Education and Career revision

A student wrote to me: “I graduated two years ago but could not find a job. I was ashamed as I have to depend on my parents. After many months looking for work, I felt depresses and did not know what to do with my life. I read your blog and wonder about the purpose of education and whether you have advice for me and people like me?

Answer: The school was the foundation structure that gives students direction as well as providing them with knowledge and skills. Today, after graduation, some students could not find work, feel lost, and do not know what to do because to some of them, the goal of education is limited to getting a degree but not something else. However, having a degree does not guarantee a job so they are confused and frustrated. The reason is the current education has failed to provide the proper career direction to its students.

Education is NOT only going to school, reading books, memorizing facts, passing exams but also learning about the world surrounding them, about a future career, the related industry, knowing the trends, the needs, and eventually, determine their roles in the society. An education does not end when people get a degree but understands their responsibility to themselves, their family, and their society. Even after having a job, they still have to continue to learn to keep their skills current with changes, else they will live in fear and worry about their job when their skills are no longer needed.

Students go to school to acquire certain knowledge so they can function well in the society but the current education does not teach them to think deeply, to plan for their future, to determine their career, to be responsible for themselves, for their family, their society and to deal with problems, which are a much larger part of life. The current education does not prepare students to get a purpose in life that goes beyond books and theories so they can take care of their living. Even in this fast-changing time, many people are still feeling comfortable by keep doing the same thing for many years. Some get promoted to a higher position without additional training, without learning to develop new skills as they let their old skills decline over time. When something happens to them, they blame the situation instead of themselves.

The best way to do now is to start with a sense of direction in your career. Do not think about the past and other mistakes that you have made but courageous willing to start from the beginning. You need to ask yourself about your interests, and preferences. What do you want to do with your life? Not just about getting a job but what career do you want to work on and the learning options that are available to you. You need to investigate the market trends and determine which career is best for you that fits your situation. You need to evaluate your current knowledge and skills to determine what you have and do not have then develop a learning plan to help you manage the new learning as well as the changes in your life.

This is the time of action so you will need to be realistic about your plans. You could ask yourself: “Where do I want to be? What do I want out of a career? What do I like to do? What are my skills? What new skills do I need to develop? By having the answers to these questions, you will have a clearer idea of your learning goal and preferences. You need to look at the job market and ask yourself: “What are the jobs that have high demand? Do I have the skills that fit these jobs? What are the gaps? What learning or training do I have to gain these skills for these jobs? What actions that I need to do now? Where can I get help? By having answers to these questions, you could take actions to revise your career with a new beginning and clear direction.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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