MY LIFE, MY CAREER: A career guidance talk presented to the learners of Royal College, Ibadan (R.C.I) By Mrs. Udume, Patricia Nkechi.




One of the most important decision a young leaner will make in life is all about a future occupation. The choice of an occupation is very important because; it determines the prospect of our success in life, our group of friends, business associates, recreational activities, opportunities, salary status and general life style seems to be determined or influenced by our career. After this, comes the choice of future partner in marriage.

The purpose of this talk is to create awareness to the leaners of this centre for qualitative education of what career is, and how to make a wise and realistic career choice in life, and in our country Nigeria where one does not practice what one studies in the university. The process of getting admission into higher school tends to frustrate the decision of one’s choice of career and kills the beautiful endowment of nature in an individual.

Etymology (An account of the origin and historical development of CAREER)

The word career comes from the French word ‘carriere’ meaning “road, or race course” which in turn comes from the Latin word ‘cararia’ meaning “track for wheeled vehicles”. It also originated from the Latin word, ‘carrus’ which means “wagon”.

The word career is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a person’s “course or progress through life”. In other words, career describes an individual’s journey through learning, work and other aspect of life.

In this definition, we can say that career relates to some aspects of individual’s life, learning and work. That is to say: There is a purpose for which God gave us life. Secondly, our life is also shaped through learning and finally what we have learned in the course of living reflects in the work we do or the career path we have chosen. In other words, career involves special training or formal education and is considered to be a person’s life, work and also a sequence of related jobs.



Choosing the right career can be difficult, but having a defined career direction will help you and with a little handwork, food planning and some serious self-reflection. You can set yourself on a path towards a fruitful, fulfilling career that can provide for you and your family.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a career. Before you make these considerations, there are two issues involved in choosing. The first is the ‘career’ while the other is ‘self’ or the person.

We must look at our personal attributes and know them very well. What are the requirements for the career we hope to go into? Answer some pertinent personal questions, such as: “do I have the personal attributes to make a success of that career? Ii it a job I will enjoy when enter into it?”

The following are the factors we need to consider before making up our mind to choose a particular career:

  1. Interest: This is the expression of our desire to know or learn something. It could be something in which we concern ourselves. It could also be something that arouses our attention, curiosity or concern. Leaner’s interest vary in various subject areas. Interest also refers to what we like to do or what one enjoys doing. Knowing our interest area will aid a realistic choice of occupation.
  1. Intelligence: This refers to the power of perceiving, learning, understanding and knowing. People differ in the gift of intelligence. We have people of high, average and low intelligence. Intelligence aids learning and it is a major requirement to make success in certain occupation.
  1. Aptitude: This is the ability for one to be successful in a given programme when trained. We have various types of aptitude. They are:
  2. Verbal Aptitude: Some people are gifted in manipulation of words. They can speak eloquently and convince others to agree with them.
  3. Numerical Aptitude: People who have numerical aptitude are very good in manipulation of figures. They include great mathematicians and computer scientists. Other people have aptitude for remembering numbers, dates, etc. There is also the aptitude for mechanic work, musical and artistic aptitude etc. Talents are also very close to aptitude. They are special gifts from God and quite natural. They need no training.
  1. Ability: It is a special power to do something well. It could be either physical or mental. People with physical ability are strong and enjoy doing physical activities such as sports etc. Those with high mental ability enjoy working with ideas and figures.
  1. Attitude: Attitude is simply our way of thinking, feeling or behaving. Our attitude to life can greatly affect our choice of career. Some people are care free and they can take anything that comes their way. While some others are very careful, choosy and will always look and hope for the best.
  1. Personality: Personality could be described as those qualities that make up a person’s character. They include cheerfulness, flexibility, intelligence and slyness, interest and ability. A psychologist, Holland, (1959) identified six personality types. These are Intellectual, Realistic, Social, Artistic, Conventional and Enterprising persons. Each of the above personality types matches certain occupations. We need to know our personality type in order to choose an occupation that will match it.
  1. Realities of our situation (Family Background): Some learners possess high intellectual ability but due to poverty in the family they may not be able to get formal education at all or may only receive to a minimum level that will not satisfy them if given opportunities, unless such learners get scholarship or sponsorship they cannot aspire for careers that require higher education.
  1. Academic Performance: This has a bearing on career choice. Some learners are not doing well in some subjects yet the career they want to pursue, require a credit pass in such subjects. Some others do not take their school work serious. Unseriousness about school work can jeopardize high career aspirations.
  1. One’s Working Environment: Many people have preferences for where they can work. Some do not mind where their job can take them to. An accountant once opted to teach because of urban problems evident in cities yet they cannot get a satisfying employment for their career unless they go to the city. One’s career may also not be in demand in environments where we hope to work. This and other things have to be considered before choosing a career.
  1. Needs: There are various needs in life which include social, physical or material. Many people choose occupations to meet their needs in pressing areas of life such as social, economic, religion, material and physical. Abraham Maslow (1963) identified six levels of needs (hierarchy of needs) ranging from physiological (basic needs) to safety & security, love and belongings; wholeness and integration, self-esteem and self-actualization.
  1. Prestige: Some learners choose subject combinations that would lead to some particular career purely for prestigious reasons. They want people to give them high regard and respect attached to specific careers, such as medicine, law and engineering. As a result, some leaners who are rather weak in Physics and Mathematics for example would still insist on taking the subjects in order to be able to announce their subject combination proudly as follows (Phy-Bio-Chem) i.e. Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Of course such students erroneously waste precious time where they do not belong.
  1. Peer Influence: Some other learners want to identify with their friends in the class. So, they choose subject combinations which lead to certain careers simply because a friend belongs to that particular group. Some young people in this category choose careers simply because they have seen others succeeding in them. Such young ones get easily carried away forgetting that there are individual differences existing in human beings. No two individuals are exactly alike not even the identical twins. It is good to have models but not being copycats with no initiative.

