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Another year has come with opportunities and promises galore. This year too, we have students from all over the island who have just completed their Ordinary Level or Advanced Level examinations. We have all gone through that stage, when we were finally done with school and are now waiting for the results of our hard work wondering whether to study further or embark on a career path.

After O/Ls and then A/Ls, things start to get serious. You choose classes and colleges that form the foundation for future career and education decisions. But don’t worry about making one career choice – you will make many throughout your life.
So for all those students out there, who are unsure of which path to take, here are a few options to consider along with some advice given freely.

First, set yourself up for lifelong success with a good foundation. If you learn more about your interests do a little planning and learn how to make good decisions, it can make a big difference in opening up better jobs, higher salaries and make you more of a “free agent” in the workplace.

1. Don’t wait for good things to come
It isn’t easy to start life from scratch especially in a country like Sri Lanka, where you need many qualifications to get a good position and pay. It is very difficult for students who are just starting out. Thus, the best option is to be proactive. Get that receptionist job you were offered. Get it, work but do not settle for it. In the meantime, study or do a course that will get you the qualifications you need for the job you actually want.

Sri Lankans have this dense notion that working a menial job to support yourself until you get to the real milestone you strive for is demeaning. Rid yourself of this notion. Strive towards what you want and don’t settle for anything less.

2. Create a portfolio
Portfolios and Curriculum Vitae are very important especially if you wish to be taken seriously in your career paths. You might find that many things you learn in school are quite unnecessary in the real world, unless it has something to do with the path you chose. Get a professional to create your CV if you do not know how. Include all your qualifications and make it look impressive.

Most people do not have their own portfolios, not many achievements to add to it. After all, not all of us can be shining sports stars or exemplary students. But that is alright. Mention your interests in the CV. Mention all achievements no matter how insignificant you may think it to be.

3. Get industry experience
It is always better to intern or work in the same field you hope to pursue. For example, if you want to become a lawyer, intern at a small law firm while you continue your studies. That way, the experiences you garner assist you with your studies as well as future job opportunities.

Industry Experience is crucial. If you haven’t got any experience yet, get it as soon as possible. A direct approach – such as an email explaining your passion for the company – is most effective. Recruiters love people who are willing to give up some spare time and more importantly, who believe in their mission. So draft a personal email and approach them.

4. Good time management is key
You might have heard of the phrase ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’. Don’t limit the amount of tasks you decide to take on for fear you won’t be able to cope. Push yourself everyday towards your goal.  As long as you are passionate about what you do, you will succeed. Don’t procrastinate – act now.

5. Build your network
Get involved in as many events, networking opportunities and societies as possible. Approach key people in the industry and be vocal about your skills and passion – because someone will notice.
Eventually, your level of motivation and overall happiness will increase and this will make your time an amazing experience. Overall, don’t forget: the more you do, the better you do.