Sampling problems of professionals rounds out academic training

''People going into most kinds of professions are ignorant of what they're getting into,'' according to Scott Sebastian, holder of degrees in architecture and landscape architecture and director of the Career Discovery program at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.

''They lack information about what the profession involves. They're also missing the experience of what it's like to work in the field and to go to school, to work and study,'' whether the field is architecture, law, medicine, education, or business, etc. ''In something like design or anything related to art and creativity,'' Mr. Sebastian continues, ''they may not know whether they have the talent.''

That is why he recommends that universities and professional schools adopt the ''career discovery'' model for providing young people, or mid-career folks who have change on their minds, with a brief but intensive exposure to life in a particular job. Such programs would not have as their main goal the teaching of skills (though skills would be taught), but learning about how a career professional thinks, what problems he encounters, and what the pace and demands of a typical day are like.

Mr. Sebastian discovered that half of his 1981 program graduates would like to repeat their ''discovery'' experience - in a different field - although 70 percent also reported that they would probably become design professionals.

''This kind of program could be generalized across the entire university, maybe even allowing students to switch around during a summer program to be exposed to more than one field,'' he suggests.

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