Career Guidence

Why Career Planning for Students Starts with Exploring Identity

One of the biggest challenges facing our current generation of students is preparing for a dynamic workforce never before seen. New jobs are being created every day. In fact, many students are being prepared for jobs and careers that donít even exist.

Creating and Understanding Identity

Our approach to career planning is driven by personal development. Itís much harder for students to think about the future without a firm sense of who they are. It is for this reason my career classes donít start with a list of jobs and what students want to do in five years. Today, industries rise and fall, so being very externalized (job title, salary, etc.) about a specific career may not serve students well in the 21st century. Having a skill set with multiple pathways will always be more fulfilling, especially when that skill set and those pathways lead to a particular set of values or ways of expressing oneís identity.

Our identity is shaped by external forces all the time, so itís important to put those things into perspective. One of my courses started with helping students think about the context that shaped their past. We did this by creating family trees, only with careers. Students were able to not only identify attitudes and stereotypes from the careers of their siblings, parents, grandparents, etc., but also how the past was informing who they are in the present. Once students had a solid sense of who they are in the present (as informed by their past), they then thought about different life paths and what they want their future to look like.


Developed by Dr. Mohamed Rifas