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Interview: Career and the Chance Factor

20 May 2016

You really wanted that one job, but blew the interview. Bad luck or lack of preparation? You dream about becoming an entrepreneur, but what about the lack of security? And what if you fail? Taking risks is an art, but is it something you can learn? We ask Career Counsellor Hoang Nguyen.

Hoang Nguyen

How do you define career development?

The general definition, to which a lot of people would subscribe, is that career development is all about being successful. But what does success actually mean? In my work I talk to a lot of students and try to prepare them for the future. But when it comes down to it, developing your career is a personal process. There are students who want to make a lot of money, there are students who want to be happy in their work and there are students who want both. In my opinion, it’s important for students to find out more about their talents and qualities in order to gain a clearer vision of what they want to do in the future. They can then prepare for a job that makes them happy and enables them to support themselves.

What are the major risks and insecurities facing today’s students or graduates?

Although the labour market is changing, I don’t think we need to be worried or negative about the future. Today’s students and graduates will have the opportunity to develop and become experts in their fields. This will increase not only their employability but also our knowledge economy, which means more jobs. Of course, there will be insecurity in the future, as the number of permanent contracts is likely to decrease. That doesn’t mean that today’s students and graduates will be unemployed, however. Although there won’t be any job security, there certainly will be work in the coming years. What it means is that there will be enough jobs, but permanent contracts will be unlikely. People will have to be flexible and adapt quickly to new situations and developments. The downside is that not all of us are flexible and good at adapting to new situations. Some of us are more comfortable with a life that is more certain. The future job market will be more competitive. This development can already be seen in the current labour market. Students are already trying to increase their chances of landing a job they actually want. Not only does this lead to a rat race, but also to more stress.

How can we face these risks? How do we differentiate between risk and opportunity?

I think that we will all be our own individual companies. Entrepreneurship or owning a company is about a leap of faith. You never know what’s ahead. And you never know what the exact outcome of your decisions will be. So is there a right way to do things? No, there isn’t! We should therefore focus on seeing chances as they arise and trying to seize the ones that suit us best. Try to gain experience outside the academic world. Become familiar with different kinds of work in your field of expertise. Take the initiative. This is basically what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. In short, I think it’s important that we all act like entrepreneurs, regardless whether we actually own companies. One modern model of entrepreneurship that is used quite often in entrepreneurial courses is the Effectuation Model. This model uses five principles, one of which is ‘Affordable Loss’. What this means is that you should limit the risks per step, and choose goals and actions that have an upside even if the downside happens. By showing initiative, gathering different experiences and calculating your affordable loss, you can create opportunities from risks and succeed in your chosen path.

Last modified:17 February 2017 11.08 a.m.

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