Starting Early

Nepali society still fails to understand the significance of gaining some work experience before actually starting a career, let alone encourage it.

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So, this is it? You don’t want to study any further?” was the astonishing remark that I received from one of my relatives when I told her that I had landed my first job in print media. I had expected a different reaction; praise perhaps. Her response made it utterly clear that she did not understand my desire to work after completing my high school. Rather, her response was almost disapproving.

Nepali society still fails to understand the significance of gaining some work experience before actually starting a career, let alone encourage it. While channeling your time towards something productive and earning money while working is always fulfilling, there are many other benefits that starting to work early confers: experience, growth and preparation.

Young people learn to stretch themselves in the working environment. The environment at work is in many ways broader and more challenging than safety nets like academic institutions—schools, colleges and homes—where one is well acquainted with everything. A person learns to strive to meet or even exceed the expectations of employers and standards set by his coworkers. They constantly push themselves to do better, which grooms their capabilities and even reveals unidentified ones. For example, I never knew I had fairly good Nepali-to-English translation skills until I started working in the field of online reporting. Needless to say, working forces youth to take up new responsibilities. They work hard to get things done within the time limit without compromising on the quality of the outcome, and learn to prioritise, which are tremendously vital values everywhere: in daily life, studies, and future careers.

An early job has much to offer in this aspect. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about the field, make mistakes, rectify them under the guidance of mentors, and grow—all with zero hesitation. What I have personally felt is that senior coworkers are pretty considerate when a young aspirant in the field commits errors. It is a boon, as you will not be starting from the very bottom and will have had the ‘warm-up’ when time comes for you to commence your ‘official’ career after completing your education. Hence, starting to work earlier makes your résumé stand out—the very motive most people fail to recognise in our country.

While comparatively easier for boys, girls have to confront additional challenges before they can ‘start early.’ Though the concept of tethering girls within domestic chains is fading, most parents still hesitate to grant their daughters’ wish to work before clenching their educational degree. Shreeja Karki, a high school graduate currently working for Navyaata magazine, says, “My father was hesitant of me taking up the job at first. He wanted me to stay at home and prepare for my higher studies instead. A lot of reasoning went into convincing him.” She says her parents were concerned about the work hours and the fact that she’d be out all day. “However, recognising the career-lucrative opportunity that their daughter is getting, my parents reconsidered and I could grasp the same understanding.”

Unlike Karki, most girls are not so lucky. The most common reason that parents resort to is the age-factor. Because a girl might exceed her ‘ideal’ age for marriage if she takes up a job in between degrees, parents disapprove of it, sometimes just barely allowing time to complete her education. Parents should understand that age is not as big a deal as it used to be. Times are changing, and so should they. Years used wisely are investments, not wastages.

‘Starting early’ is not only well accepted but sought for in foreign countries. Because the concept is in its early stages in Nepal, most Nepali students who apply for admission to institutions abroad fall short of securing admissions and/or scholarships due to their lack of professional grooming. It might be hard to believe but in almost all colleges in the US, they have a section in their applications where a prospective student needs to mention—apart from their extracurricular activities—their work experience, which sadly, most parents in our country do not encourage their children to vie for.

Henceforth, I suggest that parents, rather than feeling their parenting skills questioned, jump on board if the children put forth a wish to work. Similarly, I encourage my contemporaries to start early and prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead. Now, as far as my relative’s opinion is concerned, I take it as an ignorant one. Comments as such should not hold anyone back. Lastly, since most people in Nepal are still new to the ‘starting-a-paid-job-early’ concept, expecting everyone to understand the significance of voluntarism might be too early.


source:Upadhaya, Anurup(2011),"Starting Early",The Kathmandu Post,6 Nov 2011

2010-11-06 | EducateNepal


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