Maryann Keating: AI’s advice on careers

Certain high schoolers have definite professional goals and informed parents. Others are inclined towards careers about which they and their parents are clueless. How can students and their parents get a handle on what is required for entry into certain occupations?

A quick start is to prompt artificial intelligence (AI) to list requirements. In a matter of seconds, ChatGPT, one of many Artificial Intelligence programs, provided the following information for a career in nursing (accessed June 4, 2024):

  • First, a student, thinking about a career in nursing, must decide between an associate degree to become a licensed practical nurse (typically taking two or three years) or a bachelor of science to become a registered nurse (taking four years). Both programs require college-level courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, and psychology. The bachelors option requires additional liberal arts and mathematics classes.
  • After checking out colleges offering an accredited nursing degree and becoming enrolled, a student usually needs to gain acceptance into the program. Most nursing programs require a minimum grade point average (GPA) in overall coursework and specific science courses. Some even require a standardized entrance exam to assess readiness for nursing coursework.
  • Once accepted into a nursing program, a student must complete a set number of clinical hours in various healthcare settings. At the same time, they must maintain good grades in both theoretical and practical classes. Nursing students might also be expected to pass background checks, be screened for drugs and provide proof of immunizations.
  • Upon graduating, nurses in the U.S. must become licensed. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) need to have passed the NCLEX-PN exam and Registered Nurses (RNs), the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Once licensed, graduates can be employment as nurses. If they choose to specialize, additional certifications may be needed.

Turning our attention to a completely different career, we quizzed ChatGPT on how to advise a teen expressing an interest in becoming a professional actor. The following is a summary of its response:

  • While in high school, a student is advised to participate in school plays, amateur films, local theater productions and community drama groups. Such experiences are valuable for building a resume and gaining exposure.
  • Concerning education and training, local theater groups sometimes offer workshops to learn the basics of acting. Thereby, the student gains confidence and learns to tolerate rejection. Furthermore, a teen might consider attending a drama-focused high school or applying to a performing arts college that offers rigorous training.
  • Aside from formal training, each aspiring actor builds a personal portfolio highlighting any acting experience, training, singing, and dancing skills, plus any ability to enunciate in several languages. Professional photos are required for casting calls and auditions.
  • A reputable talent agent is generally sought for help in finding auditions and negotiating contracts. It is also possible to discover audition opportunities by signing up with online casting platforms. Attendance at industry events, workshops, and film festivals is encouraged in order to meet professionals and learn about the industry.

Note that ChatGPT responds only to questions posed. Therefore, the two paths presented address neither career financing nor spin-offs into associated fields. Financing and spin-offs could be examined in a separate prompt. The original response does allude, however, to the importance of appropriate high school electives and activities in realistically assessing future success and a student’s willingness to pursue a particular course of studies.

Is AI completely accurate and up-to-date? Not necessarily; it merely offers a blueprint for further discussion with high school and college counselors.

There is no substitute for parent support, and, ideally, a high school student has personal contact with someone active in his or her field of interest. Nevertheless, artificially generated career information has value. Check it out.

Maryann O. Keating of South Bend is an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and a co-author of “Microeconomics for Public Managers,” (Wiley/Blackwell). This commentary previously appeared at inpolicy.org. Send comments to [email protected].