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The stereotype approach towards teaching which does not encourage students to think out-of-the box made Dr Sanjib Kumar Acharya leave his teaching profession. “While I was teaching at one of the universities in Delhi, I realised that teaching had become a mundane activity for me. I was teaching a subject as per the syllabus and students were not gaining any knowledge beyond the prescribed textbooks. Also, a few students in my class were not fit to study that particular course. This is when I started having second thoughts about my career,” says Acharya.
Career counselling came naturally to me, claims Acharya. “While doing my research at the University of Toronto, Canada, I got acquainted with the concept of career ­counselling. They have a very advanced career counselling process with various levels. It is mandatory for a student to take counselling before he/she gets promoted to a new class,” he says.
After coming back to India, Acharya was convinced that the ­knowledge he had ­gathered in Toronto could be used to help others. “While teaching at Jawaharlal Nehru University, I introduced career counselling by getting involved with the students’ ­representatives,” he says.
Positive feedback and ­appreciation from students set the ball rolling for Acharya. “Through my unbiased ­guidance and efforts, I was able to help ­students overcome their ­physical, psychological and sociological stress considerably. After this, there was no looking back for me,” he says.
Being a career counsellor for the last two decades, Acharya feels that this job is no cakewalk. “Career counsellors help people take proactive steps to improve the quality of their work lives. A career ­counsellor’s ­guidance is not merely limited to ­admission to a college or course, it goes beyond. Besides the ­salary structure, course detail and job opportunities, a counsellor should know how a person’s life will shape up after choosing a particular field,” he says.
Talking about the skills required to become a career counsellor, Acharya says,“A background in ­psychology helps as it gives an insight into human behaviour. Knowledge of human behaviour facilitates understanding of career-related problems in a holistic way. There are no ­specific courses in career counselling but the courses in guidance and counselling come handy. Extensive research and good observational skills are essential.”
Though career counselling has great potential, not many people opt for it as a full-time profession. “In India,until a few years ago, the intrinsic and important connection between career counsellors and ­academics was not ­established. This is precisely why the number of career ­counsellors in India is inadequate when it comes to dealing with the actual demand. More training ­institutes and ­government aid will help attract the best talent,” says Acharya.
In his words, “The best thing about being a career counsellor is the ability to change lives for the better. And I am doing just that by guiding youngsters in terms of career choices best suited to their skills and aptitude levels.”
All you need to know about a career as a counsellor
Career counsellors assess people’s interests, personalities, values and skills and help them explore career options. Interest inventories and career tests used by counsellors help students organise their ideas about majors, careers and occupations. Counsellors review the results with students and help them explore and investigate course/programmes/occupations that interest them
* NCERT runs programmes in New Delhi, Ajmer, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar and Mysore; ncert.nic.in
* University of Mumbai; www.mu.ac.in
* Panjab University, Chandigarh; www.puchd.ac.in
* Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai;
You can do your Class 12 with humanities or science and then do your graduation in psychology, followed by a postgraduate diploma in guidance and counselling. A lot of people take up career counselling without a good grounding in psychology but they are not professionally equipped to administer psychometric tests which is essential for the job
Skills and traits
* Strong interest in helping others, sensitive and perceptive in assessing people and ability to inspire respect, trust and confidence
* You should be able to work independently or as part of a team
* One also needs to be well-informed and constantly update their information
Career counselling is a challenging career. Varied skills and aspirations can lead to a number of opportunities
Rs. I take home
Rs. 15,000 a month for junior counsellors and Rs. 2.5 lakh for senior counsellors
I love my job because...
I have contributed in changing somebody’s life
There is immense scope for growth. Those who can constantly update their information will be able to make a mark in this field