Choosing a career path to work towards is one of the most important choices a student can make. This choice will help determine what they study at university, what activities they pursue alongside their education, what personal skills they invest in building and many more. And a successful career doesn’t just eventually lead to financial stability for those who achieve it—it also enables greater personal well-being and fruitful interpersonal relationships.
A career counsellor’s job is to help students identify their ideal careers and determine the best steps to take toward those careers. Effective career counselling incorporates the following basic practices:
Pinpoint Their Strengths and Interests
Students know that one of the keys to building a fulfilling career is finding a job they can both enjoy and excel at, but they don’t always know what such a job might look like. To determine the kinds of jobs in which a particular student might thrive, start by identifying what they’re good at and what they’re interested in. One of the ways you can do this is by administering a psychometric test.
Psychometric tests use psychology-based questions to create a comprehensive picture of the test-taker’s personality, skills and possible areas of interest. Some tests measure a person’s aptitude for particular professions based on their answers. While no test can completely guarantee a student’s success in a certain field, they do provide students with a valuable starting point when it comes to contemplating their career options. They also help students understand themselves better overall, which will be valuable not only for career selection but also for other major life decisions going forward.
When interpreting test results with students and engaging in career counselling in general, it’s always a good idea to encourage them to play to their strengths and pursue careers that align with these. However, it’s equally important not to discount passions and interests that a student may not have as much natural aptitude for but cares deeply about. Strive to strike a balance between offering practical options and encouraging students to extend themselves further in pursuit of their goals.
Identify Training and Education Opportunities
Once your students have identified a few possible career paths they’d like to explore, work with them to determine whether they can reach those goals most efficiently through full-time education, vocational courses, training courses or some combination of these. This process includes identifying colleges and universities your students might want to apply to, as well as other professional and skills development opportunities they can pursue. Depending on their interests, you can point them in the direction of popular SkillsFuture courses Singapore students take, which include courses in engineering, design and media, health science, business and many more.
Some of your students may want to develop multiple skills or areas of interest, and doing so can open up more employment opportunities for them in the future. You can recommend minor programs at universities and certificate programs to students who want to build additional competencies in fields besides those they study for their majors. You might even advise certain students to consider pursuing a second major if they have the time and resources to do so.
Recommend That They Participate in Extracurricular Activities
If a student is unsure of their future career choice or doesn’t seem inclined toward anything in particular, extracurricular activities may help them discover previously unknown skills and interests. Schools and universities offer a wide variety of clubs, sports teams, volunteer groups and other organisations for students to join, so try encouraging them to sign up for one or two that might catch their eye. If the student is open to trying new things, it might even be helpful for you to nudge them in the direction of activities they’ve never tried before.
Encourage Them to Build Their Soft Skills
When evaluating potential employees, many employers today look for well-developed soft skills just as much as, if not more than, good grades and technical skills. While an excellent academic record can clue employers into a job candidate’s organisation skills, learning ability, and motivation, soft skills are necessary for optimal professional performance. Employees with underdeveloped communication skills or poor critical thinking are unlikely to excel in the workplace, no matter how talented or intelligent they are otherwise.
Emphasise the importance of soft skills to your students and encourage them to nurture these alongside their technical skills. Group projects, volunteering initiatives and other similar activities present ripe opportunities for students to build soft skills like empathy, negotiation and leadership.
Teach Them about Networking
The ubiquity of the internet and social media makes it easier for students to talk to and learn from people from all over the world. Illustrate this as an opportunity for them to start building their professional networks and meeting people from sectors they’d like to work in someday. Coach them on how to approach industry experts for advice and recommendations politely and professionally. You can even show them how to compose professional outreach emails for different situations.
Many students find the process of choosing a future career daunting, and even the most proactive and driven will appreciate sound professional advice on what steps to take. Following the tips above will enable you to guide young people appropriately toward the best careers for them.