Butcher, Baker or Candlestick Maker...Avoid the Accidental Career with Online Counselling

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mytalentplace.co.uk helps students to take control of their career choices by engaging with experienced businesspeople online to gain clarity on potential career options as well as building plans to achieve career objectives. Parents can also contribute their career advice in the form of video and pod casts.

More than half of people admit they just fell into their careers by accident or for lack of inspiration. One in three say they would not choose their professions if they had a second chance. And just 4% said their parents offered them career advice which they took.

These were the stark findings of an online survey conducted by http://www.myTalentplace.co.uk, a career networking site which uses social media tools like vodcasts, podcasts and online conferencing to help young people identify the best careers for them.

The online questionnaire was distributed to over 1500 professionals spread across equal numbers of workers in three sectors - finance, human resources (HR) and recruitment, and public relations (PR). The response rates indicated that PR workers were most contented with their professions, but even among this group, less than 20% said they would definitely chose the profession again!

Statistics such as these are all too common, but highly depressing when one considers that over the course of an average working life spanning 45 years, an average person working a 37 hour week with the statutory 20 days annual leave will spend around 78,255 hours in their chosen workplaces!

Although career advice is widely available across the UK, research highlights young people are not engaging effectively with these services. http://www.myTalentplace.co.uk aims to change this by working in partnership with parents and the education sector, reaching out to young people using the Web based technologies this audience group is most at home with. The site began offering career advice to youngsters and their parents in June 2009 and has since attracted over 4000 visitors, growing at a rate of 140% per month.

One of the unique aspects of http://www.myTalentplace.co.uk is the extent of parental involvement, which has never been a feature of career advice services in the past, yet consistently proves critical to successful career choices made by young people. Parents have their own section on the portal and are encouraged to contribute their career insights on the basis that, although they may not be able to advise their own teenagers any more than they currently have, there are other parents who will be able to, and act as a mentor within a student community.

Dr. Crow, the founder of myTalentplace believes that in order for youngsters to choose the right career, they need 2 things -- self awareness and realistic insights into career options. myTalentplace addresses both of these needs by including elements such as the good and bad points of all careers, plus the specific skills you absolutely have to possess to be a success in any career. And rather than relying on psychometric assessments for self awareness -- tools that many teenagers struggle to relate to - the site provides a range of exercises including 360 degree feedback which requires students to think and form quality conclusions facilitated by career advisors with business backgrounds and supported by family and friends

"A perfect example of this benefit was identified when I advised a young student who, because of shyness and top academic abilities, thought he should be pursuing a career as a researcher - a desk based job requiring little communication. After 4 online counselling sessions, we identified that actually, he possessed the building blocks for becoming an excellent communicator and was highly gifted at formulating an argument. In the end, he identified international law as an ideal career option together with appropriate back up options and he is very happy with his prospective career path and working towards this goal," says Dr Crow. "So are his parents."

Two Case Studies

Jonathan Valentine is 18 and recently completed the Career Launch programme. Career Launch is for students who have a clear vision of their future career choice and need help to take the first steps towards achieving these goals.

Since he was just 10 years old, Jonathan knew he wanted to be a commercial pilot and has spent the past 8 years visiting airports, learning how to fly a simulator, and has also landed a Piper PA28 during recent work experience at Denham airport in Herts. Jonathan is aiming to fast track into becoming a professional pilot and seeking a place on the UK's only university course for a Frozen ATPL license.

"Career Launch has helped me in many ways -- giving me a lot more confidence and a better understanding of how I need to present my CV and succeed in interviews. Competition for places on the course I want to do is very fierce and learning how to stand out from the crowd has been invaluable," says Jonathan.

Richard Valentine, Jonathan's father is also very positive about the career advice his son has received. "One of the other aspects of the programme was to identify additional career choices, which has been very useful for Jonathan. Using a 360 degree method, he has identified IT programmer as a very good second option which very much suits his personality and skills. Most commercial pilots have second jobs because although very well paid, they typically only fly for 3 days a week and like to keep busy - alternatives would fit very nicely with piloting."

Tarek Badrakhan is 16 and recently completed Career Foundations counselling.

Career Foundations is for young people who don't know what career they want to pursue. Each student partners with an experienced business person in 4 half hour online sessions. Students complete a range of diagnostics between sessions including a 360 degree feedback from friends and family. Rather than being told what to do, students participate as young adults and are required to drive the process and construct their own report based on the findings. Youngsters completing this process will have a shortlist of career options - as well as sufficient knowledge of these career options and why they are suited to them.

"The myTalentplace programme counsellor really made me think and challenged all my decisions. It was much more personalised and structured than the career advice I got at school and really opened my eyes to what I was good at. I am now aiming for a career in international law which lets me use my languages," says Tarek Badrakhan.

"Before I was worried that Tarek would choose his career for the wrong reasons, for instance, that he would choose the easy subjects to study, or pursue a career because it sounds 'cool'. With the Career Foundation Program on MyTalentPlace, Tarek was able to choose subjects and possible careers for the right reasons, such as his skills, abilities and personality," says Mrs Badrakhan.

Hear Tarek talking about his experience at http://www.mytalentplace.co.uk/counselling-testimonial.php

For more information on myTalentplace.co.uk.

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Grant Crow
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