Career Counselling has come a long way since its inception. The field in itself is evolving quickly, thanks to the fast-paced world we live in. New technologies are being brought in to existing professions, the art and media boom has given birth to career opportunities which were non-existent ten years back.
Information is readily available on your fingertips; there is no dearth of opportunities. Surrounded by such overwhelming options, this generation of professionals faces quite a peculiar dilemma, how to make sense of the choices available to them, where to begin, and what path to choose?
This is why career counsellors play an important role in a student’s academic and professional life. With the advent of online courses and certifications, there has been a steady increase in the number of people opting for career guidance as a profession. It has now become imperative that counsellors have the right combination of tools, courses and tests at their disposal, which can best guide students through different career crossroads.
As per the India Skills Report 2018, around 85% of higher education students are not prepared to make career choices. The gap that counsellors need to fill in between students, aspiring professionals and their dream career is quite evident.
Here are 5 services, a career guidance counsellor should have in their arsenal, that would set them apart in the marketplace:
Invest in Reliable Psychometric Tests
Owing to the numerous options available today, for many people determining their own likes and dislikes, interests, life goals seems like an insurmountable task. They might not be even aware of their own potential skills that could help them excel in a professional work environment.
In a Psychometric Test, an applicant answers a series of questions that could be intellectual, logical, numerical, verbal, personality/skill-based and more. Depending on the type of test taken by the applicant, the results might help bring forth their interests, strong points and areas of development. These tests are widely used and accepted by colleges and many companies worldwide.
It is of course not a magic tool that is somehow capable of revealing one’s life purpose. But it will surely give results based on the current strength and weaknesses points of the candidate, their personality, their learning speed, their adapt ability in a professional setup, and their ability to handle stress
In short, it will provide you with a sneak peek into what a person is really made of.
Here are some of the Benefits of Psychometric Tests:
- A better understanding of the candidate. Personality tests or the Ideal career tests can help the counsellor, gauge a candidate’s interests and potential. This information can further be used to align an applicant’s interests and professional career choice.
- The tests are completely unbiased. It is human tendency to form opinions about the opposite person but, it is important for a career guidance counsellor to not let their personal opinions cloud their judgment. Psychometric Tests ensure the result is based entirely on the answers given by the applicant thus, keeping the process fair.
- It is a cost-efficient process. There are a number of budget Psychometric Tests tools available in the market today, that can help determine the stream or branch a student is best suited for. An in-depth personality test may be on the higher end but, the results they provide prove to be extremely beneficial.
Career counsellors can invest in these tools, to streamline the process of assessing candidates and save time, which can be better utilized in coaching students. The budget of these tools may vary depending on the type of tests and the areas they focus on. From an investment point of view, tools that can provide accurate and reliable results like the Psychometric Tests can pay for themselves in the long run.
Guide Candidates in Applying And Choosing The Right Internships or Summer Programs
Internships are an excellent program through which students are acquainted with a professional working environment. They also get the opportunity to work under the guidance of industry experts, improve their technical and soft skills. Nowadays companies are also offering virtual internship programs wherein students can balance their academics along with gaining industry experience. As a counselling consulting firm, you could also start building your network with companies providing internships.
85% aspirants, according to the India Skills Report 2018, acknowledged that internships in different sectors along with their education helped them make better and informed career choices.
A guidance counsellor can help the candidate shortlist the best summer programs or internships that align with their higher education or career goals. This alignment with goals is essential as it does not make sense for a student with animation as their interest to take up an internship as a writer. A summer job or an internship should be taken with the aim of improving one’s skills and understanding the industry better, rather than having a fancy work experience for the sake of the resume.
Here are some key reasons why you should consider taking up a summer job or internship:
- They give a clear picture in terms of roles and responsibilities entailing a particular job title.
- Students also get a chance to put their soft skills to test and improve as per the feedback received.
- Internships can help boost the confidence of the students and motivate them to perform better both in studies and work.
- A successfully completed internship adds a plus point to your application. It can give you an edge when applying for colleges or prospective companies.
- From a personal perspective, the students can decide if their interests and skills truly lie in the industry they worked for or a different sector would work better as per their ambitions.
Internships, all around the world, have a notorious reputation of being unpaid labour work. There have been instances when internships have overshadowed the degree and students have lost focus on the actual goal. Yes, successful completion of internships will give an edge to a student’s application but, they also need to clear their examinations and also score the required amount of marks.
Follow up sessions with students can help in this case. A counsellor’s duty is to ensure that students don’t lose sight of their actual goals. Internships can only be useful, if the students are actually learning something in the process and are exposed to different industry standards and work cultures.
Become an Expert in One Particular Area Of Career Counselling
Career counselling as a whole, right from to start to finish is a vast ocean of opportunities. The choice is up to the individual whether they want to be the jack of all trades or a master in one area.
Below are some areas of career counselling that one can choose to build their expertise on:
As mentioned above, these tests help a counsellor understand their candidate better. There are various types of these tests available:
- In-depth personality tests
- Ideal career tests
A counsellor can be an expert on these tests, analyzing the results and accordingly suggesting different career options.
College Admission Guidance
Again there are different processes and rounds involved in securing a seat at any prestigious college.
The SOP – Statement of purpose is like an introductory letter to the college admissions office.
Then comes the LOR – Letter of Recommendation, which can be written by the student’s professors, or a supervisor in case of any work experience involved.
