Top 10 Questions to Ask a Career Counselor

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By: Madison White, Uloop

Starting the career process can be a daunting task for any student. It may be worth it for your student to seek out the advice of a career counselor. But if they do, what should they ask? Here are 10 questions that your student should ask a career counselor.

1. If I’m a freshman, how far ahead should I start looking for viable careers?

Really, it’s never too early for your student to start thinking about what they want to do with their future. Unfortunately, you nagging them about “figuring it out” may make matters worse. If you really want them to understand when they should start considering their options, it’s probably best that they hear it from a professional. Career counselors can give them more specific timelines and checkpoints to make the process less overwhelming.

2. Which degrees give me the most career options?

Different universities will offer many different degrees. If your student wants a broad range of career options, be sure that they’re picking a versatile major. A career counselor can help them better understand which degrees stretch the most.

3. Which degrees are the most restrictive?

On the opposite end, your student may want something very specific to their interests. It’s also possible that they’ve chosen a restrictive major already, but they need to know what the prospects are in that field before they dive in.

4. What is the projected market for my intended career/major?

Of course, career counselors aren’t fortune tellers, but they have a pretty good idea about which career markets are growing and which ones aren’t. If your student is still deciding, knowing this information may help them settle on one that may be easier to use after graduation. If they’ve already chosen one, this will help them realize more realistically what their future could look like.

5. Does my intended career require graduate school? If so, how long will it take?

Believe it or not, some students don’t realize that becoming a doctor can take a decade (or more) of schooling. If your student is set on a lucrative career, it’s worth taking a look into whether or not graduate school is necessary. If so, be sure they know when to start gathering application materials and what they’ll need to prepare for. Talking about graduate school can also help them understand whether or not their intended career will be worth the actual amount of time and money it will cost. If they’re between options, this could help them decide.

6. What websites are the best for looking for career jobs?

Some fields have little-known secrets for job postings. The career counselor might know of the best websites for your student’s intended career or at least know which ones work best for more general listings. Nothing is worse than having to scour sub-par job listing websites while trying to find the perfect career.

7. Is it worth it to practice interviews? If so, where can I practice?

Career counselors will probably preach the importance of practicing for hiring interviews. However, many students don’t take this advice seriously. Having a counselor reiterate may help them understand its importance, and further, may help them identify what services they can offer to help them practice.

8. What qualities are hiring managers looking for in my specific field?

If hiring managers look through hundreds of applications, it may seem impossible for your student to stand out. The counselor will have a better idea of what hiring managers are really looking for when it comes to new hires. Some of this information will also probably be field specific which can be an even greater advantage to your student.

9. What can I do to set myself apart from other applicants?

Similarly, it can be difficult for your student to decide what is worth their time as far as “resume builders” go. This can vary as well, but a career counselor can tell you what things might set you apart in a bigger field of intellectual applicants. They may suggest broad things like volunteering and organization positions or certain internship opportunities.

10. How can I look for career opportunities overseas?

Finding help for jobs outside the United States can be even more daunting. If your student has an interest in working abroad, make sure that they consult the career counselor for the best websites and tools to get them there. There are also many tricks of the hiring process depending on the country they want to go to. If the counselor doesn’t have specific knowledge, they’ll probably be able to point your student in the direction of someone with an international background.

When it comes to careers, the more you know and better prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed. There are never too many questions to ask, so encourage your student to ask away!

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