A typical career day in a secondary school usually ends up being a guidance and counselling session for the students. Due to a lack of career mentorship resources, the speakers usually resort to talking about themselves and giving moral advice, and rarely have any practical information to share with the students about careers. Most of the students use that time to catch up on homework or sleep.

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‘’In learning you will teach. In teaching you will learn.’’  - Phil Collins

It is for this reason that we conducted Career Teachers’ Training on Friday, 28th July 2017. It was attended by 30 teachers drawn from five counties. During introductions, there was a general consensus among the teachers that even though they were known as ‘career teachers’, it was just a title. The teachers had very little knowledge about the huge and expanding range of careers and the courses required for students to explore. A simple question from the students would result in to a quick google search for answers; which were generalized most of the time and not very useful. Again, they also taught other subjects, making it difficult to find time to do further research into careers.

The teachers were then trained on how prepare for career guidance sessions and how to deliver reliable and relevant information to their students who also looked up to them as mentors. They were also advised on how to set up a vibrant career office separately from the guidance and counselling one, and equip it with resource materials for use by both teachers and students. This would serve as a safe space for the students to ask career related questions.

 The training also explored the different available possibilities to career teachers when it came to planning and conducting mentorship sessions for students. A key factor explored was encouraging the involvement of alumni in mentorship. This was championed by Karoti Girls alumni chairperson who was in attendance and had previously conducted a successful career day in her former school. It was a wonderful thing for the teachers to have firsthand account on how to plan and execute a careers day.  To get a feel of the resource materials the teachers attempted the career assessment test as outlined in the Discover Your Career workbook. From this exercise the teachers were able to understand that career planning and development is not about good grades only but also other personal factors like values, interests and personality. The teachers acknowledged the workbook was very relevant in subject and university selection. They were also impressed by hundreds of careers detailed in the Careerpedia encyclopedia, especially the emerging careers in the job market. This was a huge sigh of relief to them, as they would now go back to school with the career resource materials and use them to provide the correct career advice to the students.

At the end of the training session, the teachers agreed that one day was a very short time to learn everything they needed to know. With more time, the training sessions would cover more topics and more career teachers could be invited.

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As they went home, this is what some of the teachers had to say:

“This is an important organization to Kenyan students in careers. The Discover Your Career workbook is very innovative. I wish all Form 4 students could have the book in Form 2 before they select subjects.’’ – Samson Mahugu, Buruburu Girls Secondary School.

“What I have learned here today has motivated me to guide my students in the best way possible, something I am now able to do thanks to the Careerpedia resource materials.’’ – Mrs. Adolwa, Our Lady of Mercy.

“I am so glad I came today. Not only have I connected with many other career teachers, but I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and understanding about careers that I’m very eager to share with my students. I also can’t wait to fire up the alumni to start mentorship in my school. Good job!’’ – Job Abanga, Fr Heeran Girls.

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