Article

Career Counselling – Leveraging Parents

Career Counselling – Leveraging Parents

Career counselling is a critical success factor which could help young students to make informed choices and choose diverse professions so that the nation can grow into a competent social and economic powerhouse.

The best time to do this is during the early stages of education. Many schools would try to organize field trips to some industries, but the focus is not understanding the career opportunities available in the domain. They are more focused in improving general knowledge and education. It is also not practical to conduct too many trips to cover diversified industries and professions.

Some schools would try to organize sessions by senior professionals. The focus is rarely on career opportunities in the professions of the speakers. It is also not easy to reach and secure the time from these busy people who may not have any stake in the education.

However, there is a large pool of professionals accessible to all the schools, colleges and the parents of the students. These people have a stake in growth and performance of the institutions. They have also spent long time in their chosen professions and have huge amount of knowledge and experience to share. They would love to get engaged in the education process of the students along with their own child and would be willing to contribute and participate in the process. They could also bring in more diversified professionals among their own contacts and networks to share their own career experiences.

When such guidance and insights are provided to children, they start expanding their horizons and look at various career choices which could lead to more fulfilling life. This would also lead a wider spread of students to choose various courses rather than fighting for a few coveted schools and courses. They start looking at life beyond engineering and medicine and would be able to choose more suitable profession based on their ability rather than being driven by parental and societal pressure.

This is akin to crop diversification in the field of agriculture. Many researchers have commented on reduced focus on SLAP – Sociology, Linguistics, Art and Philosophy which can create a long-term adverse impact on the societal growth and wellbeing. This process can help students and their parents open to new opportunities, both traditional as well as emerging. The focus shifts to studying and doing something more interesting for the individual, becoming very good at it, meeting the world’s needs and making enough money – ikigai in practice!

That does not mean that we could not do that during graduation. When such engagements happen during graduation, the selection and insights are no longer on the course, but how a particular program can be leveraged to be more suitable to an industry need. Everyone studies accounting; but students are rarely taught the nuances of a particular industry and how to address those contextual challenges.

One of the most important aspects of engineering is domain knowledge. How does one apply the theoretical knowledge in each industry context? These insights could come only from practitioners with deep experience in each industry. They would be able to guide the students, where to focus on and which industry segments are doing better, and which industry is offering long term growth opportunities. They could also share their insights about the career paths and how to achieve better growth through continuous education and industry certifications.

For implementation, institutions can create a Google form and circulate the link among the parents, asking for their interest and feedback. We can indicate the top areas to be covered so that it becomes a standard framework for all the talks and speakers would have easier time to prepare their talk. Once the initial responses are received, the talks can be scheduled, and additional speakers can be scouted for.

The following questions may be prompted to help the speakers structure their talks.

  • Intro, years of experience, industry and their current role
  • Their journey after the college
  • The industry trends, changes and future growth possibilities
  • The best things they like about their career/ job
  • The challenges they face and how they solve them
  • Emerging opportunities
  • How to prepare to get into the entry-level jobs and what are the salary trends

These aspects can be addressed in a 35 to 40 min talk followed by a 20 min Q&A session.

We can envisage the following benefits:

  • Increased insights into career choices other than Engineering and Medicine
  • Improved engagement with parents and their involvement
  • Leveraging the experience and expertise available in house among the parents
  • No need to call the same parent multiple times as we will have many from the same profession/industry
  • Easy to execute on weekends as most of the parents would be available
  • Ease of logistics - sessions through webinars
  • Ease of access to experts to answer any specific queries from students
  • At the college level, students will gain better knowledge and insights into different industry segments
  • The students will understand the additional courses they need to take and knowledge to be gained to be a better fit into a specific industry.
  • This also opens a wider opportunity basket for internships and placements
  • The parents will have a proactive role to play and will feel better engaged improving their perception about the school through active participation
  • This is also highly cost-effective, considering the resources and efforts required to run this program.

The institution can enhance the career counselling process in this manner. This can add a huge value to the students, particularly in high school - 8th to 10th std. This is a regular program which happens at primary level in the USA. A few schools are doing this in India. But there is a huge untapped opportunity. As discussed, this can also add value to the undergraduates in the colleges, in any and every stream, guiding the students for a better future.

About the Author

Flt.Lt. Sridhar Chakravarthi is an experienced organizational change coach and consultant with over 30 years of leadership experience in various industries. He believes in the possibility of exponential growth for individuals, startups and mature organizations. He empowers them to achieve exponential growth by bringing agility into their mindset, processes and behaviours. He is an authorized training partner for Enterprise Agility University, runs his company “Coach for Change” and lives in Bengaluru, India.