“The process of career counselling is to make the right decisions keeping in mind the core components like child’s interests, family values, culture, abilities and personality traits”
Chetna Sabharwal (Chetna) is the Co-Founder and Mentor at BassEkRaah.com and Career Counsellor/Math Educator at Ahlcon International School, where she initiated a career resource centre with the purpose of disseminating information, guidance and individual counselling for career planning and decision making for students as well as parents. She speaks about her career and career counselling in an interview with Amarjeet.
Amarjeet Sharma (AS): Please brief us about your Educational background.
Chetna: I’m a post graduate in Psychology and graduated with major as Mathematics. Completed my B.Ed to join the educator’s bandwagon and lately equipped myself with an International Post graduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling from NCERT.
AS: What has your time as a Career Counsellor meant to you personally and why?
Chetna: Career Counselling to me is one of the essential component of today’s education and it starts as early as one’s schooling. All my activities designed are embedded with career guidance for the students for the fact that “an individual spent an average of 80,000 hours of his life at work”. Hence, it becomes evident to train them early and be wise in choosing.
AS: How did you get into Career Counselling? What interested you into Career Counselling?
Chetna: The credit for my foray into this field purely goes to my mentor Mr. Ashok Pandey, Principal, Ahlcon International School who motivated me to go for the professional training at NCERT where I chose my internship in career education. With the intensive training and continuous research, I set up a fully equipped Career Guidance Centre in the school and I have placed students well not only in India but also in the International Universities at Singapore, USA, Canada, UK, Japan etc.
With the autonomy to be an edupreneur, we ventured into “bassekraah.com” to reach out to students who do not have the facilities of career guidance or counselling available to them in the remote areas. Career Counselling interests me because it’s an ongoing process for an individual at any age. As a career expert, we need to update ourselves regularly and above all I am able to use all my skills and training well in guiding students. Moreover, with millions of students getting ready for the job market and the huge gap between the demand and supply, it becomes imperative to reach out to every possible student.
AS: Which tools do you use for guiding careers?
Chetna: I make use of both quantitative and qualitative inputs to facilitate the process of career decision making. With my training in psychometric assessments, it becomes comparatively easier to explain the benefits of counselling to both the parents and students as they see the scientific evidences as well as logical approach to the whole process. Taking into account the valuable inputs from parents, it does help in resolving the conflicts of choosing streams and courses.
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AS: Why do you think it’s important for students and parents to undergo Career Counselling together?
Chetna: As mentioned earlier, the process of career counselling is to make the right decisions keeping in mind the core components like child’s interests, family values, culture, abilities and personality traits. I use a three pronged approach by using the psychometric tests, inputs from parents and the child’s self- understanding. Keeping the parents in the loop is very important because they need to understand the ever-changing “world of work” and many a times they become an important factor in bringing the students out of their fantasies/peer influence.
AS: What are the top 3-5 skills you should have to become an effective Career Counsellor?
- Empathy: The most essential skill to be a counsellor as it helps in rapport building and facilitating the sessions.
- Listening Skills: We often are in habit of giving advice to the client whereas it is listening them patiently that will lead to further discussions or sharing without any inhibitions.
- Research Skills: To be a career expert, I am on a constant research mode to be well-equipped in disseminating the information for the latest careers/courses/colleges/jobs etc.
- Communication skills: Without these skills, a career counselor is completely handicapped. For instance, how do we convey a deficit in one of the abilities (as displayed in the report) without hurting the sentiments of both the parents and students?
- Problem solving & Critical Thinking: These skills become handy in case of resolving the conflicts between the parents and the child to bring them to a mutually agreed path.
AS: What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Career Counselling industry?
Chetna: Self-understanding is of utmost significance in terms of one’s personality, skills and core strengths. Training before jumping into this sector is also a must as we need to have certain specific techniques/skills meant to be a career counselor. Last but not the least, be a learner always as the job market is ever evolving. With almost 12000 careers as per the latest data available, it’s not possible to know it all.
AS: There are many new career options that have come up over the last decade which was not heard of before, how do you stay updated on the latest trends in Career?
Chetna: Reading and researching is what will keep us updated on the global level. In addition to this, collaboration with industry experts, universities and networking is what will help us in keeping up the pace with latest developments.
AS: Which are the Career Information resources (i.e. newsletters/ blogs/ websites/ apps) you visit regularly?
Chetna: Google search engine, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. is what I use when in need of any information or to be in touch with latest happenings in the world of career information. Apart from this, I have published a book “Ahlcon Comprehensive counselling” for the parents and students to understand the concept of career education and it has a compiled list of important links for authentic information for India and abroad both. Interestingly, it was through one of the tweets I came to know about CareerGuide.com.
AS: Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Career Counselling?
- Usha Albuquerque
- Ms. Kumkum Tandon
AS: Would you like to share few words/suggestions about the work we are doing at CareerGuide?
Chetna: CareerGuide is an excellent platform for complete and comprehensive information pertaining to career guidance. The concept of roping in the industry experts to interact with the students is a progressive step definitely. Introducing features like job shadowing, developing portfolios and parent’s involvement on the portal will help it grow further.