True guidance is like a small torch in a dark forest. It doesn't show everything at once, but gives enough light for the next step to be safe. - Swami Vivekananda.

Crossroads are often good, especially if you are a professional school counselor. It means that you are in a dilemma to choose between career guidance for students and professional counseling for a client base. It goes without saying that you have to have a sound understanding of career development and planning as well as the required skills to work with children that need you to be warm, attentive, and clear in approach. 

The skills that a counselor must possess have to address a range of issues encompassing relationship, health, child psychology, career choices, and many more. Great interpersonal skills form the cornerstone of this job. This is especially true of child psychologists, whose interventions in time often end up saving a child's life.

career coach can cater to both young and adults. As a coach, you can address the issues of professional adults or students striving to get through their university applications. This has actually increased the demand for counselors in India a great deal. Digital media can help a great deal in helping you access the job market easily, especially for those looking for unique career options based on counseling or psychology. In addition, a guide is also useful to enhance your job search and help you develop the qualities required to be good at counseling. 

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Invest in Own Skill Building

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Develop self-awareness to become the best counselor.

The job of a career counselor is often viewed as one of the noblest services. Whether you work as a school counselor or with a professional career development center, at the end of the day, you are helping people get access to the best possible jobs and make the most appropriate career decisions. By investing time in building their interview skills or helping them write their resumes, you are paving the way for great career prospects.

What Qualities Should the Best Career Counselors Possess and Why

Being a student psychologist or a career counselor requires certain skills that you need to master.

Interpersonal Skills

Giving career advice or helping someone through relationship issues requires great people skills. This helps you understand the person better, using empathy, and excellent social skills.

Communication Skills

Develop your active listening skills to hear out someone with an open mind. This will help you get down to the specific needs of your client.

Lead by Example

Practice what you preach. You must have a demonstrated ability to implement relevant soft skills and technical skills while counseling someone. They need to have someone they can emulate.

Collaboration

As a counselor too, you need to work in a team. Seek adequate support from parents and teachers, while offering emotional support to students in school or college.

Vocational Skills

You must have an academic background and relevant professional experience in the field of Psychology to become a good counselor.

Time Management

Learn to schedule your appointments, ensuring that they are spaced out. This helps you organize not just your day, but also your mental space to absorb new information from new clients.

As a career counselor, not all of the above-mentioned skills are mandatory. But you do need to have the unique skill of being able to tailor a career plan for individuals. Additionally, you should be good at organizing and participating in job fairs, support placement processes, and provide career guidance beyond the mandated school hours. While career counselors are not mandated to have any particular degree or vocation, other types of school counselors, especially psychologists must have at least a bachelor's degree in Psychology.

Be Well-Versed with the Indian Education System

A closed education centre
Education has moved beyond classroom teaching and counselors have a huge role to play in widening the scope of education | Source: The New York Times

Career opportunities in the domain of counseling are also dependent on how much knowledge you have about the education system in India. This is because your interventions and inputs will have to be in alignment with the education culture prevalent in the country so as not to confuse the child further in their choices.

As a counselor, you can support and assist students in multiple ways and this should be the objective irrespective of your own career choice. Your domain knowledge is an additional assessment criterion that schools and colleges will check when hiring you. Being a psychological or career guide means you will either be dealing with students within the school system or students on a job or internship search. So, along with the education system, it may be a good idea to brush up on current affairs and other important matters that affect employability and education, at large. You are sure to be assessed on your ability to connect your counseling skills to relevant world affairs that affect the child. 

Many school counselors and career guidance advisors resort to the practice of gathering and writing down important resources that help in their job. These can include things like:

  • Information leaflets.
  • Pamphlets.
  • Information brochure.
  • Skill test guide.
  • Job-related information.
  • University application resources.
  • Useful resources to deal with school-related anxiety.
  • Personal management resources.
  • Self-help resources.

In a nutshell, you should be able to provide every possible resource beyond the classroom to help students navigate smoothly through their education years.

Build Easy Accessibility for Your Clients

Black board and digital screen
Be available for your clients both in-person and online | Source: Inside Higher Ed

An education psychologist has to be available for the students and clients round-the-clock. If you are someone who has a passion for creating a positive impact in the lives of children, then this should come easily to you. Global education is undergoing a paradigm shift and schools are looking at expanding the services they offer to include counseling programs for children, young adults, and families. These mainly include interventions on behavioral change, working with at-risk students, counseling for disrupted and conflicted families, and providing emotional support to your clients.

If your heart lies in this kind of work, you will have to work hard to master some basic personal and professional skills like,

  • Knowledge of insurance coverage for psychological interventions.
  • Excellent communication and listening skills.
  • Empathy.
  • Sound understanding of child psychology.
  • Organization skills.
  • Time management skills.

As a professional psychologist, you should aim to build easy accessibility for your clients. Your job can involve therapeutic interventions that require being available overnight at school. It is thus very important to expose yourself to real-world situations during your undergraduate course itself. This will help you connect theory to practice and prepare you for the real deal later in your career. Learning on the job is the best way to learn in this kind of demanding role with so many intricacies and nuances, that can only be experienced by doing.

Work on Giving On-Spot Career Assessment & Profile Analysis

Take a degree to start as a teacher
Young students and professionals seek the guidance of career counselors to make progress in their professional lives | Source: techcrunch.com

You just have to have the guidance to lead you in the direction until you can do it yourself. - Tina Yothers.

People who seek career guidance are essentially looking for some direction until they are confident of doing things themselves. In this light, they often expect you to share your inputs and assessments within the shortest possible time. And if you have mastered the art of counseling, you should be able to do it at the drop of a hat.

Assessing profiles to fit a particular job or career path is another important task of a career guide. Your job does not end at just assessing their profiles, but extends to matching it with the right jobs. And sometimes you may also need to get people connected to the right organizations to take the process ahead.

Career guidance and student counseling, are most often chosen as career options in the later parts of one's professional life. This allows you to build more experience and develop the required skills to guide someone else on a career path. At the same time, you can start right after college. There is no right time to start your career as a counselor. But no matter when you start, your objective should be clear- help the child get the right interventions to see through his education and prepare him for the best possible life ahead.

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Pragnajyoti

Doctor, dog lover, traveler..