Career Counselling for Adolescents
Adolescents are faced with important choices as they progress through secondary schooling. After school, they need to move onto a job, or further education. Making that choice can be difficult, particularly if they have no experience with the world beyond school. Younger people may or may not have little work experience. Some may have a certain awareness from their parents, or from part time jobs; but many will have at best a vague idea of the possibilities that lie ahead.
Usual themes of career counselling for young people are:
- Occupational expectations and goals
- Interests and motivational questions
- Strengths and personal qualities
- Working and learning styles
However, while these themes are also important in counselling adults, their focus might be different when working with youth, or they may be explored in other ways more sensitive and relevant to the particular qualities and needs of youth. For instance, young people may need to develop greater awareness of both their own personal attributes and aspirations, and the realities of the local socio-economic environment.
The main goals of careers counselling for youth, therefore, are to help young people gain:
- Heightened awareness and understanding of own strengths, personal qualities and goals in connection to career options
- Heightened awareness of outside influences upon their present and future opportunities
- Improved job seeking skills
Decisions made in the teenage years often affect the rest of people's lives. Careers counsellors therefore need to help teenagers choose the study and career paths most likely to fulfill their ambitions and hopes.
Teenagers need to be provided with:
- objective, detailed information about their personalities, abilities and interests and advice on the implications these have for planning their future studies and career paths
- expert personal guidance enabling them to take advantage of developing educational and employment trends and to avoid foreseeable pitfalls.
It is always easier for individuals to work energetically towards their personal targets (e.g. examination success) if you they are confident that they have made the right decisions and can quickly remove any obstacles en route.
The careers counsellor can:
- help teenagers analyse their study and career issues more profoundly and so reach better, more personally committed decisions about their futures
- provide them with the encouragement and study or job-hunting advice which they need to realise their ambitions
Assisting Teenagers and Young People who are Undecided about their Future Direction
The counsellor can work one to one during something like a half-day meeting with the teenager. The aim is to discuss their education goals, career aims and personal circumstances in an unhurried but focused way. The counsellor can administer a series of personality, ability and interests questionnaires to help the individual plan the future. As mentioned previously, sometimes further training is required to administer these tests. Also, some tests are available freely, or for purchase, on the internet.
The counsellor will then analyse and interpret all this information in a full, written report answering any particular concerns raised by the teenager.
This report will provide:
- an extremely detailed, objective picture of the teenager and of their study and work-related strengths and weaknesses
- an assessment of the study and career development options open to them and advice on those which offer the best "fit" with their individual strengths and weaknesses, ambitions and personal circumstances
- brief advice on how to help them find and get jobs in the recommended careers after they have completed their studies.
Requests for more advice or information are generally met through a telephone service or additional meetings.
Further help (e.g. with CV preparation and interview practice) can be provided as an addition to such a programme.
Careers Counselling for Students
Study is often a challenging experience. Students sometimes find themselves in study programmes that do not fit them, and are faced with the decision to stay, drop out or to change programmes. Other students wonder where their programmes are leading and what job prospects there are. They may wish to discuss course choice linked to future outcomes and whether or not to pursue post-graduate studies. Careers Counsellors assist students to make appropriate career decisions and equip them with the skills to continue this process throughout their careers.
Other issues might include finding work overseas, how to approach employers and performance at a job interview. Careers Counsellors are available to assist with these and many other programme and career–related matters.
Counselling should help students:
- discover their current values, interests and abilities
- create a personal/professional development plan
- construct a professional looking resume
- develop improved interview techniques
- acquire knowledge and skills in job-search strategies such as networking.