College and career readiness services - Steps to the Future

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Local Career Gem

Recently, I have had several conversations with parents who expressed concern about the possible career paths of their middle and high school students.  Some parents lament that their students are too young to make career choices; others feel that some students' choices are unrealistic.  One way to help young people with career awareness, exploration, and development is to encourage them to learn about themselves. Having the opportunity to reflect on your likes and dislikes, discuss values that are important to you, and discover how your personality may align with certain work environments is important.

The College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) has several career assessments free to students in North Carolina.  All you need to do is register for an account at, go to PLAN on the menu tab and click on "For A Career". There are nine assessments available to high school students, of which I will summarize four of the assessments.

The Interest Profiler, based on the work of John Holland and his Theory of Career Choice, asks a series of questions about some common work tasks. Based on students' responses, results show how students match up with six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Taking about 10 -20 minutes, the Interest Profiler can be a valuable tool to start a conversation about future career goals.

The Career Cluster Survey is one of my favorite assessments for students beginning the career exploration process. There are 16 Career Clusters with multiple career pathways within each.  Again, this is another excellent starting point for a discussion about career possibilities because it may expose students to career pathways they did not know about until they started exploring. This survey takes about 15 - 25 minutes and it provides hours of possibilities to explore.


Another assessment that assists students with self-awareness is Do What You Are (DWYA), a personality type assessment based on the work of Dr. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist.  Results from Do What You Are helps students become more aware of their strengths and blind spots, encourages them to consider their learning style, and suggests career paths for different personality types.  DWYA examines students' results along four dimensions: Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving. It takes about 20 -25 minutes to complete.

The fourth assessment is the Work Values Sorter (WVS), which takes approximately 5 - 15 minutes.  This assessment increases students' awareness of what is important in a job setting to them. Starting with an exercise sorting 20 values into categories titled Most Important, More Important, Somewhat Important, Less Important, and Least Important, students use their results to explore career matches. WVS assesses six values: Achievement, Independence, Recognition, Relationships, Support, and Working Conditions.

After students take these assessments, I recommend that they review their outcomes with a trusted professional to help them interpret their results.  It is important to remember there is no right or wrong answer to these assessments; this is only one piece to students' career puzzle.




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