Interview with a job counsellor

*The interviewee wishes to remain anonymous

Organisation responsible for the interview: Wisamar

Country: Germany

Occupation: Job Counseling

Short summary of the interview

This interview was with a team from a public organisation, that councils especially young, disadvantaged people about further education and career choices. It holds great information about personal and structural circumstances that influence the target groups’ career choices.

Statements of utmost importance – top statements/ information

Usually, young people have a “plan” of what career they want to choose. Those are in most cases known/visible occupations, or the ones of parents/family/acquaintances, occupations that match skills/interests, occupations close to their home, based on recommendations or those where they already gained experience through mini-jobs. Of interest are especially the fields of trade, delivery, warehouse, automotive, social, and medicine. An interesting observation is, that working 40 hours per week and earning a lot of money are becoming less desirable.

The main influences when it comes to career choices are: parents/family (they play a very significant role!), friends/acquaintances, visible/well-known professions, media representation of jobs, expectations of society (stereotypical, stereotyped professions), the image of professions, earning opportunities for professions, own views on profession and their own future (–> what is important to me in life?)

Of course, one’s own abilities and interests also play a significant role and educational qualifications also play significant roles. Other factors are how much decision-making competencies have been “learned” by a person and how much independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence they were able to develop.

As mentioned earlier, the family plays a very significant role in the career choices of their children. They want the best for their children, and have good intentions, but are also afraid their child might make a “wrong” decision. Parents often transfer their own fears, ideas, desires, etc. to their children.

Other very important factors are social norms and cultural expectations. Public perception/expectations of professions shape the professional image and therefore also the choice of young people. Even rigid ideas about the topic of work (40-hour workweek as the norm, profession being the main priority in life, etc.) can sometimes unsettle young people in their own ideas about a “good life”.

Last but not least, personal biases and preconceptions play in career choices. Many fears and misconceptions are also associated with it and prejudices are often shaped by parents, media, and society. (Especially services/crafts are getting an increasingly worse image.) As counsellors, they try to address and identify prejudices. To them, it is important to enable young people to form their own opinions or encourage them to do so. They always try to address reservations and fears but do not consciously deter anyone from “stereotypical” career choices. The decision ultimately rests with the young person. However, increasing awareness among those seeking advice, colleagues, and employers is also essential to overcome those issues.

Other issues they have to deal with are sexism (especially women working in an office) and racism (especially men with a migration history working delivery jobs).