This week I participated in a 2 hour workshop organised by the local university to help future students on choosing which university degree to study. The workshop was for 17 years old students whom are finishing their secondary school this year and searching for their next step.
More than 60 students signed up for the workshop and the participants were divided into 3 groups of about 20 students each. Needless to say, I was the oldest person in the room. I introduced myself “My name is Denny. I am 41 years old and I am here to learn how to chose my profession/studies?” The facilitator kindly welcomed me and mentioned that it is never too late to discover one’s vocation.
There are 2 reason why I participate in the workshop. Firstly, is to sincerely learn about my own vocations and to interpret this within the context of choosing a profession. As if I am 17 years old. Secondly, I wanted to learn how a university helps student to choose their future profession. This allow me to better understand the mindset of future students and more importantly what possibility could be their needs – in other words how does the problem that I want to solve look like in real life.
Prior starting the workshop, the facilitator put our a big disclaimer saying that the workshop is meant to provide a set of tools (ie. 8 exercises) on how to choose and not what to choose. Hence tools to help them to think thru their choices. The idea is to triangulate between Self – Profession – Studies, by juxtaposing the elements in this three groups to draw a conclusion.
Exercise on Self include listing out my characters, personalities, current interests and future ambition; the Profession exercises include learning how to breakdown a profession into basic element such as it’s objective, tasks, the means to achieve, the objects, things or people involved, the working conditions and to describe my ideal profession. Finally, combined all the desired elements in Self and Profession, and to match it to a studies that could lead to such profession. In other words to choose amongst a list of 290+ type of bachelor and master degrees (of known professions). Here I joked with my neighbour that if the 290+ degrees represents the studies for the 35% of known professions – how about the other type of studies for the remaining 65% of future job that does not exist yet today?
I completed the exercises and showed it to the facilitator – we discussed briefly and it seem that I should opt for the studies on human resources management. I have to say that it was an interesting conclusion. Given the current project I am working on (to starting a school) was I biased at the start of the exercise?. On the other hands, I felt that the exercises on Self, seem to be a bit simplistic and creates more questions, such as how can I integrate all the divergent interests into one profession? how can I gauge my own analysis? The importance of self awareness, for us to be self directed? or to be open or comfortable of knowing that it is not the destination but the journey that matters?
At the end I talked to 8 participants to get their feedback on the session. 3 participants whom was unsure what to choose before the workshop came out as clueless as before. 3 participants said that it was very helpful for them. 2 others said the exercises just confirmed their initial idea. I collected the email address of 11 students whom agreed to participant in a survey that I will be sending out soon to understand how we decide which studies to select and (probably) to provide them with an alternative and complementary framework to help them get closer in answering this important question. To be continued