What exactly is career counselling?
Career counselling is an organized methodology through which students and professionals can identify and take strides forward in their career. A career is a lifelong journey and career counselling should help you in creating better plans and paths in this journey.
What is the importance of career counselling?
Eduberance.com - With so many career choices available today it becomes really difficult to select the right career option. You may be aware of a lot of opportunities, yet there may be areas that are emerging and upcoming career options that you may not be aware of. A good career counselor will be able to identify the emerging career opportunities and recommend it to you if it is appropriate to your personality. The exorbitant cost of higher education coupled with the value of time for the younger generation totally justifies the need for career counselling for each and every student. Career counselling is an area of utmost importance as it affects the long term prospects of students, and has great implications for a nation too.
What is the right time to start looking for career guidance?
Usually children start imagining themselves as some professional by the age of 8 years. They start drawing inspiration from certain personalities or start to mimic and do role plays about certain professions. This just signifies that career selection has occurred to them naturally. Parents should note the early interests of their children and make arrangements to answer their queries related to these career options. They may be the seeds of lifelong careers and need to be nurtured. Grade 7th should definitely be a starting point for career selection, in case kids have not exposed themselves to information about careers before that. In most boards, subject selection starts from grade 8th onwards and having a fair idea of some top career choices will help kids to prepare better for subjects which will be essential for the choices that they make. By the end of grade 9th a student should have clearly identified the career stream and essential requirements for the top careers including major subject requirements, grade requirements, entrance examination and so on.
What is psychometric testing?
Psychometric tests are used to find the traits in human beings. These traits are broadly divided into 3 major categories. 1. Knowledge 2. Skills and 3. Dispositions.
1. Knowledge - There are several traits that are useful for particular careers. These traits are usually acquired through studying some subjects that are structured as per the requirements of the course or degree. Psychometric tests usually don’t focus on finding these knowledge sets alone and are conducted to find a mix of traits which may include finding knowledge about a particular subject. Usually knowledge tests are conducted with a timeframe which is smaller than the timeframe that would be usually enough to recall the knowledge one possesses about the subject. This is done to test the performance of knowledge retrieval under pressure which reflects a superior performance.
2. Skills - Psychologists have developed many skills testing psychometric tests to find if any individual possesses those skills, without having to wait for long periods of time to observe those skills in people. These tests are usually self assessment tests which people undertake in order to qualify for certain job requirements or qualifications to obtain a degree. These tests are also conducted along with knowledge tests to find if the individual possesses knowledge and skills required to perform the duties and functions of the concerned job. As most of these tests are designed scientifically after a lot of research, they do a great help in identifying skill sets as most questions are comparative in nature rather than definitive in nature. So through these tests one will be able to find out if someone has skills required to work in teams or would rather prefer to work in isolation.
3. Dispositions - Psychometric tests are most useful to find out disposition traits which are usually referred to as aptitude tests. These are not knowledge and skill tests but are more physiological in nature. They do not test the abilities or knowledge sets but rather help in identification of mindsets of people. They are the most difficult traits to find and thus these tests will be useful only if they are designed after through research and by experts in the field of psychology. Traits like personality traits which help in identifying if a person is more extroverted or introverted are found using these tests.
Are psychometric tests scientifically proven?
There are many sorts of psychometric tests. Most popular psychometric tests are well researched and are scientifically proven. Some psychologists have researched for decades before they have released their methodologies for conducting psychological tests. Carl Jung and his pioneering work in this field is definitely worth mentioning. Many modern tests on personality including the MBTI test have taken strong references from Jung's research. One needs to be sure about the research methodology and research before acknowledging it as a scientific psychometric test.
Is career counselling a scientifically proven process?
