Determining Interests, Values, and Skills
Students may meet with a career advisor one-on-one to discuss their interest and complete an interest assessment. Advisors meet with students to unpack interest assessments and provide guidance based on each individual’s unique goals and circumstances.
Encourage students to make an appointment through Handshake.
The following resources can be administered to students by a career professional.
Jackson Career Explorer (JCE)
JCE is a career-focused interest assessment that provides students with a comprehensive report detailing preferred job and education groups, basic interests, and work personality preferences. Additionally, the report provides links to O’Net job codes.
SkillScan is an interactive online career assessment that analyzes students’ core strengths and preferences. The report provides students with detailed information about strengths, targeted ideas for skills development, and suggestions for career and educational options.
Students will utilize a card deck to categorize their personal values. Through guided reflection, students can understand how their values impact their daily lives. Students can use this knowledge to determine the type of career and work environment that is in alignment with their core beliefs.
Students can schedule an appointment with a career professional in their college to discuss potential career paths. Students can schedule an appointment through Handshake. Additionally, students may explore career information through a variety of online resources:
The following articles address a variety of topics pertaining to students in higher education and their career and professional endeavors.
Creating Relevancy: Linking Classroom Content to Students’ Lives
Bernard, S. (2010, December 1). “Science Shows Making Lessons Relevant Really Matters” Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/neuroscience-brain-based-learning-relevance-improves-engagement
Briggs, S. (2014, October 4). “Relevant To Your Students (And Why It’s Crucial To Their Success)”informED. Retrieved from https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/how-to-make-learning-relevant/
Much, N. & Mentkowski, M. (1982). “Student Perspectives on Liberal Learning at Alverno College: Justifying Learning as Relevant to Performance in Personal and Professional Roles” National Inst. Of Education. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED239563
Roberson, R. (2013, September). “Helping students find relevance” Psychology Teacher Network. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/ptn/2013/09/students-relevance.aspx
Wyre, S. (2013, June 14). “The Importance of Relevancy in Improving Student Engagement and Learning” Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/faculty-development/the-importance-of-relevancy-in-improving-student-engagement-and-learning/
Academic Value of Internships
Binder, J.F., Baguley, T., Crook, C., Miller, F. (2015). The academic value of internships: Benefits across disciplines and student backgrounds. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 41, 73-82. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2014.12.001
Lester, S. & Costley, C. (2010) Work‐based learning at higher education level: value, practice and critique, Studies in Higher Education, 35:5, 561-575, Retrieved from DOI: 10.1080/03075070903216635
Building Employability Skills in the Classroom
Fallows, S., Steven,C., (2000) "Building employability skills into the higher education curriculum: a university‐wide initiative", Education + Training,Vol. 42 Issue: 2, pp.75-83, https://doi.org/10.1108/00400910010331620
Bridgstock, R. (2009) The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: enhancing graduate employability through career management skills, Higher Education Research & Development, 28:1, 31-44, DOI: 10.1080/07294360802444347
Helping Students Determine a Direction
Students often seek the advice of their advisors when they are unsure of their post-graduation futures. An advisor can provide guidance by directing students to appropriate resources, referring to career professionals, and engaging in focused and meaningful conversations. Students may need assistance in identifying their interests, determining the best career path to pursue, or creating an alternative career plan.
Conducting an Interest Inventory BUILD AWARENESS
Suggest a student speak with a career professional to take an appropriate interest assessment. Career professionals in each college are trained to administer and debrief career assessments with students. Concluding an interest assessment appointment, students will have a richer view of their preferred tasks and work environments, as well as, possess suggestions for occupations to further explore and targeted skills to further develop.
Connecting with Professionals BUILD RELATIONSHIPS BUILD AWARENESS
Often times students will have an idea of what a career entails but lack details and information that make it necessary to assess their own fit in relation to the profession. Recommend a student speak with individuals working within multiple fields. By engaging in informational interviews, students will gain a greater understanding of the nature of the work in a given industry. Students will be equipped with knowledge of the desired skills, experiences, and potential pathways to each career area of interest. The resulting “career clarity” can provide students with confirmation that a particular path may be right for them, or that a certain career is not what they initially thought. Both of these outcomes are beneficial and important for students to discover as early as possible.
Professional Associations BUILD RELATIONSHIPS BUILD EXPERIENCE
Professional associations can be powerful resources for established professionals and students who have not yet entered the job market. Many times, there are reduced rates and additional benefits for students who join. Not only can students make connections with professionals across the field, but they can gain greater insight into industry trends, knowledge, and employment resources. Share the professional associations you belong to with students and encourage students to join associations that support their passions and interests.
Engaging in Experiential Learning Opportunities BUILD EXPERIENCE
The best way for students to assess a possible career fit, is to gain hands-on experience. Students can do so by engaging in a variety of different experiential learning opportunities ranging from work experiences, internships, research, study-abroad experiences, and service-learning projects. Frequently students believe taking part in these high impact experiences only benefits students who have determined their career direction. However, exploring an industry hands-on is one of the best ways to discover a suitable and desirable career trajectory.
Planning Courses Wisely BUILD AWARENESS BUILD EXPERIENCE
Encourage students to be prudent when selecting courses, particularly discoveries and electives. Using discoveries and electives to explore topics can be useful to students. In contrast, some students reserve electives until later in their academic career, when they have a clearer vision of their post-graduation direction. Both strategies can work to benefit the student depending on his or her circumstance and both require the student to make thoughtful choices when registering for classes.
Occasionally a student’s internal compass points him or her in multiple different directions and it becomes frustrating for the student to find his or her “true north.” Many of the aforementioned approaches can be used with these students as well, however, there are additional considerations to note.
