System of Career Choices


Early education plays an important part in a child’s life as it exposes the child to various fields and helps him or her choose a domain that he or she wants to build a career in. However, 1 out of 3 people are unhappy with their choice of career they’ve taken at an early age. Lack of knowledge plays an important role when it comes to these wrong career choices.

1 out of 3 people are unhappy with their choice of career taken at an early age.

In this project, we look at how a seemingly personal choice of selecting an individual’s career path is actually part of a large system involving various stakeholders with very specific motivations and biases. Thus, our objective with this project was to map out this system and see how implementing changes on a macro level can trickle down to effect better decision making at an individual level.

Shiksha is a project aimed at studying the state of the education system in the country and speculate where the system is headed. The project also attempts to explain how small changes can have a much larger impact on a system.


System Thinking

For years, designers have been accustomed to a very reductionist approach while solving user problems. While this approach works for simple everyday products, the same approach cannot be applied to large complex social, political and environmental issues. This is where system thinking helps us understand and deal with problems in these domains.

Systems thinking is a mindset where we see complex problems as a series of inter-connected and inter-dependent systems. It is a holistic approach to understand the macro and micro level relationships between various stakeholders of a system.

Understanding The System


Due to lack of knowledge of other career options, most of the students end up choosing careers in the medical or engineering fields. As there are a large number of students that graduate every year and opt for careers in these fields, there has been a massive problem of over-employment and a saturation of talent in these domains.

93% of Indian students are aware of just seven career options. Meanwhile, 86% of students are very concerned about choosing the right career and 92% hardly get any career guidance.

Youth in the age group of 15-29 years comprise 27.5% of the population. At present, about 34% of India's Gross National Income(GNI) is contributed by the youth of this age.

For a country with the world’s largest student population, there is a huge shortage of career counselors. A key reason for this mismatch can be traced to a traditional lack of understanding about its importance.

Stakeholder Systems

The system of a career choice is a result of all the decisions and motivations of its stakeholder systems, which are driven by their own distinct motivations and biases. Understanding these factors helps us gain a holistic knowledge of the given problem of how a career choice is made.

System Emergence

To understand the system deeply, it is important to look at how the key stakeholders affect a students’ choice of career. We interviewed the stakeholders to get a better understanding of how they are connected to each other.


Parents usually push their kids towards careers that they are sure is the path to a successful life. The parents make career choices for their children with the goal that their child will not have to struggle too much to be successful.

Parents create a safety net based on their own experiences for the child which stops him or her from exploring and taking risks.


It is believed that because our genes have a strong effect on our preferences, some individuals may be better suited towards a particular career path than others. Adolescence is a turning point in a childs' life, physically and mentally. It is the most rapid phase of human development.

Adolescence is when usually a child starts drifting away from the parents. This is when friends become a bigger influence than parents.

Peer Groups

Friends greatly influence your choices. A study found that you are likely to start acting like the people you surround yourself with. Friends often influence the subjects a student selects after 10th grade. Friends also influence a child's social status. This means a lot of the choices a child makes are heavily influenced by his/her friends' opinions.

In the adolescent phase, the child finds himself/herself in a position where they have to choose and simultaneously get chosen in a certain peer group that they think is perfect for them. These groups have a strong influence on their career path.


From the moment the child is born, he/she is exposed to various things which shapes the way they grow up. A child makes his or her career decision based on the things he/she is exposed to. Children are exposed to the world through various mediums such as books, the internet, friends, television and so on.

The wrong kind of exposure can be very misleading for children at a young age, especially when it plays such an important role in informing their choices. Great care has to go into ensuring that children are exposed to the things that will help them make healthy choices.

Social Status

Humans are social beings. Everyone wants to be in the top tier of society, although everyone has a different perception of what social status means.

Parents nudge their children into choosing a career that is socially acceptable.

Children today have the added worry of maintaining their social media presence. Technology has thus played a very important role in the influence that people have over one another.


Parents blindly trust schools with their children.

A school is a stepping stone for a child towards the real world. It’s where a child gets
exposed to a variety of domains like sports, politics, environment, society, culture and so on. It acts as a buffer between the comfort of the house and the real world. Schools are also where children first make friends and begin to get exposed to different opinions. Thus, the need to fit in starts at a young age for children.

Preferences towards certain teachers can also lead to an interest in the subject that they teach. This subject may or may not be in the childs' best interests.

Schools thus act as a common ground between all influencing stakeholders of the career choices system. It becomes the ideal gateway to enter the system and start making changes that influence career choices.


Future Landscape

After unearthing key behaviours that define the relations between each stakeholder, we study larger macro-economic trends to predict their effects on these behaviours and how they might change, thereby speculating a future landscape. This helps us understand how the system will behave in such a future and lets us design holistic solutions that can affect career choices.

Increase of communication gap between parents & children

Increasing peer influence.

Changing definition of social status amongst GenZ.

Lack of reality check due to increasing importance of social media.

School curriculum keeping up with the industry.

Equal respect for all subjects.

Design Intervention

After the predicting the behaviours, we saw the opportunity of intervening in this system through schools, as it is the most trusted entity by both parents and children.The idea is to create a school where failures can be fostered and mentored and students can take risks freely.


This project was important for us as the mindset of system thinking changed the way we saw any domain. Problems were not just constricted to a single domain but are affected by many interconnected systems. This holistic way of thinking helped us come up with solutions that cater to each stakeholder in the system.