Money & Career
In the Job Market? What To Expect From a Career Counselor
5/1/2019 1:00:00 PM

Career Counselor

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Kids hear this question all the time, and most of them quickly respond with at least a career or two. As we grow older, though, many of us become less certain about what we want to do with our lives. This is, in part, why college students switch majors and why people experience mid-career slumps.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you might want to consider working with a career counselor.

A career counselor’s mission is straightforward. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it, "career counselors help people choose careers and follow a path to employment.” Help is the key word here. Career counselors can’t perform miracles, and they don’t have all the answers. But their job is to help you find those answers and set you on a path toward a satisfying career.

"We focus on your past experiences, personal values, personality traits, interests, skills, what you’re good at but don’t like, what you like but aren’t good at,” says Raime Thibodeaux, director of student health and development at McNeese State University, who oversees the Counseling Center, Health Services, and the Career and Student Development Center. "We have this full conversation and take all the bits of information together like a research project. Now we have all this information. How do we teach you to have a decision-making approach to rule things out and rule things in?”

Career counselors at colleges and those who work with professionals have slightly different roles. College counselors often start by helping students choose majors, for example, and those in private practice sometimes work with older clients who are transitioning from one career to another.

Ultimately, though, both want to help you find the career that best suits you.

This might entail aptitude and achievement assessments as well as personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It also will likely involve personal questions that help you understand and reflect on your motivations and desires. 

Thibodeaux asks students to collect what she calls "data points” about whether a particular field is or isn’t a good fit.

"If your mama always told you that you need to be a nurse because nurses make good money but if your nursing classes suck all the joy out of you, that is a data point — it is telling you something,” she says. 

Once you’ve picked a field of employment, you may find it useful to continue working with a career counselor. They can help you create a great LinkedIn profile, give you tips for writing resumes and cover letters, and teach you networking skills. They can also help you prepare for interviews, which may entail having you craft answers to anticipated questions. Your counselor might video you practicing your answers and then show you what you looked like so you know what you need to work on.

Working with a career counselor may very well end up being a fulfilling experience for both of you.

"Students often walk in and start off having this feeling of ‘I don’t know what I’m doing or what major to pick or what job to go after,’” Thibodeaux says. "And through the course of the conversation, we find these moments where they do know things about themselves and they do have clues and insights and have made good choices. At the end of the conversation, they leave the office with more hope and direction than they came in with.”

A career counselor’s role doesn’t necessarily end when you land a job. You might want to consider working with one to help you with any of a number of workplace issues, such as conflict resolution tactics, communication skills, time management or leadership skills.

Posted by: Andrea Guthmann | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Career

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