Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The College Student’s Guide to Career Counselors and Guidance

Picture this. Ten years from now, you are pulling an all-nighter at your desk job, sipping coffee, thinking how the best thing about your job is the spinning chair.

If you don’t want to find yourself stuck in a similar situation, it’s time to start making the right career moves — even if you’re still in college! Luckily, there are career counselors who can help you with just that.

Career counselors work with you so you can figure out what you want out of your education and career. Whether you’re a freshman looking for career options or a graduate looking for a job, working with a career counselor can help you understand the planning and decision-making process. The sooner you start planning your future, the better prepared you’ll be!

Should I Go to a Career Counselor?

Chances are you may have shrugged off these questions before thinking “it’s too soon.” However, career counseling may be a great idea if you are:

  • a recent college graduate,
  • unsure of your career path in the long term,
  • having trouble finding a suitable job,
  • looking to start out in a particular field, but aren’t sure how to go about it,
  • looking for better insight into what kinds of jobs would best suit your interests.

While there’s no perfect time to seek help for your career, the sooner you discover your passion the easier it is for you to select a career path. It’s never too early to seek help — and who knows where the right guidance may take you.

How Will a Career Counselor Help Me?

According to a 2018 survey, almost 26 percent of employees said they wanted to quit their jobs due to boredom. Being stuck in the wrong job can be frustrating and in extreme cases, you even run the risk of job burnout.

The right career guide can help you to the best of their ability, depending on how invested you are in the counseling process. Typically a career counselor can help you to:

Determine Your Strengths and Weaknesses 

To understand your niche, your career counselor will use tools such as:

  • Strengths and skills assessments and aptitude tests
  • Questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Personality tests

These tools in turn will help your career counselor to understand your abilities, identify possible career opportunities, and coach you through the skills necessary to get a job. Your counselor will locate resources for building these skills and also guide you through the process.

Many career counselors can assist you with finding job opportunities and preparing to apply and interview. They may even work to hone your resume and cover letters to strengthen your candidacy.

Turn Life Themes Into Career Goals 

There’s little benefit to starting out in a career that you’re good at but don’t enjoy. Rather, it is best to find a career that is in sync with your abilities and passions. Hence, the best career counselors don’t just recommend possible professions. They help you uncover a previously unrealized interest in specific careers. 

To do this, career counselors take a holistic approach. The right career guide will get to know your hopes and aspirations and need you to be honest and upfront about your strengths and limitations. They’ll seek out your passions and life themes that can help to make your career.

A career counselor can help you make sense of your prospects after college. Photo: NeONBRAND/Pexels

Understand the Job Market

While it’s great to know your skills and strengths that would help you forge a career path, sometimes you’ll find that your desired career is in steep decline or, despite your skillset, does not interest you very much.

The top career counselors are well aware of this and work hard to stay updated on issues facing the job market. Besides streamlining your choices, they also pay close attention to the ways outsourcing, downsizing, and global competition are affecting job opportunities. Additionally, they can throw light on the necessary skills and attitudes you need to succeed in a modern work environment.

Improve Awareness 

New careers are taking birth every day. No one imagined a career as a Social Media Strategist, Vlogger, or Virtual Assistant 20 years ago. Students can be unaware of new careers appearing but career counselors keep track of these developments. Additionally, career guides can alert students to courses, admission eligibility, and other insights.

What Career Counselors Won’t Do:

  • Try to find out your life purpose to suggest naturally aligned careers. That’s a therapist’s job.
  • Assist you with long-term career goals to create a detailed roadmap to achieve them. This is a long process and can take more than just a few sessions.
  • Structure your job search, write your resume and application documents, or coach you through job interviews.

Where Can I Get the Right Career Guidance?

There are several ways to get career guidance but the easiest way is to speak to a career counselor.

Counselors charge to give you skills-based assessments to figure out what you are good at so that they can point you in the direction of a career. From registering for the SAT to helping with your graduation plans, a career counselor can help you in many ways. 

To find the right counselor: 

How Much Do Career Counselors Charge?

The cost of career counseling can vary considerably depending on the number and length of sessions you need. It also includes factors such as the tests and assessments your career counselor administers.

Typically, counseling sessions are estimated to cost between $75 and $200 per hour, but this may vary. Sometimes career guides will also offer a free initial consultation to help you gauge whether they are the right fit for you before you decide to make a monetary investment.

How to Make the Most of Career Guidance at Your College

Ready to schedule a visit with your career advisor? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Start Early

Don’t wait until your final year to visit your career center. One of the biggest mistakes students make is postponing free career guidance sessions at their colleges.

Take Advantage of College Services While You Still Can

Schools mostly offer these services free of cost, so once you are enrolled find out where the college’s career services are offered and how to access them.

A good practice is to access these services sooner than you think you need them. For example, if you’re eyeing internships for the summer break, start talking to your counselor while you’re still in the spring semester.

Be Prepared

If you’re meeting a career advisor, ensure you’re coming prepared with a list of things that you enjoy doing or opportunities that you look forward to. If you’re in your second or third year, you may even want to build a resume that your counselor can look at and revise, if necessary.

Do not visit a career guide if you’re not willing to engage in a heart-to-heart conversation about your career moves. You can also come prepared with a list of queries or ask your doubts as you go about the counseling process. In any case, prepare to engage in an elaborate tête-à-tête for best results.

Career guidance is not a short-term process. If you think your relationship with your career counselor ends the moment you find a job, you couldn’t be more wrong. 

As you get older, your personality and skills will continue to evolve. In the long run, the right career advisor will help you to align your career path with your personal goals, make sound financial decisions, and help you achieve greater career success and contentment.

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