Every person’s dream is to land a career that satisfies their passions and financial success. However, many find themselves on the wrong path, thus implying that career counseling has become a crucial part of today’s job environment. Many students fail to acquire the right skills and lack the mentorship necessary to take them to the next stage in their careers (Pulliam & Bartek, 2018). For this reason, many people graduate hoping to enjoy their jobs, only to realize that they need a career change (Hartung & Cadaret, 2017). Career planning for graduates is an important step because it helps them decide the right path and follow it thus minimizing the losses that accrue from wrong career choices. This paper presents a case study of a graduate in need of career counseling. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a career plan designed to help graduates identify the viable career options that will result in meaningful work and job satisfaction. The career plan will begin with an exploration of the client’s career options and factors leading to the various choices. The second part will include the insight which entails a deeper understanding of the client’s situation, their strengths, and weaknesses. Lastly, the career plan will demonstrate the action plan and follow-up activities in line with the client’s career choice.
Alvin is a 25-year-old African American who has lived in Chicago since childhood. He was born in Chicago and since his dad worked as a postman, he spent most of his time there. His mother is a housewife and Alvin is the eldest in his family. His two brothers and one sister are all in high school, with the second-born about to graduate from high school by the end of the year. During holidays, he had been visiting his aunt who lives in New York, and remembers wishing he would relocate there once he gets a good job after school. Alvin has always wanted to be a good role model to his siblings and help his parents in their financial responsibilities. Although his parents are not rich, Alvin managed to get a good quality education with the help of bursaries and scholarships. After high school, he joined college where he studied Bachelor of Commerce and graduated. A few months after graduation, he managed to get an internship at the Chicago Community Bank.
Working at the bank seemed like a breakthrough for him at the beginning. For a young graduate, his dreams were to complete the internship term and be absorbed at the bank. However, as months passed by, he realized that he was having difficulty doing the same routine jobs as they seemed not to help him grow. At the same time, his parents feel that it’s time he started saving and move out of the family house and probably start helping his siblings. The main challenge now is that he finds no satisfaction in his line of work and the pressure from his family is mounting. He has a girlfriend who is in her final year at the university studying statistics. He is not sure whether he should proceed with his work at the bank or try a new avenue. He discussed his predicament with his girlfriend who advised him to seek career counseling. He has come for counseling because he needs to identify the right path for him before it is too late. His goal is to find a job he can enjoy doing and meet his financial obligations. He wouldn’t want to burden his parents any further and there he wants to embark on a journey that will bring meaning to his career and enable him to balance work and relationships.
Stage 1: Exploration
Alvin’s case requires a multi-dimensional approach that traverses educational, social, and personal interests. Following the Hill and O’Brien (1999) Model, Alvin’s career plan can be developed to help him identify viable career choices, evaluate them and settle with one that satisfies him. At this stage, it is crucial to establish a rapport with Alvin and encourage him to open up on his situation. One of the best tools to use in this case is giving Alvin examples of other clients who faced similar challenges. This way, he will realize that he is not alone and will open up on any other factors limiting his success as far as career growth is concerned. The first step is to welcome Alvin, and carefully listen to his story while jotting down the demographic and social-cultural factors influencing his career development. The second step is to analyze his case and identify a career theory that can be used to develop viable solutions for Alvin’s predicament.
Alvin’s career development can be viewed from the aspects of educational influence, interests, and life responsibilities. Ginzberg’s theory of vocational choice provides a framework for analyzing Alvin’s case and developing a career plan. According to Ginzberg (1988), a career plan is a long-life process as seen in Alvin’s case. As a child, Alvin had an interest in solving economical problems. The parents took him to school which allowed him to further his interests. As an adolescent, Alvin explored his skills by enrolling in a Bachelor of Economics course. At this point, he has reached the adulthood stage described by Ginzberg (19880), whereby he is looking for a career change due to the challenges he has encountered. Following this theory, I would guide Alvin to analyze his interests, financial responsibilities, socio-economic factors, and career guidance to identify the best alternatives. These activities are crucial because they highlight his expectations and goals as well as social responsibilities. From the third step, we would then address the factors affecting his decision, weaknesses, and strengths.
Stage 2: Insight
Decision-making at this stage requires a deeper insight into the social, economic, and personal attributes involved. The first area to focus on is Alvin’s interests and goals. The main problem is dissatisfaction which could be brought about by wrong career choices, financial instability, or comparison with friends. At this stage, Alvin should specifically point out the main reason behind the dissatisfaction. According to Badrolhisam et al. (2019), salary and benefits play a significant role in employee job satisfaction. To gain a deeper insight into the underlying factors, I would give Alvin a piece of paper to indicate his level of satisfaction with salary, benefits, fellow employees, and social responsibilities. This step is essential in identifying the most important factors that need to be addressed. The next step entails listing the goals that Alvin wants to achieve in his career. The goals often act as the motivation factors that will guide him to make the right steps.
At this stage, prioritization is essential to identify the steps that should come. Alvin should decide whether personal satisfaction comes before financial goals and social responsibilities. For instance, would he follow a path that would satisfy him without much pay, or would he prefer a well-paying job that does not please him? Answering this question would lead us to the next stage of an action plan. According to the social cognitive career theory, there should be a balance between personal satisfaction and expected benefits (Brown & Lent, 2019). The action plan is mainly based on the insight gained from Alvin’s response and the prevailing market demands and career options.
Stage 3: Action
The main problem identified from Alvin’s case is a mismatch between career interests and market demands. He wants a well-satisfying job that will provide sustainable income. His priority is personal growth and career development because he wants to settle for a job that will enable him to support his needs and those of his family. At this point, I would advise him to evaluate additional options such as training as a financial advisor. This would give him the satisfaction of planning his schedule, thereby having free time for family and friends. I would also recommend additional career assessments to determine where his strengths are and follow them. Lastly, I would advise him to analyze the job requirements and benefits of accounting, finance, and entrepreneurship in line with his course and make a list for easy comparison. I would also ask him to focus on personal growth and not be weighed down by social expectations. I would follow up after two weeks to see the list he has developed and have a meeting to discuss his decision.
In essence, a career plan is a crucial step for establishing the career path ad eliminating doubts and mistakes. Alvin has trained in Bachelors of Economics but lacks the career guidance to understand the best occupation. From his background details, it is clear that he is the one to set the pace for his siblings. Although he has trained well, he needs to identify his most important needs and prioritize them. Personal growth should come first and for this reason, he should compare all the available options looking at the costs and benefits.
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