Career Story: Director Of A Vocational Counseling Service

Director Of A Vocational Counseling Service

Job Title: Director Of Vocational Programs

Type of Company: To give indigent people the skills they need to find employment.

Education: BA, Sociology •• MA, Education

Previous Experience: I worked at a government-funded job placement program and another for high school drop-outs.

Job Tasks: I was responsible for the funding and administration of 8-10 vocational programs that were sponsored by the federal government. But while the programs varied, they all focused on assisting the indigent or unemployed acquire job skills, preparing them to work as secretaries, nurse's aides and mechanics. Some of the courses we offered, though popular at first, became the victims of changing technology. Airline reservations handling was one such program, and demand for welders and food service workers also dropped off as employment trends around us took their toll.

We were billeted in a high school, and my work day mirrored that of the school, running from 8am to 3pm, though it was necessary sometimes to work later and see some students after class. I worked summers, but the hours were shorter and the work load was lighter, since we had fewer programs running in the summer.

The interaction with students was always interesting: sometimes lively and sometimes stressful. This career path is an alternative to teaching or counseling .

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job was getting a "Thank you" from a student who'd landed a job. The gratification of working with people and seeing them change and grow can be tremendous.

The worst part was dealing with students who didn't want to improve or even be in the program, who'd been forced to take part by the courts or their parents.

Job Tips: Realize that you cannot help everyone. Be patient and understanding. Educate yourself: a masters degree will bring you better pay in most agencies. Try to be creative in your approach with students. People learn in different ways.

Additional Thoughts: We scheduled a career fair with a local newspaper. The response was twenty times what we'd anticipated. It was a creative approach to helping the students learn how to interview. Those types of ideas are instrumental in keeping things fresh and exciting. Don't be afraid to step out of the box to get where you want to be.

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