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How to choose the right career counsellor!

By Bindisha Sarang
March 22, 2020 08:45 IST
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Today, there are as many approaches to career counselling. You only need to know what you are looking for, says Bindisha Sarang.

Image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ashoka University

If there's one word that defines the current generation, it's 'change'.

Things are changing everywhere. Right from the way we learn to the way we work.

Experts believe that the job scene worldwide is going through unimaginable changes.

Naveen Chopra, founder The Chopras, a pan-India education consulting company, says, "We are in an era in which a student might enter a course at a bachelor's level, thinking that he might find a job. But at the end of that course, employment prospects would be grim."

 

The job scene will change so much that, according to experts, nearly 850 million jobs will vanish in the next five years or so to Artificial Intelligence and only 2.50-odd million will be created, leaving a gap of 600-odd million.

This means it's essential more than ever to make the right career choice.

Thankfully, career counsellors of different stripes exist to help you figure things out along the journey.

By and large, the whole career counselling space has been pretty unorganised for many years, but things are now getting streamlined with the introduction of more mature offerings, along with premium players in the space.

What's on offer

There are a few offers out there, right from premium players with high-end career offerings to new FinTech online players to more India-focussed players and your local individual advisors.

Across all these models, each type might either offer only admission services to universities abroad, or career counselling services focussed more on assessments and the like, or a combination of both.

Here are some worth mentioning.

 

The Red Pen (TRP)

One of the high-end career counselling organisations of the country, The Red Pen is an independent education consulting company that helps applicants in planning their education at the school, college as well as post-graduate levels.

TRP is an independent education counsellor, which means it charges students a fee and works in their interest to place the student in his or her best-fit university based on their individual abilities and goals.

TRP is not an agent, has no agreements with colleges and is paid a commission by them if the student enrols.

Namita Mehta, President-the Red Pen says, "We do not employ any psychometric tests for our students. We believe that mentoring students and working with them consistently after grade 8 is more effective.

"We recently launched a mentorship programme in which students have to catch up through calls/meetings with our team every fortnight."

TRP helps applicants develop admission strategies and prepare application components, apart from guiding them admission processes to institutions worldwide.

Its services include pre-application, university selection, financial aid advice, application form review, resume development, personal statement brainstorming editing, letter of recommendation guidance, interview preparation, test preparation planning and strategy, to name a few.

Fees can range can be anywhere between Rs 40,000 and Rs 5 lakh, depending on the number of schools and the academic course the student is applying for.

 

ReachIvy

ReachIvy.com started off being a premium education advisory helping students reach top-tier institutions globally and has now added career counselling services to its existing offerings.

Vibha Kagzi, CEO and founder, ReachIvy, says, "It is important to know what to study before they decide where to study. Thus, we began our career counselling services."

ReachIvy offers study abroad consulting for undergraduates, graduates, MBA and PhD, as well as for executive education.

It is an IEC (independent education consultant), so you have to pay for its services, as it does not get a commission from the university or college on student enrolment.

In admission services, this institute offers the whole hog, right from pre-admission to applications and financial aid advice and the likes.

Other services offered are psychometric assessment tests adapted for Indian students in terms of stream selection and career choices, interview training, resume building, LinkedIn review and the like.

It has priced its services in the Rs 2,000–15,000 range.

 

MBA Crystal Ball

The outfit calls itself an admission consultant and largely offers admission consulting and application review services for MS, MIM, MFIN and MBA abroad.

Its offerings include the MBA mock application process, help with programme selection, career goals and admission strategy.

Other services include guidance in the essay, statement of purpose and interview, along with GMAT exam preparation material for free.

On the career counselling side, it offers online career counselling in select cities.

There are several free resources online on its website.

It also provides career counselling for those stuck in a mid-career crisis.

The price range for their services varies.

For instance, the MBA Map offering -- consisting of a package of the mock interview, mini MBA essays, resume review, MBA profile evaluation, B-school selection, application storyline plus recommender choice, post-MBA career validation -- costs Rs 39,000.

Career counselling service for those with a mid-career crisis is Rs 22,000.

 

Dheya

It offers career planning and guidance to both students and working professionals.

Says Arvind Gupta, director at Dheya Career Mentors, "Dheya works on a community concept of senior professionals. We have locations across India."

For working professionals, it offers both early and mid-career planning services that broadly involve psychometric tests and one-on-one sessions priced at Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively.

For students, the career planning programme can start at Rs 13,000.

Gupta says, "It includes competency mapping, wherein experts correlate competency mapping with various possible career options.

"Further, mentors map value systems with the candidate's personality, abilities, interests, career preferences and review them.

"The process will also include visualisation to help candidates understand their aspirations and introspect.

Based on all these factors, the firm offers an exhaustive Career Development Roadmap of 36 months.

A career guidance programme for grades 12 and 10 helps students identify their unique abilities and choose a career path that isn't just scientifically chosen, but is aligned with their interests, inclinations and skills sets.

The fee-based programme is priced in a range of Rs 9,999 to Rs 19,999.

 

The Chopras

One of the oldest names in the career counselling space, the Chopras provides several offerings.

Its popular offering is the abroad university admission service based on a psychometric test with other value-added services such as profiling, interview preparation and visa counselling.

It does not charge a fee for admissions to most of the universities it has tie-ups with.

Tanvi Shriyan, a 20-something student pursuing luxury brand management in the UK says, "I initially wanted to do an MBA. But I heard about luxury brand management at The Chopras and took an assessment.

"The evaluation said that luxury brand management would be a suitable course for me as per my skill set and natural ability and interests; The Chopras helped me shortlist a few universities.

"I selected from that list and they also assisted with paperwork and other formalities."

Today, there are as many approaches to career counselling. You only need to know what you are looking for.

If you need in-depth advice and hand-holding at each step, go for it.

If all you need is someone to do your paperwork, go for that.

If you are stuck in a job where you aren't growing, mid-career counselling is a good idea.

It's time to AI-proof our jobs and visiting a career counsellor is just the first step.

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Bindisha Sarang
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