Rather than considering their own personality make up, young people tend to yield more to peer pressure, which more often than not yield negative result.

  1. Parental Influence: Some parents in our society dictate to their children the type of career to choose many learners have wasted several years battling with subjects they could not cope with in order to satisfy their parental desires. Parents want to be identified as successful through their children without any consideration of the children’s interest. These days’ parents are proud to be referred as the lawyer’s mother/ father, the doctor’s mother/ father (mama lawyer, papa doctor). They want to live their own lives through the children even when such children could not cope. Frustration and failure eventually result from such pressure. Parents could guide their children and assist them in making a career choice but NOT enforcing their own wish without considering the interest and personal ability of the child involved.
  1. Special Attractions: There are some special attractions in some jobs today which get our young ones carried away quite easily. Such attractions include fat salary and allowances, uniforms and other fringe benefits. No consideration is given to job satisfaction or the demands of such job! (Like being a banker and having to work till 8:00 p.m. some days).

The above reasons are some of the common factors that influence young ones these days in their career choice. This is why many people are dissatisfied, unhappy and frustrated with their jobs – because they did not receive any guidance.



As was stated earlier on, “the choice of an occupation is regarded as second most important decision”. This is becoming more complex in this modern time in our economy for the following reasons: According to Omoegun and Buraimoh

  1. Nigeria is a developing country with serious economic problem resulting to unemployment in various categories of occupation.
  2. The development in Science and Technology has led to new careers of which most people are not aware.
  3. Many people lack competence to access themselves for a realistic choice of career.
  4. Information about various occupations does not readily get to those who are contemplating the choice of career.
  5. Lack of job satisfaction is another issue that has thrown many people out of job.
  6. Parents, sometimes out of ignorance force careers on their children which becomes a problem or serves as a temporary setback for the children.
  7. The peer group has a great deal of influence on youth career choice. Many youth choose occupation simply because their friends have chosen such and they do not want to do anything different from their friends.
  8. Many youth set high vocational aspirations for themselves without possessing the necessary personal qualities to pursue such an occupation, and
  9. Inability of some youth to keep their career choice flexible has led to delays in getting admission and frustrations in meeting the requirements for the career of their choice.


Career and Job are often used interchangeably, yet they are two different words and things.

A Job is something one does in a short term to earn cash. It is filling a work role within a business exchange for money.

A career is a long-term pursuit of a life-long ambition. One may or may not need any particular education or special training to do a job, but career requires some sort of specialized training that develops an individual’s ability to do the work that career entails. In some cases, this training can come in the form of experience.

For example: being a photographer would be considered a career but working in a photo lab (something that will probably become extinct in the next few years) would be considered a job.

One doesn’t necessarily need to go to university or college to end up with a career – one can work one’s way up with lots of hard work.


One makes his/ her choice of career based on the following factors.

  1. Objective factor theory
  2. Subjective factor theory
  3. Critical contact theory.
  1. Objective Factor Theory: The applicant before making his/ her choice assesses the tangible benefits of the job such as the salary, other benefits, location, opportunities for career advancement etc.
  1. Subjective Factor Theory: The applicants must take into considerations the social/ psychological factors. This is the case whereby the status of the job, reputation of the organization and other similar factors play important role.
  1. Critical Contact Theory: The observations the applicant make while interacting with the organizations plays a vital role in deciding the work to do e.g. how the recruiter keeps in touch with the candidate, the promptness of responses and similar factors are important. This theory is more useful for the experienced professionals.

These theories in other words indicates that candidates have a free choice of employers and careers. However, the job scarcity and strong competitions for desirable jobs make the decision making impossible. Sometimes employees take up particular careers simply because they were forced to accept whatever work was available to them. So, when choosing a career that is best for you, one has to look at the natural talents work style, social interaction, work-life balance, whether or not you are looking to give back, whether you are comfortable in the public eye, dealing with stress or not, and finally, how much money you want to make. One may not likely to stick with that line of work for your entire life. One can make a smart-decision, and plan to re-evaluate down the line based on your long-term objectives.

Finally, for one to succeed in any given career, one must have passion.

  • Don’t base your career on money.
  • Listen to your parents and teachers.
  • Every career comes with its challenges but with determination, hard work and resilience, one will surely succeed.
  • Whatever choice one makes in life, make sure it reflects who one is.




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