Career counselling is both an art and a science. Different career counsellors use different processes for counselling. Most counsellors rely on scientifically proven methods for career counselling and add their own experiences to create their own unique counselling process. Few counsellors engage in experiments and try to devise their own processes and methods for career counselling. However, one has to keep in mind that one is qualified to conduct these experiments. The qualification is generally a dual specialization in Psychology and a degree in medicine. Some may be “qualified” as they have done counselling using well thought out and research led methodologies for years and have created scientifically validated research processes.
What is the right way to choose a career after completing my 12th standard?
A career selection is a process which should start earlier than 12th standard. We recommend starting looking out for careers from 7th standard onwards. However, in case you are about to complete your 12th standard or have completed it already, you should immediately start this process.
There are many ways of doing career selection, what we recommend is that you start with your broad stream choices. This will take some time and you should spend time reading and researching about various streams and find out which streams are of interest to you.
You will also need to introspect about what your ambitions are and what sort of a lifestyle you want to have. You can refer to the Japanese concept of “ IKIGAI “ which helps you find the true purpose of life. No need to worry if you don't have all the answers, some people may not be able to find it in their lifetime.
Once you have some clarity on the sort of life you plan to live, and you have researched a few career options across different streams, it would be a good time to make a list of top 3 careers that you wish to pursue. Make a note of each career option and mention what you like about it.
Try to find more relevant information about each career option. You have already made a great start by looking for the right process. You can find more information about each career here. As we look forward to each student being able to identify and achieve their true potential, it would be worthwhile if you go to some other counselling sites and find out about their processes for career counselling and career selection.
You should also try to talk about your career choices and options with your parents, close friends and some progressive relatives too. Hear out what each one feels about each of your outlined career choices and ask them relevant questions. If they are able to help you with the answers do make a note in your career diary.
In case you or they still have some questions which you feel are unanswered and are important, it would be advisable to get the help of a professional career counsellor. You can find a list of career counselling experts here.
Now that you have identified the top 3 career options, dig deeper. Know all that you can about the courses that you need to complete in order to become a professional in the selected field. Look at the various options available for each course and make a note of the important points like the course duration, course subjects, course requirements etc.
There is some quick information available in this link related to courses. Do a comparison in terms of choice of subjects, credit system, majors and minors and combinations available, etc. Many courses are also offered in the integrated mode these days where you get the advantage of covering more ground and not having to appear for another college selection process after completing your graduation.
Do check out the integrated programs for your selected careers. Another very important item in your checklist for assessing courses should be the practical exposure or non theory time that you will spend in the course. This may be in the form of internships or apprenticeship during the course. Many professional courses are also available in the blended mode where you can pursue the course online and also take up a working assignment during the course itself.
The most important part of the process of career selection is the selection of colleges. The typical challenge of this part is that it is very difficult to get admission in the colleges of your choice. Like you, there are many other students who are also looking for getting admission in the top universities and colleges. They are making sure they do the right preparation and crack the entrance exams to get a seat of their choice in the institution that they have identified. Let us break down this challenge into smaller challenges so that you can overcome them one by one.
Since you would have already identified the courses of your choice as a part of this career selection process, the first step is to find if the college offers the course that you have identified. You may not always find the perfect combination of what you have identified earlier, however, it would be advisable to make a note of the discrepancies or gaps in the course of your choice and the course which the institution is offering. A great way to do this is to identify the must haves (subjects, duration, affiliation etc.) from your selection of courses.
In case the Institute that you are assessing lacks any of the must haves, then it would make sense to discard the institute and look for other great colleges that offer courses as per your selection. Sometimes you may find a newer curriculum or subjects that a particular college is offering and you feel would be good for your career, make alterations to your must haves in your course section to accommodate these new features or offerings. Once you are satisfied with the course offering by the institution, it is time to move to the other important parameters for college selection.
Faculty will be the most important piece of solving the puzzle of institute selection. Most leading institutions will have a stellar display of the faculty profiles on their communication channels including on the website and brochures.
Know about the campus life through photographs, videos and virtual walkthroughs. In case your college is near or in your city, it would make sense to make a campus visit to see the facilities and infrastructure first hand.
