Career advice: How to talk to your careers counsellor?... (Dear Jess)

by Jessica Holsman

Dear Jess,

I’m struggling to decide what degree I want to study after school and I don’t feel comfortable speaking to a careers counsellor. I’m worried they won’t be very helpful and might get frustrated at my lack of direction because we are supposed to have our choices narrowed down by the end of this semester.

Please help!

Anonymous x

Hi Lovely!

So exciting that you're getting closer to finishing school and beginning to think about the next steps! It can be a really eye opening time in our lives, as we start to think about our futures and the different ways we feel we can contribute back to our community. Then again, it's also pretty stressful because trust me, a lot of us don't have it figured out right away! There are so many degrees to choose from and different career pathways to take, so feeling like we have to figure it all out on our own can be tough! That's where a careers counsellor comes in handy :)

Speaking from experience, when I was younger I used to get super intimidated speaking to adults and I know this goes for a lot of young teens too. I totally understand what you mean when you feel apprehensive to talk to a careers counsellor, in case they don’t understand where you're coming from or fail to give you the help and patience you need  from them at the time. 

I think it's important all students begin to think about their futures during their final high school years, but I certainly wouldn't expect them to have their 5-10 year plans all figured out. Even if you can provide them with a little direction, I'm sure that will help! You don’t need to know exactly what you want to study but it can be helpful to at least provide a few examples of your interests, strengths and hobbies. For example, think about the things you really would NOT want to study or do in the future to help narrow down the list of options. Then, also consider the subjects you enjoy and the skills you possess or want to further develop. This is a good start and then your careers counsellor can help you go from there. I guarantee you have more clarity than you're giving yourself credit for :)

Also, it’s important to remember that you are going to speak with them for yourself. You are there to take charge of your future (#BOSS!), so I would hope that your proactive nature and willingness to explore opportunities would be met with respect and support. I think a lot of students are in the same position as you and that it's not uncommon for careers counsellors to hear that a student is still unsure (no matter how pressing the deadline is!). I remember meeting with my careers counsellor but I actually went with my Mum which was really helpful! Just a thought, but perhaps you could schedule a time with your parents to have a chat all together so you feel more comfortable?

Best of luck and let me know how it goes!

Love, Jess x