Importance of Career Counseling

This post has originally published here.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people pass matriculation in Pakistan. Many of them end up in high school (known as college or intermediate in Pakistan). Mostly students go for Pre-engineering because this way, they’d have the choice to opt commerce-related courses in the future. Unfortunately, over a fraction of the students who pass intermediate are able to study in universities because of the excessive pressure of making money to feed one’s family and quite expensive fee structure of the universities (a not-so-much-of-a-prestigious university offers a bachelor program in around 3.5-4 hundred thousand rupees. And that’s just basic tuition-fee. Not to mention all the other expenses like travel, stationary, course material, etc., make the overall cost reach 5-6 hundred thousand rupees.

The list doesn’t end here, unfortunately the students who do opt for higher education in universities, mostly choose fields and areas out of parental pressure or what they assume would make them get the best and highly paying job when they graduate. That, in fact, is the weakest assumption many students make in the most crucial times of their lives. The result: lack of interest in the field/major they enrolled in, lack of passion to achieve exceptionality, and eventually poor job performance. The solution: professional career counseling services to not only students but also professionals seeking to opt a different career path.

Career counseling is one of the most neglected areas of education in Pakistan. There are only a few career counseling firms but they’re located in the metropolitan cities of Pakistan and a few ones that are good, charge a lot of money. Result: we’re back to square one!

The REAL solution: Career Guide, and online career counseling platform for students and professionals in Pakistan. The catch is: IT’S ONLINE AND IT DOESN’T CHARGE ANY MONEY FOR COUNSELING! Yes, that is correct. Founded by Basit Saeed, Career Guide is an idea of social innovation, initially presented in P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association) Social Innovation Funds seeded by Google. More than 350 ideas were presented in the first round and only 64 got shortlisted. Career Guide was one of them.
Career Guide was launched in November 2011, and over the past eight months, it has counseled over 400 students without charging them a penny!

What do you think of Career Guide’s approach to use internet as a medium instead of becoming just another brick-and-mortar counseling firms? Please provide feedback and suggestions via the comments.

If you or anyone you know need career counseling, you can contact Career Guide via our Facebook page, Twitter handle, or LinkedIn Group.

A Typical Pakistani Student

Zeeshan is a brilliant student. He has completed his college in Pre-engineering with an ‘A’ grade. Now, he had to make a big decision, the decision of his career path. But, like most of students in Pakistan on his level, he was as lost as lost as he could ever be. He didn’t have the slightest idea about his career options even which career he could choose for himself. Sometimes, he thought about studying what his friends consider studying and sometimes he thought about choosing his parents’ version of his career.

Zeeshan isn’t alone in this country, there are hundreds of thousands of students who pass out from college each year and tens of thousands of them get admission in universities. A very high percentage of those students make decision based on these factors: (a) current market trend of that career, (b) financial incentives that career has to offer, (c) parental pressure, and (d) current job vacancies in that career. However, what students mostly give any thought to, is the future worth of a career, its future exposure, and its impact on typical careers.

Zeeshan heard about these typical career counseling firms in his city. But, there’s no way he could go to those expensive firms as he belonged to a middle class family. But deep down, what Zeeshan really wanted is someone to guide him, tell him the pros and cons of particular career, tell him what opportunities are out there, and how to take advantage of those opportunities. Zeeshan couldn’t find any such platform in Pakistan and now he’s studying in B.Com so he could complete his studies in a few years and then start working.

Is Zeeshan alone in this country, I ask you? Doesn’t Pakistan need institutions or platforms that could guide students like Zeeshan? What do you think about it?

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