Growing up, we all picture ourselves as big players in our careers with a smile touching the tips of our ears. No one wants to be a failure in life, even those who are regarded as ‘losers.’

We have heard it before; from motivational speakers, parents, mentors and leaders that when one is happy in their line of work they attract success because they love what they do everyday.

But, what exactly are the ingredients and recipe one needs to have and cook till they become successful and happy in their professional life?

Our writer spoke to Ms Margret Waithaka, the Managing Director of Discover Your Career (DYC), a career guidance institute about the secret to a happy and successful career.

According to Ms Waithaka, a person’s uniqueness is what creates or determines the purpose of one in life.

“As an individual, you must be in a position to understand your distinct interests, strengths, abilities, skills, talents and gifts. Armed with self-knowledge and matching it with day-to-day activities, one tends to be innovative, productive, motivated and generally displays high levels of satisfaction and joy,” she says.

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Research has revealed that when an individual is put in an environment that mirrors their interest and passion, they gel within the setting and become happy workers.

Therefore, before diving into tertiary education just after high school, it is important that the student and the parent walk through the interests and strength of the young adult.

This will in turn show way on what the young person might study so as to avoid wasting time, talent and money in dead end courses and stagnant careers.

But how exactly does one match the interest or passion with the right course?

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“There are assessments that one does in order to understand their strength and dominant interests versus areas where they lack interests,” explains Ms Waithaka.

“After the assessment, the profile then matches the strengths with careers that one would possibly enjoy, including areas of gain,” she adds.

“At DYC, we conduct such career assessments an advice students on their future careers that is in line with their acquired grades and entry level requirements as stipulated by the Ministry of Education,” she says.

She further advises that institution such as Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) and career books such as Careerpedia series can equip one with the right information on career paths.

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“In our organisation, currently, we have a team of experts working on a career informational portal for all queries, and we will be launching it at the end of March,” she says.

However, with much information at disposal, many people still end up choosing careers that do not match their interest, passion nor strength.

Ms Waithaka says the first mistake people make is making a decision with school grades and subject instead of knowledge on oneself.

“Our education system for instance is very merit based, that is it only looks at the grades and ignores the other facets of a human being,” adds Ms Waithaka.

Parental influence also plays a huge role in career path for many youngsters. Parents, at times, lack awareness of their roles in career guidance and concentrate in school performance.

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“Parents most times mean well when advising their kids on career, but most of the time the parents force their children to take careers that they have no interest in or they want to live their dreams in their children,” she says.

Other factors that contribute to wrong career decisions, according to Ms Waithaka, are: Peer pressure, picking career at random, relying on word of mouth mouth, paying attention to money and opportunities in place of passion.

It is, therefore, important that students, teachers and parents get knowledge on career awareness in order to equip the youth with the right skills that will benefit them in future.

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