Career Counseling – A New Age Career
Usha Albuquerque & Nidhi Prasad
It is said that there are two critical decisions we take in our lives. One is the choice of a life partner, and the second, the choice of a career or profession. These two important choices determine whether we will be happy and successful in life, or not. And while we give ample time, attention and expenditure to the first, very often little thought is given to choosing a career
A career decision is made on the basis of unrealistic professional aspirations, inadequate knowledge, parental and societal pressures and emotional factors that should rightly be irrelevant to this decision. Our society is specifically one that finds no child worthy unless he can become a doctor, an engineer, business manager or a chartered accountant, ignoring the fact that each individual is unique in abilities, values, interests and personality styles, and could be eminently successful in anyone of thousands of work opportunities that exist today.
As career opportunities explode and the demands and needs of young people increase, career counseling has gained importance and popularity. It is now readily accepted as an objective and professional source of advice to help any individual explore, pursue and attain their career goals.
WHAT IS CAREER COUNSELING?
Career Counseling is a process that helps you to know and understand yourself and the world of work in order to make informed educational, work and life decisions. Career development is more than just deciding on a major and what job you want to get when you graduate. It is a comprehensive, developmental program designed to assist individuals in making and implementing informed educational and occupational choices. Professional counselling can improve the performance of students to a great extent, so as to enable them to grow physically, mentally and emotionally with the knowledge and freedom to make informed career choices. A career guidance and counseling program develops an individual’s competencies in self-knowledge, educational and occupational exploration, and career planning.
Career counselors help students evaluate their abilities, interests, talents, and personality characteristics so that they can develop realistic academic and career goals. Counseling is aimed at helping them understand what is going on and enable them to make their own choices, reach their own decisions and to act upon them accordingly. It is a lifelong process of getting ready to choose, choosing and continuing to make choices from among many occupations available.
Career counseling basically consists of four elements:
1.Helping individuals to gain greater self-awareness in areas such as interests, values, abilities, and personality style.
2.Linking individuals to job opportunities, information and resources so that they can become more knowledgeable about jobs and study paths.
3.Engaging students in the decision making process in order that they can choose a career path that is well suited to their own interests, values, abilities and personality style
4.Assisting individuals with job search strategies, including managing career changes and transitions, and professional development.
A counselor uses a range of counseling approaches. They use interviews, counselling sessions, tests, or other methods when evaluating and advising students. They may operate career information centres and career education programs. They advise on college majors, admission requirements, entrance exams, and financial aid. They help students develop job-finding skills such as resume writing and interviewing techniques. Career counsellors can also specialise in employment and placement counselling to assist students with career development and in locating and applying for jobs.
A counselor works with people from all walks of life in varying ages and from different family situations and culture. Most schools have a career counselor, or at best a school counselor who can also handle career guidance for students. Career counselors can also work at counseling centres open to students and individuals at different stages of their careers. Career decision-making is not something that happens only once in a person’s life but, is an ongoing process that might take place at any age.
Areas of work in Career Counselling Psychological Assessments to Determine Aptitude and interests : Career counselors conduct a variety of aptitude and career assessment tests. These tests are designed to match a students’ natural skills, strengths and abilities with key components of specific careers. Having this information ahead of time can be invaluable when choosing a career path.
Career Information: A career counselor must have up-to-date information on career trends, job opportunities so as to help with career planning with realistic career goals that match the individual. Such information is normally accessed from books and videos, newspapers, online sites and other material that provides information on jobs, educational requirements, remunerations, and descriptions of the work.
Job Search Support: The career counselor is an invaluable source of support and encouragement for those looking for jobs. Career counselors often offer cover letter, resume and interviewing services in conjunction with their counseling services
For a career in counseling, after 10+2 it is best to take up subjects like psychology, sociology, social work etc for graduation, followed by post graduation in counseling, There are no specific courses in career counselling, but most courses in guidance and counselling cover career counselling as well Counsellors with a background in psychology are ideally suited to take up this career, as their knowledge and insight into human behaviour helps them understand better the problems of their clients. Teachers with some years of experience can also take up career guidance and counseling.
Candidates who have Master’s degree in any area are eligible to apply for Diploma Course in Counseling, but some institutes prefer students with psychology background. The duration of the course varies from 1- 2 years. Those having a graduation in Psychology can opt for PG Diploma Courses. Besides regular studies, most courses in counseling and guidance are also offered as part time as well as correspondence.
SKILLS REQUIRED TO BE AN EFFECTIVE COUNSELOR
*Communication Skills: Effective counselors should have excellent communication skills.
*Patience: A counselor needs patience with clients as it may take time to react and give considered thought to suggestions made.
*Good Listener: Counselors spend a significant amount of time listening to their clients, time to express their story and their feelings. Counselling requires more listening than talking.
*Non-judgmental: Counselors hear all kinds of private information and encounter all types of people. Emotional stability and maturity is therefore required to handle the career problems of others. Multicultural competency is also an asset.
*Sensitive & perceptive: Counsellors should have a strong interest in helping others, be sensitive and perceptive in assessing people and be able to inspire respect, trust, and confidence.
*Research-Oriented: Career counselors need to be well informed and constantly updating their information on study and career options.
*Encouraging: The ability to encourage is important for a counselor. Many clients are struggling to find hope in their situation. One of the primary jobs of a counselor often involves instilling hope in an individual.
Most career counselors work in schools and educational institutes, or with career and study advisory services. They advise on college majors, admission requirements, entrance exams, and financial aid.
They can also work with career information centres and career education programs.
They help students develop job finding skills such as resume writing and interviewing techniques.
Career counsellors can also work with recruitment agencies and specialise in employment and placement counselling to assist students with career development and in locating and applying for jobs.
With the increase in overseas education, career counselors have also been advising students on choice of study course, institute and country, as well as assisting in the application process.
WHY CAREER COUNSELING IS IMPORTANT?
Although career guidance is increasingly gaining in importance, particularly in metropolitan areas, there remains limited awareness about career planning in large parts of the country, and because of which out of the 30 million who graduate every year - 20% are unemployed and most often, unemployable. At the same time there are thousands of jobs without suitable applicants. Trained career counselors providing appropriate career counseling could help fill this gap.
Moreover, with myriad avenues of work popping up every day, students get confused and make incorrect choices that not only affect their lives, but also queer the pitch as regards development of trained professionals for the country’s manpower requirements.
Having a professional advisor to assist with deciding what strengths and talents can be developed for a meaningful and satisfying career is of vital importance, and can be a challenging and profitable career for many.
LIST OF INSTITUTIONS – Some institutes that offer Post Graduate Diploma courses in Guidance & Counseling are:
*National Council of Education and Research Training –NCERT, New Delhi www.ncert.nic.in
*Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Tamil Nadu (M.A. Career Counselling) www.rgniyd.gov.in
*Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)- www.ignou.ac.in
*Amity University, Noida - www.amity.edu
*Jnana Prabodhini’s Institute of Psychology(JPIP) Pune
*Jamia Millia Islamia University , Delhi - www.jmi.ac.in
*Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu - annamalaiuniversity.ac.in
“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.”
Usha Albuquerque is Director and Nidhi Prasad is Head, North Delhi Branch at Careers Smart Pvt. Ltd