Do You Really Need a Career Guidance Counsellor?
When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy. You’re young, you’re either still in school or freshly graduated, you’ve likely never had more than a part-time job while in school, and yet you’re expected to decide on what you want to do for the rest of your life! Okay, before you hit the panic button, take a deep breath, relax and seek out a career guidance counsellor.
Even if you have a reasonably good idea about what you want to do, it is worth spending time with a counsellor just to get an objective, non-biased opinion. Talking to friends and family is fine, but they can often give advice or opinions that leave you feeling even more confused than before!
If you are still in school, it is safe to say that you are probably aware of your school’s guidance counsellor. Most schools have them, whether they’re a permanent staff member or one who comes in once or twice a week. Their job is to help you navigate the confusing and sometimes downright frustrating work of choosing your direction in life. Unless you already know your counsellor reasonably well, which is more likely if they are a permanent staff member, your first couple of sessions may be more of a ‘getting to know you’ meeting. The counsellor is specially trained to ask specific questions to get an idea of the direction you may want to go in and also if your personality is suited to that field. You may think you want to be in the nursing profession, for example, but are you strong enough to deal with the often emotionally draining (not to mention physically demanding) shifts that the job requires? In addition to being asked to complete aptitude, skill and even IQ tests, being open and honest with a counsellor and knowing the right questions to ask will help them understand exactly what areas they need to concentrate on during each session.
If your assigned school counsellor is not quite the right fit (feeling at ease with any type of counsellor is essential) or if you are out of the school system, it will be necessary to seek out independent help. There are many available sources, but as with any professional service you will need to do some homework first in terms of ensuring the individual, or company they work for, is licensed and reputable. Check all their qualifications and get references that can be verified. Although you will have to pay for an independent service, they will often have additional resources and knowledge that benefits other areas of career guidance. For example, once a clearer idea is established of what you want to do, they can suggest certain training courses or internships that would help you advance in the chosen field. They can also help you compose a great cover letter and resume that will get you noticed and even coach you on acing an interview.
While you may not end up with a clear cut decision about a lifelong career, by taking full advantage of a career counsellor you will at least be setting off down the right path. The greatest journeys start with a single step!