Career guidance workshop


Work forms one third of our life. An average human being works 8 hours a day whereas most easily work more than that. When Robert Frost said in his poem: ‘Two Roads diverged into the deep woods and sad I could not take both’ he was expressing the difficulty one has in making choices and staying focused. One choice out of two is also difficult; it gets even more cumbersome when teenagers have a sea of choices to select from regarding the professions they want to pursue and the path that will take them to their dream career. It becomes impossible to know what will be right choice to make at that important crossroad in life.

Is this what I want?

Most adolescents do not find it easy to pick from the diverse range of career choices that are available today. An adolescent who loves cars may fantasize about a career involving cars. These fancies can range from art (painting cars), mechanics (engineering cars), marketing (selling cars), mechanical design (designing cars) or simply loving cars all his or her life as a passion. Teenagers often wish for that magic lamp but if they found one and were offered 3 wishes they would still be confused and would be unable to ask for the right career, as they wouldn’t have a predilection.

Choice is a process

It is important to offer our children the appropriate guidance to take time out and think about things in life they have always dreamt of doing when they grow up: things which they enjoy, activities and tasks that allow them to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. Today there are opportunities ranging from being a world-class chess player or fashion model to DJ or a cardiac surgeon (sometimes a couple of these are seen together too!). Adolescents need to be trained on introspection and reflection: Do they see themselves pursuing one particular form of activity everyday for the rest of their life? Does it bring excitement and a smile on their face? Do they have something new to offer to the world with their ideas and acumen? Most answers come when they ask themselves the question rightly. They need to learn to ask and then discover the answers. They are answerable to themselves and no one else.

Knowing the difference

Skills (if they exist) are innately present within people. Ability is the person’s capacity to use that skill well; whereas aptitude is the knack to acquire a new proficiency and then use it to personal advantage. These three must not be conflated. A nimble and graceful classical dancer may not be happy if she has to be dancing for a living. Likewise with chess or cricket or cooking or singing, some hobbies are fine as hobbies. Every animal lover does not have the aptitude to be a vet. They could be anything else and also involve themselves in animal rescue or volunteering at an animal shelter once in a while. Each one must have a passion for what they do but they must also learn to differentiate hobbies from professions. That is when the picture becomes less hazy and focus appears.

Knowing the self

A major downside in growth and development in children is incomplete identity development which results in alienation to oneself. Adolescents are lost amidst choices of their friends, teachers, parents, relatives; and what they see in movies and television. Certain careers ‘look’ attractive. Children with borderline intellectual functioning speak of becoming successful plastic surgeons because they aim to treat the elite and high class patients. Some wish to fulfill the unrealized dream of a parent. In this process children forget what their calling truly is. If one holds the camera, one cannot ask another to check if the image is in focus. Children need to befriend themselves and know what they want from their own life.

MINDFRAMES: Reframing choices

When there is conflict, emphasis must shift from magnifying problems; to optimizing the hunt for solutions. Career guidance batteries assess multiple dimensions of abilities and hidden desires. Not just aptitude tests, but personality style, conflict handling style, social quotient, emotionality, core abilities, intellectual capacity, perfectionism style, assertiveness index and many more; all of these make one aware of their own SMART goals. A comprehensive study of the persona makes it easy to identify abilities and areas of excellence. Self reported responses generate an innate predilection towards a particular orientation. The interactive workshop facilitates information sharing and expressing that ignorance is really not bliss.

The right approach

No one is born with all the skills that are markers of success. Most abilities are cultivated along the way. Some traits however form the foundation stone of building any new aptitude in order to succeed in life. Some of these that ought to be built in children include:

  • Making responsible choices
  • Identifying ability v/s interest
  • Building right personality traits
  • Understanding one’s limitations
  • Preparedness to work diligently
  • Setting accomplishable goals
  • Maintaining appropriate focus
  • Balancing: Money vs. passion
  • Choosing two or more careers
  • Understanding parent concerns
  • Withstanding the uncertainties
  • Handling imminent frustrations
  • Maintaining work life balance
  • Readiness to make adjustments
  • Building professional networks
  • Standing out not hiding behind

The right approach

Driving someone to success is not in the hands of a third person. People must toil themselves. However there are ways to help children make the right choice.

  • Guidance from professionals
  • Differential Aptitude Testing
  • Teenage personality inventories
  • Socio-emotive adjustment scales
  • Anxiety assessment questionnaire
  • Projective personality testing
  • Tests to assess performance IQ
  • Scales for assertiveness levels
  • Informal interest inventory
  • Open ended interviewing
  • Individual counseling process
  • Parental counseling process

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t children make their own choices?
Although it seems that one has to make their own choices for themselves, most 16 to 18 year olds are at the crossroads in life where they can do well with some guidance. It is important to help our children make the right decisions at the right time so they assure the best possibilities of success.