Career vs. Hobby
A deep self-awareness allows individuals who understand their strengths, skills, and passions to seek meaningful and fulfilling careers. This can become a barrier to some people who have more than one passion they feel compelled to pursue. Helping students understand that simply because they have a strong interest in something, doesn’t mean it has to central to their career. People can pursue their passions through hobbies and volunteer work.
Change is Okay
Some students equate choosing a career path to answering an exam question; they are looking for the right answer. This is particularly true among high achieving students. In reality there very well could be several “right” careers for a single student. The current generation of students will likely have multiple jobs and may even change industries. For students to hear that it is possible to change jobs and shift careers can be extremely reassuring. Additionally, helping students understand that an individual’s journey to their current position is more frequently a windy road rather than that a straight path can also ease a conflicted mind.
Students can pursue paths suggested to them by well-meaning loved ones or peers. This external pressure can create an unnecessary burden on students by causing them to straddle between expectation and passion. Although the student will ultimately need to choose his or her path, advisors can ask thoughtful questions to aid students in determining a future that makes the most sense for him or her.
Providing positive support and encouragement to advisees is certainly an important task of an advisor. However, what do you do when a student has unrealistic or improbable career aspirations?
Stick to the Facts
To emphasize competitiveness, share applicable statistics including admission rates and acceptable minimum G.P.As for graduate and professional schools. Provide insights into past alumni who have successfully obtained employment or graduate admissions into a program.
Suggest a Back-up Plan
Encourage a student to consider an alternative in the event his or her plans do not come to fruition. This could mean working towards increasing competitiveness by gaining additional skills and experiences in the desired field, improving academics, or pursuing a different occupation entirely.
Refer to a Career Professional
Career professionals can assist in providing students with information on targeted careers and specific industries. Career staff in the colleges will work individually with students to develop an appropriate and focused action-oriented plan.
Guiding Students Who Have Changed Paths
Students change their post-graduation plans for a multitude of reasons and react to these changes a variety of different ways. As advisors, it becomes challenging to provide guidance when a student appears to be “stuck.” By understanding each student’s circumstances from a holistic standpoint and signifying support through active listening, advisors can guide students through difficult transitions and obstacles.
Once a student has shared a change in their initial path it is important to determine the catalyst and whether the student had control over the change.
Possible Change Triggers:
Academic: Are grades a determining factor? (i.e., a GPA that is not sufficient for graduate school)
Burnout: Current coursework and/or other responsibilities can be causing stress, causing students to no longer want to continue current path or further education (i.e., a student who planned to pursue graduate school, but no desires to take additional courses at the current time).
Financial: The cost to continue one’s education and/or the potential resulting salary range can both be influential factors (i.e., a student is concerned with the prospect of added student loan debt)
Family/Friend Pressure: Family and peers can pressure students to pursue or not pursue specific careers (i.e., a student has parent who convinces the student to change majors or career paths)
Interest Change or Discovery: As students progress through coursework and participate in experiential learning, their interests may evolve. They may discover new passions or realize they don’t have an interest in certain areas and topics (i.e., a student interns at a company and realizes the nature of the work is not for him/her)
Medical: A personal or family health issue can cause a student to re-evaluate or change direction.
Outlier Experience: A student has an experience that may not be a completely accurate representation of a prospective career.
Individuals react differently to changes and to best guide a student through a transition, it is crucial to understand the impact a change has made on the student’s life.
Self-esteem: For some students, a change in their trajectory is seen as a failure. Facing failures can be difficult for both high achieving students and students who have faced frequent adversities. Doubt in one’s abilities can be self-harming, counter-productive, and often a barrier for moving forward.
Relationships: Some students face opposition from family members and even friends when they decide to change their professional direction. This can put an uncomfortable strain on relationships, especially for students who are receiving financial support from family members.
Academics: In addition to being a possible trigger, changes in academic performance can also result due to a change in a career plan. Students may become disengaged in coursework if they believe it’s pursuit is no longer relevant to their future profession. Additionally, stress, self-esteem, and motivation can also impact a student’s academics.
A student may or may not disclose their personal circumstances in life and there is no expectation for a student to do so. However, students do often share pieces of their personal life with advisors. Keeping an open mind and understanding there may be external factors at work, fosters a welcoming, considerate, and trusting environment. Just because a student does not confide personal circumstances, doesn’t mean there isn’t more below the surface.
Home and Family: Could there be obligations, pressure, stressors, or special circumstances happening in the home of the student?
Health: Could the student, family member, or someone close to the family have a health-related issue?
Finances: Is the student or student’s family struggling to make ends meet? Is the student concerned about their financial future?
Work: Does a student’s employment or need to maintain a steady income hinder their ability to engage in other activities that aid in competitiveness? (i.e., an unpaid internship)
Personal Relationships: Is the student having challenges socially?
One of the most important ways to help a student who is faced with a change is to listen and gain a complete understanding of why they are changing paths. Students often come to their advisors seeking reassurance. Although you may agree or disagree with the student’s decision, you can provide guidance by offering an unbiased viewpoint. The most effective conversations are free of judgement, centered around options for moving forward, and direct individuals to appropriate resources and next steps.
Encourage the student to step back from a focused view and examining multiple possibilities for next steps. If relevant, share your own personal story of when you’ve had to make a tough decision, faced an obstacle, or found your passion.
Talk it Out
Sometimes students fall in love with a new idea, but haven’t thoroughly evaluated that idea. Ask thoughtful questions which force a student to examine the reality of their proposed change. Student may not understand the steps needed to pursue the new profession or a clear understanding of the field and may require assistance in this area.
Refer to a Career Professional
Career and Professional Success staff members are skilled at providing information and resources to effectively guide students in all aspects of their career development, including changes to their original career paths. We will administer and debrief interest assessments, deliver relevant industry and career resource, and discuss alternatives.