Career development is considered by many to be an integral part and parcel of anyone’s training who fathoms her- or himself as going into business. It used to be the case that young people used to graduate from school, take an entry-level position with a company, and then over the years rise through the ranks and eventually retire from that company after a life-long service.

In today’s fast-paced and every-changing global economy, such loyalty to a company – or to an employee for that matter – is unheard of. Add to this the fact that entry level jobs are no longer for the recent graduates and young people, but more and more often fall to the more seasoned job-changers, it is not surprising that colleges have taken to preparing their graduates to excel in the job market with classes on career development.

Yet did you know that the person who may very well be credited with the concept of career development is all but forgotten. If someone mentioned the name Frank Parsons to you, would you recognize it? Many probably would not, and it is not surprising, since he died almost 100 years ago. A teacher by profession, an engineer by training, and a suffragist and social reformer by passion, Mr. Parsons soon realized that his true calling was to help laborers, unemployed workers, recent immigrants, and those ready to leave academia to think through their career goals and choices.

Frank Parson’s did not realize his true calling until about seven years before his death, but in that short period of time he succeeded in making his services used at the Civic Service House which was a gift by a noted philanthropist of the time. He went on to expand his services in response to what he saw to be an overwhelming need for career guidance by not only the select few, but also by the masses, and his work was rewarded by the Boston heads of academia when they created a career counselor certification program for others who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Parsons.

His concepts were surprisingly simple, and are still in use today. First and foremost, Mr. Parsons wanted everyone entering the job market to consider what her or his talents and interests were. Not at all subscribing to the notion that any jobseeker should be grateful for whatever she or he
could get, he instead wanted individuals to take stock of their abilities and really think about what kind of work would make them happy and cause them to feel fulfilled. Secondly, he wanted the jobseeker to continue taking stock of the employment situation by having knowledge about the jobs that were available, the pay they offered, and the foreseeable ladder of success that would await a qualified worker. Then, he would help workers to decide if they liked what they saw, or if perhaps a different line of work or even company would be in their better interests.

By Lela

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