Archive for category CDL

What is our output?

Audio by Sergiu Bacioiu

So, do your dials go up to 11?

I’ve been having some very interesting conversations lately on LinkedIn groups.

In one discussion, a Canadian career service manager described how his team had been increasingly using the term ‘career literacy’ to describe what they were trying to develop in their students. He asked what we thought of the term.

Part of me really likes the idea of literacy as a set of skills that enables you to interact with information. According to the UNESCO definition, literacy involves “a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society“. That fits rather well with the aims of a careers service.

My reservation with the term is that, in a university setting, literacy could be interpreted as rather a basic level of learning. By the time students have reached university, they should have gone beyond literacy and be operating in the realm of analysis and critical thinking. Would it have face value with the academic community?

So, what other terms could we use and what would they imply? Can we come up with something which appeals to those who are looking at immediate solutions as well as giving a strong message about developing an ability to deal with issues over the entire course of your career?

This kicked the random word generator in my brain into overdrive and I tried to come up with a range of phrases to describe what we are trying to nurture in our clients.
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The fun theory

A while ago I was running a workshop on career choice. After we had explored all the various things that one should be doing to increase one’s chances of making a good decision, one of the participants looked at me with a rather glum expression and said ‘That sounds like too much hard work! Even though I know I should do it, I’m not sure I will. It’s not much fun.’

I had to agree with her. The way I was presenting it made it sound really onerous, responsible and worthy. Surely, there must be another way!

OK, The Fun Theory isn’t a career theory, it’s not really a theory at all. It’s a competition and marketing initiative by Volkswagen which involves coming up with ideas to encourage people to do responsible things (such as recycling and doing more exercise) by making them more fun. See the video below for a way to get people to take the stairs rather than the escalator.

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Storyboarding

Tell me a story

Bill Law, the man behind Career Learning Theory and Community Interaction Theory, has recently been focusing on the use of narrative techniques in careers education. His most recent idea is the use of storyboarding as a way of exploring and understanding career choice.

In storyboarding, you sketch a sequence of key scenes in the development of your career thinking — key events and influential moments. You can also attempt to speculate on possible future stories as a form of creative envisioning and action planning.

Although much of this is primarily aimed at school-age careers work, it could be an interesting technique to use with more creative or visually-oriented students (English, Drama, Film, Media, Fine Art, etc.). It may also be a technique that engages the right side of the brain as well as the left.

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Is ‘management’ the wrong word?

Careers may just be too complex to 'manage'

At a recent workshop I was running for medical educational supervisors we were discussing why the provision of careers support for doctors is now such a big issue. In the words of one of the consultants: ‘You used to be able to bum around for ages as a house officer until you worked out what you liked and disliked. Now you have the two years of your foundation programme and you are expected to know enough about the whole of medicine to make a sensible decison about your entire future.’ This was backed up by stories from the consultants about their haphazard career paths, full of wrong turnings, unexpected discoveries and random opportunities.

I find it somewhat ironic, therefore, that one of the most commonly used phrases in this new career support is ‘career planning’. ‘Planning’, with its implication of being able to predict, decide and control the future seems an inappropriate concept for many of the foundation doctors I have met. Even the fairly self-contained world of the medical profession is subject to social and technological changes that see the waning of certain specialties and the rapid growth of new ones, so that it is hard to predict what an area of medicine will look like by the time you are qualified to practise it.

Outside of medicine, I have noticed that we tend to use the term ‘career management’, which, if slightly less prophetic than ‘planning’, still presents the assumption of control. Of course the currently correct terminology for what we do is ‘career development learning‘, but surely we don’t call it that in front of the students! So what do we call it? Is ‘career management’ the right phrase to use?

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