Why Career Counselling Is Important For Students

The class 12 results are out. So, what’s next for your child? Not sure? While advice from elders and well-wishers is welcome, guidance from a career counsellor is scientific and reliable.

By Arundhati Swamy

Why Career Counselling Is Important For Students

Career counselling for your child involves two important aspects: looking inwards to discover unknown yet important facets of her personality that will play a very crucial role in choice of career and job satisfaction; and looking outwards to seek information and understanding about the world of work.

Career assessment involves using a set of tools to build your child’s career profile. The process includes open conversations, specially designed worksheets and activities, and standardised questionnaires and assessments. As your child goes through the process, he will feel enriched by the experience of self-discovery.

Your child can opt for either an in-depth self-exploration combined with a formal assessment or a single computerised assessment that includes both. However, the goals of both the approaches are similar — to help a child discover his core interests, skills, personality traits and aptitude.

Career counselling assumes great significance in the current context. The multitude of choices and opportunities available today, the pressure to follow parent’s wishes, the influence of peers, popular current trends and social status, and the desire to follow one’s career compass — all these factors can leave a young teen feeling quite confused. Added to this are the social, economic, cultural, technological and environmental changes that make future predictions fairly uncertain. Experts say that many jobs that will come up in the future don’t exist as yet. And, many of today’s jobs that would still exist in the future would be transformed beyond recognition. Within this complex context, what does career counselling mean and what can it offer?

  1. Career counsellors vary in their approach and style. The number and duration of counselling sessions depend on the career programme being administered. So, it’s a good idea to look into the details of the programme ahead of your child’s first appointment and check for references with fellow parents. Also, check and ensure that the career counsellor has the right credentials and training.
  2. Many parents and children believe that they must prepare for the counselling session, much like they would for a test or examination. This is a myth. An open mind, with lots of questions and enthusiasm are all your child needs to bring with him to the session.
  3. The counsellor may choose to spend a few minutes together with you and your child before proceeding to work individually with the child. Thereafter, your child and the counsellor would work together.
  4. The counsellor will administer questionnaires and/or conduct other interactive exercises. The general conversations and guided activities will keep your child’s interest levels high. Most importantly, the counsellor will help your child gain new insights about herself, become more self-aware and understand herself better. So, a counselling session is also a deep self-exploration experience.
  5. Typically, the career counsellor will build your child's career profile based on aspects of his Personality and Aptitude. Personality test questions can help identify areas of work your child is most suited to and how his behaviour would enable him to work alongside others. An aptitude test, on the other hand, would identify your child’s strongest cognitive abilities and link them to careers that require those specific abilities.
  6. Once the career personality and aptitude test results are tabulated and analysed, the career counsellor will share the results in a joint session with you and your child. The counsellor will offer a detailed explanation of the analysis, answer all the questions and suggest recommendations based upon the results. The counsellor will also consider your family background while charting out a career path that is most suitable for your child, including courses and institutions for higher studies.
  7. Ask your child to talk to individuals who are working in fields recommended for your child by the career counsellor. This will help her get a broad understanding of the various fields, their nuances, challenges and potential for growth and success.
  8. Encourage your child to engage in research for a deeper understanding of the curriculum or fields recommended by the counsellor. The process will help her ask relevant questions, analyse the pros and cons, and get her deeply involved.
  9. Besides working with the counsellor, also motivate your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. It’s the best way to learn life skills and work skills such as planning, organisation, decision-making, time management, teamwork, research and using technology.
  10. When you and your child opt for the services of a career counsellor, it’s important to put aside your personal opinions and be open to the recommendations offered at the end of the sessions.

Ideally, both the parents and child should decide together on which career to choose. But, at the same time, it’s not always easy for parents to accept a career choice that is unusual, off the beaten track and unfamiliar. So, share your thoughts and feelings with your child, but not to influence her decision. In fact, making your child aware of your apprehensions can serve to keep her committed and mindful of her responsibilities towards herself.

The career counselling experience can prove to be an eye-opener for both the parents and the child. The process must help build mutual respect for each other, open minds to newer possibilities and build trust and an attitude of optimism. If you are satisfied with the whole process, it’s best to follow up on the counsellor’s recommendations and keep in touch for continued guidance. And, do keep in mind that, your child needs your support, not just financial but emotional as well, to keep her highly optimistic and motivated.

About the author:

Written by Arundhati Swamy on 8 May 2019.

Arundhati Swamy is a family counsellor and Head of the Parent Engagement Program at ParentCircle.

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