Being a career counsellor is like wine, the older you are the better you get at your job. Luckily for us, there is no time pressure to reach the peak the way professional athletes are required to. As counsellors, we don’t get hit by a decline in processing speed either as speed is not the core of what we do. Quite the contrary, the knowledge, skills, and experiences that we accumulate over time help us to become more aware of ourselves, others and the world around us. It’s the “lived experience” that can’t be learned, the perspectives and maturity that help one to consider becoming a career counsellor.
I have been teaching/supervising aspiring counsellors for over 10 years and to be honest, I like seeing mid-career switchers in my class. There are some commonalities among us- such as wanting to help or make an impact. But interestingly, my students are often former HR people, bankers, service workers, or stay-at-home moms who have said that they often find themselves “counselling” without having formal training.
A career is defined as a collection or sequence of jobs that one has had over the course of their life. Having a career that is satisfying is a privilege. The jobs that one has are not always related, linear, and with clear career progression. One’s career has many unexpected twists and turns, and it is not unusual that people find themselves in a career pickle. Career satisfaction is a lifelong process that requires our active participation (it does not just happen!) Being in the wrong job feels like wearing shoes that do not fit.
Focus on what you know vs what you don’t. At times, it feels like we have too many questions and very few answers. Maybe you have had a successful career but find no meaning in it.
Focus on your values now.
Perhaps, you always wanted to be in the helping profession. A fulfilling career is a lifetime journey. Therefore, your values, your interests, and maybe even your non-negotiables change over time. In fact, they should! You are not the same person you were 20 years ago. You have learned new things about yourself and the world. Focus on your values now and what is important to you now. Rethink things and don’t continue doing the same thing just because you have done so in the past. If you are not sure, figure out what you need to know to start moving in the right direction. Stop, pause, regroup, and consult others about your options.