Choosing a future career path is an important choice for students, as it sets the tone for their studies and focus.

Career choices and impact the future financial well-being of students, and repercussions usually resonate into emotional health and personal networks as well.

As a career counselor, your job is to help high school students choose a profession that they can both exceed at and enjoy. In order for the counseling to bring practical value to the students, it should include several basic practices that we recommend making standard in your schools.

Identify strengths and interests with professional assessments

It’s important that your students know the correlation between satisfaction with the job and their emotional health. Since the first step in finding a good job fit is identifying interests and strengths, offer professional assessments.

Such tests use psychology-based questions to identify the nature of a person, their psychological traits and possible areas of interest. While no assessment can 100% guarantee the success, their results can serve as a guiding light to give your students a starting point with a few career options. They will also help the students better understand themselves overall.

When counseling about future careers, recommend playing to their strengths, but don’t discount their interests and passions just because they didn’t show promise in the assessment. It’s important to differentiate between achievable goals and irrational dreams to guide your students toward the best choice for them.

Recommend extracurricular activities to explore a range of interests

In order to fully explore their interests, recommend that your students try extracurricular activities to help their potential and reveal any possible hidden talents.

It’s common for schools and universities to offer a variety of activities to choose from. So if a student is hesitant about their future career choice and not sure about his or her interests, different extracurricular activities may help identify those.

You can advise choosing either an activity that is related to the current student’s interests or something brand-new – but this recommendation will depend on the student and his/her desire to try new things.

Encourage internships or part-time jobs

An internship or a part-time job is a great way to get a clear view of how specific industries function. Students can learn about internal processes, and the basics of professional communication and behavior.

Look for the following when analyzing internships;

  • Relevant industry
  • Good work processes to learn from
  • Requirements for self-organization and responsibility
  • Option to work in the company in the future, if the internship goes well

Tip: Help your students nail their interviews for this by doing some practice interviews together. You should do at least one virtual interview as well, to get them comfortable in front of a camera, especially since many initial screenings are more efficient when done online.

Emphasize soft skills as well as technical skills

The shift in the modern educational system now emphasizes the importance of soft skills alongside good grades. Thus, it is your responsibility to remind the students that for many employers, soft skills matter as much as their GPA.

Although good grades serve as an indicator of motivation, organization, learning ability, and comprehension, soft skills make a huge difference in professional performance.

Communication, negotiation, psychology, etiquette, leadership, critical thinking and similar soft skills will have a tremendous impact on career success.

No matter how good a person is in a certain activity – if they are not able to communicate their thoughts and ideas, or hesitate to talk to the fellow employees, it might be a reason for churn.

Recommend your students nurture their soft skills, including empathy and negotiation, just as much as their technical skills.

Teach them how to network

The popularity and availability of the Internet enables students to talk to almost any person in the world. Highlight this as an opportunity to expand their professional network and meet people from the industry they’re interested in.

Encourage students to reach out and ask for professional advice or recommendations in a polite and professional manner.

Tip: Help the students write a professional outreach email for difference scenarios.

Approached in a proper manner, many professionals will be happy to guide a young student and give some basic recommendations on where to start.

Provide resources for further research and study

Finally give your students resources for further learning and self-education. These should help them learn more about the industry, work ethics, and more.

  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Online courses
  • Digital and physical books
  • Short-term courses

Having these materials available gives students a wonderful opportunity to learn the basics of a future job, get acquainted with the industry, and gain the basic skills needed to succeed in the future.

As a counselor, your primary goal is to encourage young people to explore their interests and help them find the best-matching job that corresponds to their skills and strengths. In addition to following the tips above, be sure to take an individual approach toward every student in a friendly and caring manner.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick