Career Questions Students Ask The Most (Part 1)
(or Should I Really Become a Tattoo Artist?)
By Michael T. Robinson
President and Chief Career Counselor
Students often ask to interview a Career Counselor here at CareerPlanner.com, as part of a homework assignment or research project.
I've taken the most popular questions and answered them here just to save you time.
Feel free to quote these answers in your research and homework project. You have my permission to use and copy any of these questions and answers on this page.
If you are a student doing research into career counseling as a career, let me suggest you contact at least 3-4 different types of career counselors to get a complete picture. Because my career counseling practice here at CareerPlanner.com is much different than most other career counseling practices and I may not be representative of the profession.
1) What different types of Career Counselors and Coaches are out there?
First there are three major differences in career counselors (this is my opinion):
A) The "Professional, Full Time Career Counselors" as I call them
Those who have spent most of their lives in the career counseling profession.
It's how they earn their living. It's what they get paid to do.
They probably decided early in their life to become a full time career counselor. They may have gotten a Masters degree in the field.
In general these counselors have an excellent educational background in career counseling, and because of their years of experience, they have seen many different types of clients and careers. They are vary knowledgeable and aware of a wide range of careers.
Usually you find these folks working full time in career counseling at universities and community colleges.
The only possible drawback is that these counselors may not have a lot of direct, first hand experience as a hiring manager.
Their strong point is that they can help you figure out a career direction and the education you need for that career.
I highly recommend using these types of career counselors if you are a student and planning your first career, but if you are making a big career change in mid life, you might want someone with more experience in business and the industry of your choice.
B) The "Transitional / Career Change Coaches," as I call them
Those who worked in different fields but then moved into career counseling later in life.
Many people transition from other careers into the field of career counseling and coaching.
They usually do this because they have found they like to help people and they have a good deal of first hand experience with managing careers and career change.
In this category you will find many people who worked in the Human Resource (HR) department of corporations (previously known as the Personnel Department). You will also find people who worked as Recruiters (Head Hunters).
I also fit into this category but my background is different. I built and ran businesses during my career and in the process I had to hire and coach many employees in my own business. This is where I first learned I had a talent for helping people identify what they were really good at. But it was a talent that did not fully develop until later in life. I could not have done this right out of college. It took 30 years of experience to get here.
"Transitional career counselors" can help most when you want to change careers or if you are having problems with your current career.
They can also help you identify your first career.
Plus they can also help advise you on the whole hiring / firing / getting a job process.
C) The Part Time, "High School Career Counselor"
I had a terrible career counselor in high school. He was the Biology teacher and the wrestling and football coach. We had nothing in common.
I'm sure that for someone trying to get a football or wrestling scholarship he was very helpful, but I was headed towards science and engineering, and his advice was worse than worthless. His advice, had I followed it, would have been damaging to my career.
He basically told my parents that because I had trouble in Calculus that I probably would not make it as an engineer. He ignored the fact I had done well in all of my math classes up until then. Needless to say, somehow I managed to survive 7 semesters of Calculus, graduate from college and work my way up to Vice President of Marketing and R&D and then finally CEO.
He said because I was not great in this one math class all I could be was an electronic technician. I would never be able to graduate as an electronic engineer. What's the difference? Try 5x the salary, the chance to travel around the world, the chance to become CEO, and eventually own my own company.
So at this point I have to say that I don't think most high school counselors have enough real world experience to do a good job. But I make that judgment based on a sample size of one. I am sure there are better ones out there somewhere.
Also, high schools don't seem to want to invest money to hire really good career counselors.
Not sure why that is, but it's stupid and short sighted on the part of the school systems..