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Career development at Erudito Licėjus: a journey of competence, self-discovery, and exploration from the very first grades

As much as 70 percent of people in Lithuania do not enjoy the work they do. This statistic was presented by career consultant Rytis Jurkėnas during the conference “Future – Connection with Children” held in November. In order to change the future career scenarios, “Erudito” licėjus initiates the development of competencies from the earliest grades, aiming to help students understand themselves better and discover their career paths.

“Career is a journey, not a final destination“

States Gintarė Klimienė, a career specialist at Vilnius’ “Erudito” licėjus. “Profession and career are two different things”, she emphasizes. “We acquire a profession through studies or qualifications, while a career is the path we take with one or another profession. Therefore, through career education, we aim to highlight the importance of competencies, self-discovery, and exploration on the career path. In this way, we hope that students will understand that a career is a journey, not a final stop.”

The triangle of career competencies at “Erudito” licėjus looks like this: even preschool and early grades’ students are taught self-awareness, which later becomes very useful when delving into future career possibilities in grades 5–8. From grades 9–12, students transition to stages of career planning and implementation. The youngest students start by acquainting themselves with career information systems (e.g., “Mukis”, the vocational guidance and counseling development project in Lithuania and Europe called “Euroguidance”, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman’s Office-initiated YouTube series “Why Not?”, and similar platforms) and other virtual tools. They learn to understand themselves, recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and identify their needs. Career guidance nurtures student competencies such as self-awareness, creativity, and communication. The goal is to cultivate independent, diligent, friendly, and civic-minded individuals.

“Career education in school, I believe, is important also because it involves a lot of self-awareness, which is highly needed for a growing individual, exploring oneself and one’s environment”, asserts G. Klimienė. Quality assistance from career specialists is highly significant for students as it aids in absorbing methodological content in the learning process, purposefully fosters students’ career competencies, broadens understanding of various professions, encourages non-stereotypical career choices, and provides individual career education consultations as needed at “Erudito” licėjus. Furthermore, it is beneficial for the state itself because professional career educators, who continually enhance their professional competencies and create and manage career orientation programs, help shape a strong and successful career culture in Lithuania, promote talent retention, innovation, and growth.

“Erudito” Hour – Engaging in Career Conversations

“Working with students from grades 5–8 poses the most challenges because some of the career education content might be too serious while others might seem too easy. Therefore, each specialist must put in endless efforts to find what suits this age group best”, says career consultant and “Euroguidance” ambassador in Lithuania, Laurynas Puidokas. Hence, career education content is often integrated into other subjects and activities. For instance, at “Erudito” licėjus, efforts are made to combine students’ areas of interest with projects of community value (CAS, Community, Action, Service) and volunteer activities. The Lyceum collaborates with Lithuanian universities (Vilnius University, Vytautas Magnus University, ISM University of Management and Economics, Kaunas University of Technology, etc.), their representatives participate in career discussions and business project presentations, and Lyceum students take part in their educational and demonstrative lectures. Students receive newsletters on career education practices, career paths and choices, development of necessary traits, suitable subjects for the International Baccalaureate (IB), and efforts are made to discuss and introduce students to ATL (Approaches to Learning) skills, which are nurtured in the IB program and highly valuable in their future career paths.

Throughout November, lectures on various career opportunities were held for “Erudito” licėjus students (“Experience VDU” in Kaunas, ISM lectures for International Baccalaureate (IB, grades 11–12) students in Lithuanian and English), and students from grades 4–7 visited the filming of the LRT television show “Čia Dabar?!”.

One of the distinguishing features of “Erudito” licėjus is the “Erudito” Hour. Students spend special time with their class teachers in Lyceum or city spaces. During this hour, various professionals (writers, communication managers, entrepreneurs, representatives from KTU Faculty of Business, diplomats, signatories of the Act of Independence of Lithuania like Algirdas Kumža, political scientists, human rights, real estate investment, financial specialists, military personnel, actors, and representatives from other professions) are invited to the Lyceum. Almost all of them emphasize the importance of self-awareness and making responsible career choices.

Students at “Erudito” licėjus engage in discussions with their class tutors about the concept of career, career opportunities, the subjects necessary for choosing a specific profession, the influence of technology on future professions, and similar topics. According to tenth graders, a career and career path are what you love doing, what you do well, and continuously improve. As stated by the aforementioned career consultant, R. Jurkėnas, the happiest person truly feels fulfilled when they work in what they love and excel at.

Teachers Worked as Waiters and Bakers

Career talks, where school teachers share stories about their career paths, play a significant role in creating and nurturing Lyceum traditions. In November, during the “Erudito” Hour, the Lyceum’s primary grade students were invited to career discussions. The first session in Vilnius took place on November 17th and was dedicated to students from grades 5–7. Students engaged in discussions about future professions (which ones might vanish and which will be relevant and in demand) with Gintare Aldonyte, the head of the Vilnius branch of “Erudito” licėjus, psychologist Virginija Rekiene, and music teacher Dovalde Ulčinaite. Last Friday, on November 24th, during the second career event in the “Erudito” Hour, students from grades 8–10 conversed in English and asked questions to our Cambridge and International Baccalaureate (IB) program teachers: Kevin Morice (Mathematics and Theory of Knowledge), Jens Vandevyvere (English), and Chloé Boyaval (French). Students from grades 7–8 were particularly intrigued by the various jobs these teachers held before becoming educators, especially those who arrived from different countries to work in Lithuania, the years they started teaching, why they like “Erudito” licėjus, and why they chose this school, and similar topics. Many were surprised to learn that the English language teacher, Jens Vandevyvere, had worked in a cemetery and many other jobs, while the French language teacher, Chloé, worked as a waitress while studying. She decided to become a teacher while traveling in Australia. “Not knowing what to do next in life, I took a year to contemplate and went to Australia. The next day, I already knew the answer – that I wanted to be a teacher”, said the French language teacher, who enjoys challenges. According to Chloé, traveling taught her a lot about herself.

“Strive to be the best you can be”, advises English teacher Jens Vandevyvere, adding that it is much harder to achieve than it appears. What helps? Consistent daily work and not giving up – striving to do something better today than yesterday, not dwelling on failures, and moving forward. “The desire to strive, grow, and improve can move mountains”, Jens believes. He feels passionate about learning and teaching, evolving, and helping young people develop.

On November 24th, students from grades 9–10 at “Erudito” licėjus in Kaunas visited Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) and had a practical career education session with lecturer and career consultant Daiva Pugavičienė, titled “Communication means not only giving but also receiving”. During this session, students enhanced skills necessary for their career paths. November was dedicated to discussions about volunteering, and the class tutors paid a lot of attention to exploring volunteer opportunities.

Students also engage in self-awareness tasks and participate in self-awareness sessions. “Getting to know yourself, discovering what you like and what you don’t, is a crucial task. Therefore, using various methods, we aim to help young people plan their personal careers successfully, thus deliberately nurturing career-relevant competencies”, states Goda Stelnionienė, a career specialist at “Erudito” licėjus in Kaunas.