Use Internet for career guidance and counselling
Delta Milayo Ndou #digitaldialogue
I encountered the concept of career guidance and counselling in high school and attended one or two school-organised events where several businesses and professionals took time to educate us on how to enter their respective sectors.
I don’t rate the experience highly and my recollection of it is fuzzy because I was left none the wiser as to what path to pursue. Whilst it is admirable that many schools set aside time to hold career guidance and counselling fairs, these events often occur once a year and tend to be peripheral in terms of priority when compared to other school activities.
At least schools try. In most homes, career guidance and counselling often starts and ends with asking children “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I think parents can and should do more to guide and counsel their children.
For instance, encouraging them to acquire Internet skills and digital literacy is a good place to start. It may seem like a taxing undertaking for parents to find time and resources to equip their children with digital and self-taught skills that can help them qualify for entry in the workforce of the future, but it is now vital to have such skills.
The Internet holds immense potential to help our young people acquire first-rate skills and knowledge — for free.
Perhaps it is high time that career guidance and counselling begin at home. Parents need to start imagining the possibilities and encouraging their children to not only explore those possibilities but to believe that opportunities are within reach.
Internet can empower your child
Raising children is often a preparatory stage because it is aimed at ensuring children grow up to be successful in whatever endeavour they choose.
While it is not possible for every parent to afford an Internet connection or the devices for a child to connect, it is possible to open children’s minds to the possibilities the Internet can afford them.
At least let that be a part of their consciousness — that there is something to be gained by learning to use the Internet. For those parents who can afford home Internet (which by the way costs roughly $30 per month depending on what type of connection you use), it would be a worthwhile investment.
In past articles, I have written about free online courses offered by Ivy League institutions like the free and 15-week-long “Principles of Biochemistry” course offered by Harvard University — what if your A-Level child tried that out?
Stanford University’s School of Engineering offers free videos on topics such “iPhone Application Programming” from part of their iPhone Application Development (CS193P) course — wouldn’t your child who’s waiting on results or waiting for a job benefit from trying that out or something similar?
Such free Internet resources lower the barrier to acquiring knowledge such that even if a parent may never afford to send their child to an Ivy League college, the child can still gain an Ivy League education over the Internet.
I have also written on the benefits of using YouTube to gain self-taught digital skills like web development — what if your O-Level child tried that out even as a hobby, surely they would gain something.
Since many of these free resources are in the format of videos and are downloadable, it would be possible to just download course material online for the benefit of your child.
There is something to learn, something to gain and some skill to acquire online if you take the time to look.
Primary school-going children, for instance, can keep watching their cartoons, but also have access to animated videos of their school material through e-learning platforms like Extramarks (used by more than nine million students globally) so that they revise and retain what they have been taught.
It would be a disservice to defer career guidance and counselling because “things don’t look so bright in Zimbabwe right now”, when the Internet can be leveraged to give children a considerable advantage despite the trying economic climate.
Facebook is more than a playground. It is often viewed as a virtual playground where people go to meet up and have fun, share trivia and enjoy lighter moments.
There is a serious side to Facebook because so many digital communities congregate on Facebook pages and groups.
Notable persons like Strive Masiyiwa have and continue to impactfully harness Facebook as a mentorship platform, whilst entities like the Harvard Business Review have an active Facebook presence in the form of a page where they share video content on various business topics, tips and latest innovations.
Anyone from anywhere can access such pages and draw valuable knowledge from industry leaders and experts from various fields as long as they have Internet.
Given that digital communities congregate around shared interests, it is easy to identify like-minded individuals and to join pages that share content that aligns to one’s passions.
The opportunity to learn something new is availed every minute. Rather than asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, parents need to reflect on how they can help their children harness the vast opportunities to learn, grow and be equipped online.
Perhaps even siblings should take on that mantle because oftentimes, children are more tech savvy than their parents.
There is no reason to remain uninformed when one can access free knowledge online, especially if it is within their means to get connected.
Career guidance and counselling should be something parents proactively prioritise as they prepare their children to not only live in a digital age, but to thrive in it.
If it all sounds too easy, maybe it’s because it actually is.
- Delta is a digital evangelist who advocates for technology-driven solutions. Follow her on Twitter: @deltandou