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How peer influence affects an individual’s career choices!

Importance of Career Selection:

Career selection is a crucial stage during a student’s life. Nowadays it's quite normal to find individuals confused or unaware of their career path, even after having completed most of their education. Career Planning is not only a one-time occurrence that might end with the choice of a proper university or college. It extends until we find the job that suits us the best and helps us achieve a certain level of satisfaction in the work that we do. Making a career choice is a significant issue in the developmental cycle of an individual because it is reported to be related to positive as well as harmful psychological, physical and socio-economic effects that persist well into a person's adult life. Many factors affect an individual’s career choices. One of the few, yet major, influential factors are our peers.

Role of Peers in Career Selection:

The friendships we form throughout our lives have a lot of influence over different aspects of our life. They influence you socially, physically, and even financially. First and foremost, friendships give us a sense of belongingness, provide emotional support and even guidance when you need it the most. Your close friendships help to shape the course of your life. They don't necessarily have to be on a similar life path or hold equivalent dreams. But they provide a positive atmosphere for you to thrive.

Results from a study indicate that students are influenced by their peers in making career decisions in multiple ways. Chief among them is peer advice, encouragement and education. Individuals look beyond the confines of home to explore and find avenues that provide direction and self-expression more evident in the company of peers. Similarly, friends and peers are helpful in examining and scrutinizing feelings, beliefs and concepts in a suitable manner.

It is quite obvious till now that peers and friends have considerable push towards career decisions and academic choices. In fact, the role of parents in career selection in the process and personality development is typically in the initial leading roles but peers and friends seem to possess an influence in the adaptation of lifestyle, appearances, and even educational choices on an individual throughout. According to this study, peers and friends dominate academic choices and the career deciding process and have a positive role to play in it.

Issues stemming out of selecting a career under peer influence:

  1. In the initial stage of life, students choosing subjects under peer influence struggle with understanding the curriculum of the subjects they are studying. Which results in the student failing to cope with the academic requirements of the course.

  2. Struggling with the coursework brings about a drop in an individual’s self-confidence as a fear of failure begins to loom over their head making them go through a vicious cycle of self-doubt.

  3. With the individual’s self-esteem plummeting, the level of competence and excellence expected at a workplace also drops, leading to feelings of unfulfillment and inadequacy.

  4. A lot of these factors add to the individual experiencing mental and physical exhaustion while trying to cope with the loss of satisfaction out of one’s career.

Ways to Escape Peer Influence while Career Selection:

  1. Emphasize on the positive and minimize on the negative. Reaffirm your self-worth, and believe in your ability to make the proper career decision, without counting on the opinions of others. Avoid trying to “fit in” with others instead, focus on your individuality. “If you walk in the footprints of others, you won’t make any of your own.”

  2. Do your own research. Instead of depending solely on the information provided by peers over viable career options, try to explore your options yourself. Try to learn as much as you can about the career options available, what every career entails, what are the opportunities available for each career, and so on.

  3. Peer influence isn’t always negative if you're taking the proper approach towards it. Your friends might hold some valuable information that would prove beneficial to you but you don’t have to comply with it unquestioningly. Take the time to think and research the information provided.

  4. Focus on building and expanding your skillset. Lay down your goals and list down the skills you’ll need to reach these goals. Focus on building actionable plans for your career, as it would take your focus off of others’ beliefs and judgments.

  5. Walk on the scientific path. Best career decisions are made by taking under consideration an individual’s characteristic traits, abilities, and strengths. Instead of counting on people who can only see a fraction of the entire picture, make use of psychometric assessments done by trained professionals who follow a scientific approach towards career choices. Such assessments take under consideration your personality, aptitude, interest, socio-emotional intelligence and other factors to recommend careers that are best-suited to you.

  6. Seek the help of trained career counsellors. It is normal to go through bouts of confusion in making important career decisions. Taking the help of trained professionals can help you deal with peer influence, and find the right career suited to your abilities, personality and interest.

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