to do this than ever before.

Our dream careers are no longer distant dreams.

They are very much attainable and that too with the kind of flexibility we could only have imagined a few years ago.

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