Choosing the right career is difficult for many people. This is especially true for young people, who are increasingly forced to make “mature” decisions young ages.
Unfortunately, teenagers and young adults often become anxiety-ridden in the career decision-making process. What is even more unfortunate, however, is that some teenagers make bad decisions regarding their careers due to a lack of, or unrealistic, information about careers or themselves. Ohio State University National Center for Research in Vocational Education estimates the high school dropout rate at 30%. Many dropouts falsely believe that a diploma is not necessary for their intended career path. Others pursue particular careers for which they are not suited and become unhappy or unfulfilled in their pursuits.
The fact that finding the right career is both a high priority and a difficult thing to do testifies to the fact that career guidance is necessary. A 1985 Gallup poll revealed that 57% of the general public felt that “career education” should be a mandatory course for all high school students. Whether or not compulsory courses for career education become the norm, every high school in the country is required to have a staffed guidance counselor trained in vocational or career counseling.
In most cases, school guidance counselors are well equipped to assist a student in making career or college plans. The counselor can administer a variety of tests, which will give the student what he or she needs most-an accurate picture of one’s abilities, likes and dislikes, personality, and therefore, jobs for which one is best suited. Additionally, the counselor can prescribe particular skills or educational experience necessary for the desired career. Finally, the counselor is able to provide the student with up-to-date job outlook data via on-line computer services, such as Career Information Delivery Systems (CIDS), or through the use of other reference materials.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
What happens when society pressures young people to ‘choose’ their profession during high school?
Most people work different types of jobs before settling into one field of work. How does floating from job to job help or hinder a person?
Do kids today utilize the guidance counselors at school and research out this pertinent information for their futures? Why or why not?
Is it necessary or critical that young people know what they want to do before entering college? What pressures surround the answers to this question?
For a young person, making a career decision is yet another difficult task in growing up.
Finding the right career generally includes two processes: coming to a deeper understanding of one’s own abilities and interests, and matching these abilities and interests with an appropriate career.
Parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and youth leaders can greatly serve the needs of teenagers and young adults by assisting them in helping them choose an satisfying career:
Engaging them in individual dialogues about their abilities, interests, experiences and goals.
Arranging for interactions between them and professionals in various careers.
Encouraging them to meet with their school guidance counselor in order to obtain detailed information about themselves (abilities and interests) and various available careers.
Youth also need encouragement to explore different fields. Attending job fairs specifically designed for high school kids exposes them to a variety of career opportunities.
Those who work with youth need to remember that one should not pressure kids who are not ready to think about a career. It is all right for a teenager not to know what career he or she wants to pursue. Youth workers must move at the speed of the young person, building self-confidence and encouraging them all the way but empathizing when they panic.