Every day, we make choices influenced by a number of varying factors, all of which depend on who we are and where we are in life. Whether it be selecting a preferred ice cream flavor or item of clothing, the choices are always before us.
Choosing a career is one of the more critical choices that can be made because its result directly impacts one’s future. Thus, soliciting guidance becomes a necessary component for young job seekers seeking out a career of choice. Without it, one may find themselves in a highly unfulfilled career.
Aside from upgrading one’s skills and keeping up to date on trends in the job market, an imperative part of the career discovery process – which is often overlooked – is an understanding of God’s plan. There are some hidden things about the self which only God can help us to know – He sees the bigger picture. Hence passing our choices though God’s filter (plan) will help us refine our career choices.
So, what can schools and other career counseling institutions be doing to refine career education and maximize the benefits to all stakeholders? The answer to this can be found in how the four below practices interact:
1. Lay the Right Foundation
Effective career guidance begins with proper subject selection in secondary school. Unfortunately, most learners find themselves channeled into a career pathway which leads to a dead end.
Studies in Trinidad by Jennifer Yanim-Ali have shown that if there is a disconnect between one’s subject selection and career choice, the result is that the career satisfaction level ends up being low. Therefore, subject selection should be based on both the interests and abilities of the students as well as take into consideration the possible career aspirations he/she may have.
2. Help Learners Develop Self-Awareness
Self-Awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s character, as in what the individual knows and understands about themselves.
An individual’s abilities, aptitudes, interests, personality, strengths, and limitations all have a strong bearing on the nature of their career choice. For example, an introverted personality type may not typically feel comfortable in a high energy, social-driven career where the majority of the job would rely on their social interaction skills.
3. Assist Learners in Developing Career Literacy (Awareness)
Career literacy is one of the strong pillars of career decisions. Without it, one cannot make an informed career decision in order to effectively determine the best course of action in reaching their goals. Career literacy also involves the acquisition of the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to understand one’s self, as well as know the job market trends and make the right career decisions.
A career-literate person effectively navigates pathways that connect both their education and employment to achieve a fulfilling, financially secure and successful career. Career literacy is especially important for young people entering the workforce – The labor market and how young people move into it are constantly changing. Learners need and must rely on current labor market information that is based on real-world data, relevant to their time.
A modern approach that can help job seekers keep pace with the ever-changing job market, could include them accessing practical work experience, either through job-shadowing, internships/practicums or any other work-related learning. Whatever the chosen method, the idea should be to keep learners engaged and exposed to all possible career options so that they are better prepared to make more informed decisions.
4. Assist Learners to Understand God’s Plan for Them
Does God have a say in the way a person chooses a career? Indeed, God has the most important part – He is our Creator and Designer. Not only does He know our strengths and weaknesses, but He has bestowed upon each of us unique talents and abilities suitable for our destined life’s calling. Since He is omniscient, He knows the economic trends best. There can be no better Career Guide, so we should feel confident consulting Him at every step of our career journey.
*In Part Two, I will share more about how we can allow God to guide us along our career paths.