What is a Career?

Career is commonly understood to mean a profession or job that one does in a lifetime. However, career could be expanded to refer to all achievements and work accomplished over a lifetime. Career is, therefore, a very important aspect in an individual’s life as it reflects the purpose of life for which a person exists. Failing to develop one’s career would, therefore, imply a failure to fulfill the purpose for which one was born to accomplish.

How to Develop your Career

It is important to note that a career is developed over time and failure or success in this area will depend on the effort individuals would put in to discover and growth heir life purpose. A career path is influenced by several factors some of which are Internal and others External.

Internal Factors

These are inborn personal factors that individuals may have control over. Individuals only need to understand them and use them to align to the kind of career they want. Self-awareness is a key life skill that an individual may use in order get access to their unique characteristics to facilitate the choice of the correct career path. Self-awareness involves deep personal analysis of self to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness can also be explored by listening to feedback and comments from other people about who you are. Combining both what you think you are and what others tell you would widen your self-understanding and the unique characteristics you have that would make you successful in one career and not the other. Some of the internal factors that would affect one's career development include:


This refers to the enduring behavior patterns that we exhibit in different situations. Some individuals are introverts in that they feel comfortable to work in isolation and always draw their energy from within. They don’t like initiating conversations and find it uncomfortable to work with others. Other individuals are extroverts that is they feel comfortable to work in the company of others. These individuals draw their energy from others. They initiate conversations and are talkative most times. They are restless unless they are engaged in social activities. Certain careers would best fit people with introverted personality while others would fit people with extroverted personality. For instance, some of the careers that would rhyme with introversion would be engineers, mortuary scientists and intelligence specialists among others. Those that would require extroversion include journalists, lawyers, teachers and marketers among others. When an individual is aware of their personality, and choose a career that aligns with it chances of success are very high. However, choosing a career path that does not rhyme with one’s personality could lead to serious problems in the future.

Hobbies and Interest

These are activities that individuals enjoy doing especially during leisure time. They are significant indicators of the career path that one may succeed in. Engaging in a career that aligns with what one enjoys doing will make them successful in their career path. Many people have failed in careers because they are stuck in careers that they are not happy about which makes the less productive. It is important to do a self-analysis to understand the things one enjoys doing as they indicate the hidden special qualities that one may have. When engaging in these activities, individuals do not usually require supervision and choosing a career around such activities would mean high job satisfaction hence successful career.


It’s the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. To many people, intelligence has been mistaken to mean the ability to score high grades. However, it should be noted that scoring high grades that cannot be applied to solve society’s immediate needs is not intelligence. It would be more important to score low grades but with the ability to apply the little knowledge to meet societal demands than scoring high grades that one cannot apply need arises. Intelligence goes beyond grade to include talents and special skills that individuals have. It is important to note that every individual is intelligent in a certain way and only needs to discover and put it in practice. The types of intelligence include logical, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, bodily, and visual-spatial among others. Discovering your intelligence type would be of great importance in choosing a career path. For instance, a person with logical intelligence would be more successful in careers such as medicine, engineering, law and teaching careers among others. One with bodily intelligence would be more successful in sports and dancing careers among others. Those with linguistic intelligence would be successful in careers such as journalism, law, and marketing among others.

External Factors

These are environmental factors that individuals do not have much control over yet they still affect their career path or success. Individuals are required to interpret these factors correctly to enhance their career development. They include:

2.0.1 Family Background

The family shape is the basic unit of socialization that shapes how individuals view their world. The family gives us the world we want to move to and be like (role models). The family may also give individuals the world they want to run away from (painful life). Some individuals work so hard to live better lives than their parents free from suffering hence choosing careers that will facilitate this while others chose career paths that they have seen in their families.  Both backgrounds can be utilized to shape our career paths. It is important to be aware of your family background whether painful or comfortable and utilize it to shape your career path as no background is bad.

2.0.2 Market Dynamics

Prevailing market conditions could also shape a career. In a world where the market is liberal and regulates itself, it is important to analyze careers and try to predict where they will be in the next ten years. For instance, with the advancement in technology, some careers are constantly being rendered obsolete. For example, typewriter engineers, computer diskette developers and landline telephone engineers will not be required in the next few years as they have been overtaken by technology. Emerging societal problems could also be great indicators of market needs for certain careers. For instance, the rising number of wars, terror activities, and natural disasters could be indicators for the high demand for psychologists in the present time and future. When developing a career path, it is advisable to analyze the market and see the prospects of your career before investing time and energy in it.

2.0.3 Subjects Offered

Different schools offer different subjects. The absence of some subjects may narrow the chances of pursuing certain career paths. Wrong selection of subjects without prior knowledge of the career implication could also work against one’s career aspiration. Different career paths require different subjects for further training. However, it is important not to let subjects be the only factor in shaping your career but combine with other factors. Choosing subjects that conflict with the different career expectations can ruin your career path. Individuals need to make good decisions now to shape their career path rather than wait till after completion of school to start discovering the wrong choices they made on subject selection. Career choice is not an event but a process.

Emerging Trends in Career Development

 Recent developments and emerging societal demands are gradually shaping career development with new opportunities arising. It is now clear that new careers apart from the traditional ones are emerging. Learners now have a wider range of options to focus on when choosing their career path. Some of the emerging careers are:

Sports Science &Sports Management

Several universities have developed degree programmes to nurture the sports talents among young people. With sports being one of the highest paid careers in the world, individuals may consider pursuing a career path along this line. The minimum entry requirements include a score of C+ in KCSE with C+ in Biology and Chemistry.

Drama and Theatre Studies & Performing Arts, Film and Music

With the growing nature of the entertainment industry, universities have designed programmes to equip individuals who have career aspirations in drama, comedy, music dance and film among others. The entry requirements for this course are C+ in KCSE and C+ in English or Kiswahili.


Owing to the increasing number of natural disasters, terror activities, family conflicts and unstable political environments across the world, the demand for Psychologists is on the rise. Institutions such as schools, police stations, hospitals and churches among others are in dire need for psychologists. Individuals may pursue this career path whose minimum requirements include C+ in KCSE, and C+ in Biology, Mathematics or Physics and English or Kiswahili.

Dr. Stephen Asatsa

Lecturer of Psychology,

The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA)

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