CAREER GUIDANCE TALK ---- Bloomsford Entrepreneurship Academy

Bloomsford Entrepreneurship Academy launched a career talk to High school student in some part of Nigeria. High school is a time of real transition for teens, as they move into adulthood and the more adult issues of work, careers, and college. It is a time of growth as well as a time of challenge. Most students often find themselves at crossroads when it comes to career choices. They are curious about the world of work for want of information about entry level requirements, the day to day tasks performed, the remuneration, the opportunities to travel etc. They occasionally also want to demystify, confirm or cross check information received from other sources.

Studies have shown that many students choose careers in the abstract. While the best determinant of a career choice is ones interests, strengths, skills and abilities,

Most students make their choices based on:
  1. Peer pressure
  2. What they deem as cool careers
  3. The big name in a career. Many students talk of neurosurgeon, aeronautical engineer, etc
  4. Lack of information that makes students and guardians only think of the top 5 careers (doctor, engineer, architect, lawyer, IT) and yet we have over 300 careers
  5. Parents & teachers influence
  6. Subjects taken in secondary schools
  7. Jobs that are deemed to be available and marketable

Career is the sequence and variety of occupations (paid and unpaid) which one undertakes throughout a lifetime. Such activities are not limited but include leisure engagement, learning, work and other life roles. When narrowed down, career can be considered as the progress and actions taken by a person throughout a lifetime, especially those related to that person’s occupation. Thus, a career is often composed of job held; titles earned, and work accomplished over a long period of time, rather than one position. The complexity of career activities necessitates careful planning and wise decisions in order to achieve fulfilment in the various aspects of life; career has much direct influence on the totality of human personality.

Therefore, the need to produce literature that contains the template of career guide and over the years not only had there been pronounced changes in the myriad factors which determine the type of work which one does, but cultural perceptions about working have emerged with occupational options never before available. In addition, the high pace of technological inventions has automated human services required in almost all the production industries and social services establishments. The development portends great danger to employment opportunity unless individual has acquired adequate knowledge of the workplace prior to the time of making final career decisions.

Thus, many young people today are uncertain and confused by the conflicting attitudes about work. Many hear that the work ethic has been eroded and that in many specialties, a flooding market will cause unprecedented unemployment. But they also hear that a person’s career choice determines the pattern and texture of one’s lifestyle. It therefore becomes expedient to provide adequate material for students, especially at the tertiary institution level.

We have launch a book titled CAREER GUIDANCE thus presents systematic information that is helpful for the readers in terms of career decision making. It is equally helpful for individuals who may want to acquire more knowledge on career development in different dimensions. In particular, it is a must read material for secondary school students and their teachers in order to acquire the required information, knowledge and understanding of self, the world of work and the society at large.

I hereby staunchly recommend this book for use in the formal institutions of learning and outside.

Introduction to Career Guidance

Guidance is the process of helping individuals to understand themselves and their world. The enhancement of an individual’s functioning to the fullest potential is the main objective of guidance and counselling (Shertzer & Stone, 1976). A career is one of such avenues through which one’s fullest potential can be achieved. It involves the work that one does for the most part of his or her life as his or her contribution to society and through which a reasonable livelihood is earned.

Career guidance is a service rendered mostly to individuals or group of people that helps them to take proper steps toward pursuing a suitable career. According to McKay (2011), “career guidance consists of services that help people successfully manage their career development. Although this aspect of human development occurs on its own as we mature, everyone can benefit from assistance navigating through this process.” A Guidance Counsellor is best suited to offer this kind of service. Secondary school students need career guidance more than any other category of people. This is because; secondary education is a crucial stage in the career development of a child. Students are mostly not as informed as their teachers, parents or elder siblings when it comes to making career choices. This reinforces the need for help from those who are better enlightened by virtue of their experiences (as in the case of elders) or specially trained for such a task while also having vast experiences (as is the case with Guidance Counsellors).

Career guidance is necessitated by the following reasons;

  • An apparent lack of sufficient and correct knowledge about the world of work which is ever changing.
  • Lack of career development materials and professionals in many countries to educate students on the diverse alternatives available to them.
  •  High level of indecision and floundering that amounts to a waste of time and resources.
  • Growing dissatisfaction and frustration amongst professionals as a direct result of making the wrong career choices.
  • Increase in the number of non admissible students due to improper combination of subjects.
  • Inability of parents to keep up with the task of assisting their children to prepare and plan due to economic pressures that take all their time.
  • Preparation and planning will enable and empower you to take right decisions, without fear and shall remove the state of uncertainty (Vedhera, 2004). A well prepared student will understand the options and choices available and know how to turn the odds in his or her favour. To be well prepared is to be well armed to plan for and face the future. This is an exciting phase in your life and do not be apprehensive about it. All the great people and high achievers started somewhere. You are therefore not alone.

Career planning is an exercise that is well worth the time invested in it because it sets you going on the path that leads to where you would like to go. It provides you with a lot of clarity about your career choices and objectives as well and it is best to start early. From the point of subject selection, a career path is already being set out. Subject selection forms the foundation for what an individual finally becomes. With the right combination of subjects, one eventually gets to study a complementary course and further becomes a professional in that field. However, there is more to building a career than the subjects selected. It is possible for one to select subjects for which there exists little or no competence. Another crucial factor is one’s passion for such a profession. The factors will be well discussed later.

Often, most people get stuck at the very beginning of the planning process itself. There seem to be too many choices that are throwing themselves at you with all kinds of material gains, fame and wealth, comfort and luxury, glamour and beauty. From acting to singing, writing to banking, software programming to business, choices confuse you. Naturally, feelings of self doubt might come in at this stage. Am I good enough for that? You may ask, or how do I become successful at this? After some time of pondering over many career paths you may end up thinking that maybe you are no good for any of these choices after all. Here is where a bit of career planning helps. There are two ways of starting off. One is to find out what you really like doing and do it irrespective of the gains and difficulties. The second is to find out what really motivates you. Find out which among the careers gives you the satisfaction you want and build up competencies for it. Either way, you will get what you want as a result of your work or occupation.

Whichever path you choose, it is most important to know your individual strengths and weaknesses. Sit down and check yourself honestly. Think of all your accomplishments, the compliments you got, the work that really inspired you, the times when you worked with passion and jot them all down. You will find that as you note down your victories, achievements etc, a pattern will emerge. You can find that you are good at organizing, making people comfortable, leading, solving puzzles, physical activity, playing music or games. Each of these represents a career option by itself or reveals some characteristic in you - qualities that could be good assets in your future career options.
Now list out things that motivate you, which you aspire for, your dreams - things you would want more than anything else in the world. Find your fit between the person you are and the dream you wish to achieve. As this picture gets clearer, you become more aware, confident and purposeful. Attributes that serve you well along the way. You have now formed a clear picture of yourself with specific qualities.

Based on your aspiration level and your aptitude, you can also identify the careers that offer the kind of lifestyle or returns that you wish. If you wish to frequently travel and be in command of a dynamic business you can zero down to careers in marketing with a goal to set up your own firm or to head a large company (the same may not be possible if you inherently like to paint for long hours). It is best to be honest with yourself at this stage because most people take decisions based on glamorous misconceptions about certain careers and later change them. For example if you wish to be an airhostess, check out the conditions available for the kind of work that is associated with being an airhostess. Only if you really enjoy doing that kind of work and the rewards that come with it must you go for it. Else, look further for what really fits you. Growth, rewards, recognition and most importantly job satisfaction and a good quality of life come from one thing - loving your job.

Having decided on a particular direction, you must build competencies for it. Specific careers need specific education and training. Whichever area you choose to be in, you will succeed if you strive to be the best in it. Leave your individual name on it. Every career affords you the opportunity to make life better for yourself and others; you only need to be willing. Learn the basics by acquiring information, taking courses, taking up internships and holiday jobs, learning the economics of the job and adding special skills that help in handling the job with greater proficiency.
All careers without exception would certainly require a good writing and verbal communicating ability so please work on that, a pleasing and well-mannered personality, a professional work ethic and good inter-personal skills. Work on these important soft skills along as you plan your career.
If you have a goal, then be clear about it and start working towards it. You will learn along the way. You will acquire skills and competencies that help you along. The important thing is to start the journey. In today’s competitive world; full of new options and opportunities, you have the power of choices. You can well exercise them by putting yourself in a stronger position through preparation and planning.

Here is a systematic approach you can take in preparing and planning for your career as given by Vedhera (2004);

1. Analyse and understand yourself.

  • Note all the facts, starting from the physical data.
  • The subjects you are interested in and find easy to understand.
  • The subjects in which you have been scoring well
  •  The sports you are interested in and good at.
  • Skills, interests and hobbies.
  • Personality type - introvert or extrovert etc.
  • This list is for your own self and therefore you should be frank about it. Also note that every individual is different and no single personality type is better than the other.

2. Prepare your own S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis in writing.

  • You may be shy, good in science subjects, may be a good soccer player, but may find it difficult to express yourself due to lack of confidence or command over language.
  • You may want to do a course, where admission may be difficult and it may also be very expensive.
  • If you have outstanding achievements in some fields, like being a top ranker, captain of the basketball team, a very good drummer, a talented artist etc., mark them separately.
  • What group of professionals fascinate you and why? List out your role models.
  • Also list separately the things you are passionate about- e.g. music, sculpture, studies, public speaking, animals or providing first aid.
  • Would you like to take them up as your profession?
  • Are you prepared to invest the required time and energy?

Career planning starts with a clear understanding of oneself. The process suggested is simple and interesting. It provides a good starting point and as the saying goes “well begun is half done”. Whatever career you choose, a good application of diligence and smart work would make you excel to a high level of societal reckoning.

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