With a plethora of career opportunities and fields of study available today one might stop and wonder about the right one to opt for. The question always lingers whether to opt for the right course, or the right career, after the right course. 

There has been a generation who knew for sure the career path ahead of them. There were three options: Science, Commerce, Arts; followed by a career as a Doctor, or an Engineer, or a Civil Servant, or a government job, or an academic career as a teacher or a professor, or simply getting into the private sector as a clerk or an officer and working his way up, over decades, till retirement. 

Career counselling

Today, we look at a completely different scenario. There is Artificial Intelligence; a digital economy; Data Science, Analytics in every field; and things have changed. A vanilla career is no more. There is an option to specialize, and as such parents are mighty worried given the frills and thrills of a high-end specialization and subsequent ‘high-paying’ job that drives them to worry much more than their children. It is all about ‘return on investment’ or ROI. There is an urge to be included in every conceivable field of study which makes the necessity of career counselling essential. 

‘Career counselling’ is quite a misunderstood term at times unless it is delivered by a trained practitioner; someone who knows something of most of the things related to any career, or field of study, and can responsibly guide a person in the right direction. There has to be guided sessions compatible to the persona of the subject (or the person being counselled). Often we come across ‘sales pitches’ customized to sell an academic programme or an institution in the name of counselling. Those are not counselling sessions. At times, we have life skill coaches doubling up as career counselors.

Even as one moves on in life, the need for career counselling never diminishes. In such cases, the term used might be ‘mentoring’. Mid-career blues, or career stagnation, does need mentoring. A seasoned senior professional dons the hat of a mentor and can guide a junior irrespective of age. Alternately, a certified career counselor or an industrial psychologist can also pitch in, given the criticality of the situation.

However, coming back to academics, career counselling is much needed for students pursuing technical careers such as engineering or management studies. The former needs it the most given that there is so much confusion over a choice of a career path or opting for their first job. The level of knowledge and practicality over a given domain, the industry needs, is much awaited which is why a career counselor equipped with certain psychometric tools can judge the student better and suggest the right career path, scientifically. The earlier it is done, the better.

Needless to say most students have opted for courses because of peer pressure or parental wishes and not so much out of their own desire. Career counselling, if done scientifically, can show phenomenal results on an individual’s career path and one has to understand it to appreciate its benefits. Today, it is more of a necessity. 

The author is the Dean – IIPC and Head of Training & Placements at Terna Engineering College, Nerul. He is also the Co-Founder and Trustee of MyRetiredLife Foundation, apart from being a startup mentor to a recruitment firm and a career advisor to an online learning portal. He can be contacted at [email protected]