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Career Counselor Expert Gives Students Sound Advice for Job Hunting

Vocation vs. Avocation

Career Counselor Expert Gives Students Sound Advice for Job Hunting

SAN DIEGO—“I admit it,” says Doug Elliot, Career Counselor at San Diego Continuing Education, “I’m too tightly strung to have a hobby.” Elliot has multiple jobs, but only one that pays.

At work I’m an adult education career counselor. At home I’m a bricklayer, tile setter, gardener, carpenter, piano player, cook, and researcher,” says Elliot. It is possible for people to turn hobbies into a paycheck, but deciding on a line of work is a serious decision. Elliot advises students he counsels at Continuing Education to base career choices on interests, skills, knowledge, and the availability of real jobs.

When searching for paid work, it is critical to demonstrate you have an interest as well as the ability to perform the work required of the job. For example, if you say you love gardening, yet, have not planted anything in many years, it would be difficult to find paid work in a nursery. Unless you have recent knowledge and/or skills training in horticulture, employers may determine that you have wilted interests and unfertilized skills, and would likely have a hard time finding a good reason to hire you.

Students often have difficulty separating what interests them now; from what will interest them in the future. A student may have unbridled enthusiasm for working with horses as a veterinary assistant one day, but after working on a project at school, they may shift interests and become excited about animation software. This constant change of focus creates a challenge. Students must be able to sort through all the interests they have, and choose a direction toward paid employment. They must be able to pursue and obtain a job that can support a current lifestyle now, as well as into the future.

Elliot explains two keys that help students sort through career options: communication and information. “Communicating with others about what you are considering, and gathering information to learn everything you can about your options are both critical,” he says.

Internet resources can help with both. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites allow students to easily connect with others, including potential employers. However, Elliot cautions students accordingly about the internet. “I tell students to keep in mind that meeting someone face-to-face in the real world vs. tweeting with someone in the virtual world is still the best way to connect with others—especially professionals,” he says.

Another idea Elliot shares with his students is the idea of job shadowing. It’s a perfect way to see someone doing what a student might like to do someday. Elliot helps some of his students at Continuing Education create an internship to get a more hands-on feel for a job.

My vocation (from the Latin word vox meaning voice or calling) is my paying job,” says Elliot. “My other vocations, or avocations, are the additional activities I do with a passion, which, by the way, do not include mowing lawns or washing cars.”

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San Diego Continuing Education is the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District. It was one of the first community college continuing education institutions in California to meet the standards for independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. More than 90,000 students are served per academic year at six main campuses in San Diego. Noncredit classes are available at no cost, including online options.

Classes are free because San Diego Continuing Education is part of the California system of higher education. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships

Due to current statewide fiscal constraints, many classes offered by San Diego Continuing Education are at capacity, and many have waiting lists. It is likely that students may not be able to enroll in the class of choice due to these fiscal constraints, and unprecedented student demand. Continuing Education apologizes in advance for any inconvenience students may experience when attempting to enroll.