Consider the quiet student in the back of your class.
It may be that they try and make themselves ‘fit in’ by becoming a class clown or trying to integrate themselves into one of the popular tribes in school, just to survive. It may be that they don’t buy into the ‘grand narrative’ of school being the answer to success; as all they have experienced leads them to believe otherwise.
We now send them for a careers interview… for careers guidance.
Whether or not their adviser is fully qualified in careers work, reflective, creative and empathic will affect what happen next. Will the adviser ‘read’ what is really going on behind the words of ‘I dunno’ (will they see the fear?) Experienced advisers recognise context and draw upon over a hundred years of models and theories from across the globe to put in place techniques which are unique to each interaction… to open up, lift up, recognise, acknowledge and help students to be seen. Yet, it also takes time to become experienced and experienced advisers understand that, as advisers, they never stop learning, questioning, trying new approaches… taking risks.
Careers work attracts (generally) those fascinated by life, who are happy to work in a field with few certainties and which is constantly evolving. With clients who are challenging, complex and changeable.
Yes, they also understand economics, labour market information, theories of flux and change. Yet, they also understand people, hopes, dreams, fears and feelings. Knowing that people make decisions which are logical and illogical, that feelings matter as much as thoughts. Understanding that family and friends can be supportive as well as obstructive; that each client has an individual world view.
Experienced advisers also recognise that the world can feel senseless and that helping clients make sense of it, in ways which work for them is at the heart of what careers guidance is about. Some students may require, and be ready to look at, labour market information in a very analytical manner; data being the key which unlocks their imagination. Yet, some may require hope and empowerment through someone recognising and acknowledging their dreams and passions!
Looking beyond the school setting we can see that it takes many years to become an experienced adviser. What is desirable in our careers advisers is curiosity in our clients and the world, combined with compassion and harnessed with the desire to help students access what they need; whether a course or the steps required for discovery or reflection.
Careers advisers are often the radicals in the education and employment systems… we just have to look at the thriving community on LinkedIn of advisers employed by schools, by charities or those self-employed to see just how amazing they are. I see and hear of amazing colleagues in schools, colleges, universities, working with adults in the community and for NEET services with young people!
We should make sure that new advisers who are welcomed into the profession are given the time needed to grow, support to learn from their mistakes and nurtured so as to flourish. Especially in settings which may ask them to come with all the skills of more experienced advisers, as soon as they finish their formal training.
My goal is to encourage each of us in the careers community to support any new careers adviser into our profession as best we can, as well as recognise and nurture the knowledge, skills and talent of our experienced colleagues (wherever they maybe).
Careers advisers are amazing… I’m proud to be part of this brilliant tribe; the quirky student who didn’t fit, who wasn’t academic but fascinated by the world, creative but scatter brained, found a place to belong and in doing so hopefully help others at the same time.
Written by: Chris Targett, Area Manager & Careers Adviser at CXK