In Focus: Career Counseling As A Career Option

Posted on August 26, 2010 in Alternative Careers

By Y.Modini:

Often, we find the career related queries in newspapers, magazines and even the live conversations on radio and various television channels. Career counseling is the process of helping an individual in their career choices. Counseling and guidance can be provided in the best way possible through direct face-to-face interaction but other options like telephone or the internet are mediums of such interactions as well. An educational counselor is generally concerned with issues such as emotional adjustment or study problems of a student while a career counselor handles clients who are making career decisions and choices or coping with changes which relate to their working life — career changes, redundancy and unemployment.

Career counselors need to have detailed information of every occupation, but should at least know in broad terms as to how one occupational field such as finance or medicine differs from one another and their client’s suitability to each. They should especially be aware of the different levels (specialist, skilled or semi-skilled) of jobs within each field to cater to all kind of clients. Providing a client with accurate, up-to-date and relevant information is crucial to career guidance. For example, if a client finds his/her goal of entering an engineering college unattainable, knowledge of other fields given by the career counselor could be used to generate equally interesting and suitable alternatives. Even at the initial stage of mapping out one’s career, consulting a professional helps in giving consideration to all professions, widening one’s scope and then selecting the best with other alternatives within reach.

In fact, career counseling spans both the internal psychology of the person and the external contexts of education and employment. Thus, it is very important to know about the client’s psychological aptitudes and areas of interests. For this, career counselors may use aptitude, logic and interest tests in interviews and counseling sessions. This facilitates a more accurate process of career selection.

Career counselors are generally used as of help to people at two stages — in schools and after college graduation. Such a counselor in school should be able to help students evaluate their abilities, talents, interests and personality characteristics to develop realistic academic and career goals. After college, a career counselor would help individuals make career decisions once going over and evaluating the client’s education, training, work experience, interests, skills and personal traits. The counseling packages often include training to give job interviews and design résumés as well.

Understanding and empathy are the two primary qualities of a career counselor, which stand him in a good stead. All of you, who aspire to become a career counselor should have a strong interest in helping others and capacity to inspire respect, trust and confidence. The counselor’s manners must be caring and give complete attention to the client and his or her values (without allowing the counselor’s own feelings to get in the way of maintaining objectivity). You should also be able to assimilate and organise a large amount of constantly changing information in the present scenario.

A post-graduate course in guidance and counseling, post graduation in Psychology with specialisation in counseling or educational psychology or M. Ed with specialisation in educational and vocational guidance are typical training possibilities is what is required to enter this field.

In the last decade or so, there has been a gradual shift in emphasis from manufacturing sector to the services sector; at the same time, a large number of new job opportunities have been created which had not existed earlier in our country. These changes and the ever widening range of new courses have made it impossible for students, teachers and parents to maintain a current information base of options. They all are confused by various reports of encouraging prospects in some industries and slowdown in others. In this scenario, career counseling and guidance has assumed an even greater importance than ever before. A helping hand is required to lean on when venturing into the big bad commercial world; we need direction. The maps are being handed out at your nearest counseling centre.