It would be a great investment of your time to find out about the connections of the institution with the corporates. One simple yet effective way to do this is to look at the calendar of events and find out what speaker profiles are being called to address these knowledge and skills based sessions.
Institutions with good connections will have a set of stellar speakers at guest lectures, knowledge and skill workshops and other important events like Annual days and convocation events. Aslo find if there are some corporate connections mentioned in the website of the college or in admission brochures. These connections will be useful for you to get internship opportunities and may also convert to placements.
You should find about the industries present in the city where the college is located. It will be very useful if there is a large number of reputable companies in the city or locality of your college. These companies should preferably be in the segments and be related to the course that you are enrolling for and there should be job opportunities in these companies for careers that you are opting for.
Talk to alumni, find out what companies they work for. Check out their portfolios if it is available online, look at the social media profiles of seniors and alumni. Does the college website have a section for alumni to login and keep in touch with the institution? While having a conversation with your college counsellor do find out ways in which you can interact with the alumni. Some of the leading institutions have a large and well connected alumni network.
There are special alumni connect initiatives by these institutions and they also allow current students to interact with the alumni through an organized process which benefits the students and gives a sense of gratification to the alumni. A great alumni network is helpful in multiple ways including sharing understanding of corporate and on the job requirements and experience sharing, help in finding internships and recommendations for placements. Some of the best corporations encourage their employees to find suitable candidates from their alma mater.
Facilities like affordable and safe Hostel facilities for students, Nearby shopping and fooding options, spaces to explore and spend relaxations time, weekend getaway destinations, great nightlife and cheap travel modes are some of the things to consider for assessing the city life of the college where you plan to do your graduate and postgraduate studies.
Research and Innovations
If you are looking for career options that involve research then you should be very selective about institutions and opt for ones that have great research facilities. How would you know that? Well you can look at the emphasis of research on the website of the college. Dig down a little deeper and it will be very easy to find out the quality of research and research methodologies of the institution. Read through the research papers recently published by the faculty of the institution.
The point to keep track here is recency and quality and not the number of research papers published. One you read through the abstracts, or the summary of the research papers, you will have an understanding of the research methodologies. In case you are not familiar with the terminologies then it would be a good idea to get started with the important keywords and topics that are of interest to you and start exploring and doing your own research.
Innovation is an outcome of research and process improvement using replicable processes and methodologies. Find out the recent developments in the field of your career study and know about the innovations that have come out. Have any of the faculty or alumni of the institution that you are interested in played an important role in the development of any of these innovations? What are the observations of the industry experts and critics on these innovations? These questions may help you to know more about the quality of research and innovation of your bookmarked institutions.
Awards and Recognitions
Awards and recognitions may be a very simple way to find out about the quality of the institutions. However, in today's world you have to be very careful in making the awards and recognitions as a criteria for college selection. There are numerous awards being floated around the world by companies that want to take some benefit in order to provide awards to institutions.
These benefits may be monetary in nature or there may be existing mutual benefits for granting of these awards and recognitions. We would not put too much weightage on these awards and recognitions unless they are given by non profit organizations of repute and relevance to the field in which these awards are being given.
There are several college ranking sites and publications. Some of them have been around for quite some time and are doing a fantastic job in guiding students in the right direction. Basically, all the points mentioned above and some more specific points related to the segment of institutions being ranked are used in different weightages to provide these rankings. The order of rankings help in a simple comparison across a large number of institutions that may be vying for your attention as even colleges are on the lookout for bright and capable candidates like you.
Most colleges share their information on a prescribed format as required by these ranking agencies to get their ranking. An important point to note is that some colleges may not participate in sharing their information with the ranking and thus, may not be a part of these rankings. However, if you are referring to the top rankings, there are slim chances of not finding the college of your choice in these rankings as these rankings have an extensive coverage of colleges and universities.
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