There is the application form that needs to be filled accurately and sent before the mentioned deadlines.
College essays are one of the important deciding factors for admissions.
Then there are verbal rounds like debate and if selected in the initial phase, face to face interviews as well.
A counsellor can build their expertise on guiding students to come up with exceptional essays, improve on their non-verbal skills. Also help in improving their verbal communication and better prepare them for interviews.
Student Visa Process
Once a student has secured his or her seat in an overseas college, the visa process is a different game altogether. With the current socio-economic environment over the world, the visa process is evolving and new rules are being enforced on a frequent basis.
Depending on the country and the course a student applies for, they might be required to pay the application fee and also 60% of the course payment well in advance, even before they enter that country.
If the student wishes to work in the country while pursuing their degree, there are additional rules to be followed. Certain countries limit the number of hours and the type of work students can undertake.
A counsellor will have to keep abreast with the new Visa rules being introduced. Students can come up with college essays on their own but, when it comes to the Visa process majority of them tend to rely on experienced professionals from beginning to end.
Provide a Step By Step Approach to Get Into Prestigious College
There are a number of factors involved when zeroing in on a degree, college and the country to pursue it in. Colleges look at an applicant’s entire educational background, extracurricular activities, certifications, internships and more. The financial background of the sponsor also plays a pivotal role. All these factors need to be considered and planned well before time.
A career counsellor providing the complete package, right from entrance exams, Psychometric Tests, helping pick the best summer programs, college admission guidance, finance management advice, personalized follow up sessions, will always have the edge over the competition in the industry.
Personalized college roadmaps can be one of the key drivers for a career counselling firm. Every student, though some of their interests may overlap, is different. Scoring the same marks on an arithmetic test is not a determinant of the same career option for two different students. Their interests and personality traits should also be considered. It is definitely hard work, but a personalized approach is what builds confidence in students and parents alike. As a career counsellor you are bringing value to the table rather than merely suggesting colleges based on test scores.
The benefit of providing start to end approach for colleges is that it builds a sense of trust amongst the student and the counsellor. This roadmap ensures the counsellor is a one-stop solution for all the queries they might have. Right from the programs they can invest in, how to submit their portfolios, the selection process of their dream college and so on. Successful applicants can be great testimonials for your consulting firm. You can use this success to build and expand your business and help a lot more students make their dreams a reality.
Building a portfolio from an early stage can also make the student eligible for a scholarship. College essays play an important role in this process. Also, there are multiple avenues where a student can apply for a scholarship. A career guidance counsellor can help chart out a path that would make a student’s application stand apart from the competition.
Use technology to your advantage when laying out the path to success for students. There a number of tools available online that help to determine a student profiles current score and the score required by their dream college. Once a student profile’s current score is known, you can then chart out the areas that would need development.
Coach Others in the Field of Career counselling
93% of Indian schools do not have access to career counsellors. For India to get on par with other nations like the United States, a minimum of 14 lakh career counsellors and career counselling need to be made available to meet the requirements of more than 315 million students.
It cannot be stressed enough, how important is the role of career counselling in a student’s life in today’s day and age. There is tremendous competition in the medical and engineering fields. There is an awareness coming about in students and also the parents as to different viable career options available these days but albeit the process is slow.
Students are slogging away preparing for some of the toughest entrance exams around the world, without even taking a minute to analyze whether their interests, skills and potentials align with the career path they have decided to walk on. This eventually leads to professionals leading an uneventful, stressed, frustrated and unsatisfied work lives.
Career counselling should be considered as a moral obligation on the parents and the schools part, rather than treating it as a luxury.
There are various career counselling courses available in both classroom and online formats. As a fresher, an individual can first apply for a basic career counselling course or certification. Once they have gained on-field experience, they can use their experience and expertise to train other individuals in their craft.
From a business perspective, setting up your own career counselling firm is an excellent opportunity. The Career guidance and counselling industry in India is currently estimated at INR 5000 Crore and it is growing steadily. People are warming up to the idea of counsellors, and the sort of impact they make on their children’s lives. This demand is especially growing in Tier 2 and 3 cities of India.
To begin with, if you are not completely sure about all the processes involved in getting a student to their dream college, then start small. Pick one area, build your expertise, for example, it could be the entrance tests, college applications, essays eventually moving on to visas and finance management.
To build a successful career as a guidance counsellor it is essential that they keep learning, reading, improving their communication skills and staying on top of current trends, policy changes and keep their knowledge up to date. Apart from the technical skills, being empathetic towards students and parents is a key soft skill they need to develop.
A career counsellor might have to deal with people from all sorts of backgrounds. The career counselling industry is for sure growing but, for a majority of people this is still a new concept and they might be hesitant to invest in these tests and also be skeptical of the results they provide. Accepting the fact that your child might be better suited for an Art stream instead of Engineering is still a tough pill to swallow for many Indian parents.
In such situations, the responsibility of the career counsellor takes on a whole new meaning. It is not just about giving out the test results but, also making the parents understand how the test works and why giving the results a serious thought is imperative for their child’s future.
If you were looking to take the leap of faith in the field of career counselling, there is no time like the now. Millions of students all across the country can make informed career decisions, thanks to career counselling, which will eventually lead to them living fuller, satisfied and enriched professional and personal lives.