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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Career Coaching & Counseling Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with insights from our CTL Associates.

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  • 30 Dec 2015 10:35 AM | Anonymous

    By Nancy Miller, M.S. 
    Creative Lifework Design

    “A healthy lifestyle gives you the energy and robust glow that attracts people to you and makes an employer want to hire you. You command trust and confidence when your posture and expression show your health and happiness.” Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success.

    Leisure, laughter, and play for adults are not often taken seriously, but these attributes are so important for life and career success that companies who want to attract and keep top employees often incorporate play, leisure activities, and socializing into their work cultures. When these fun activities become a part of daily routines, then self-esteem, health, and well-being are increased.

    Career professionals, job seekers, entrepreneurs, and employees work more effectively when they practice healthy habits. What would a healthy lifestyle look like? What would you be doing?

    Leisure, laughter, and play activities would be an important part of your healthy lifestyle for more effectiveness in your business, job search, and work. The key is to embrace those active fun moments throughout the day.

    Leisure is important for career management.

    Leisure is one of the “10 Ways to Model a Healthy Lifestyle for More Effective Career Services”, www.ceuonestop.com. Leisure activities, hobbies, and interests outside of work give you something to talk about for networking, building trust, and developing relationships. Leisure activities have several benefits for career management:

    Shows you are active and interesting.

    • Connects you with others of like interests.
    • Gives you a sense of purpose for living for its own sake (Dattilo, 2002).
    • Leisure empowers you to discover interests and clarify values.

    Leisure is important for career professionals to practice and teach clients and students. People with disabilities and challenges to employment benefit from organized leisure activities as part of their career development.

    The National Career Development Association’s Policy and Procedures Manual includes leisure as one of the important elements for a career guidance program. Leisure activities assist individuals in assimilating and integrating knowledge, experience, and appreciation of the part leisure time may play in a person’s life, as well as developing an understanding of the information and skills necessary to achieve self-fulfillment in work and leisure. NCDA Policy and Procedure Manual 2013-2014 (Revised September 2013 pg. 7-9).

    Leisure activities are part of a healthy lifestyle that can be modeled by career counselors and facilitators as well as being experienced by professionals and job seekers.

    It’s funny that laughter can make you more successful.

    Laughter is a universal language and usually occurs with social interaction. Laughter doesn’t require thinking; it comes naturally at an early age. Networking, interviewing, interacting with customers and colleagues, are all social activities enhanced by the occasional appropriate smiles and, yes, laughter. Although it is not appropriate in all situations, when you get in the habit of smiling and laughing, it will come naturally and enhance your relationships.

    Smiles and laughter connect people in their life, work, and job search. Dr. Phillip Glenn combed through fifteen different job interviews, and analyzed the social dynamics of laughing.  Laughter was shown to be a tool to build rapport, and interviewees who responded with laughter appropriately were more successful (http://www.stanforddaily.com/2010/04/28/strangely-charming-the-science-of-laughter/).

    Laughing is part of a healthy lifestyle. A hardy laugh increases oxygen, helps reduce stress, and done long enough can even be healthy exercise for people of all ages and abilities.

    Laughter really is the best medicine, says Dr. Miller of the University of Maryland Medical Center. Based on a study of heart healthy de-stress activities, he says it is important to exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day (http://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2000/laughter-is-good-for-your-heart-according-to-a-new-ummc-study#ixzz3CxN154f2).

    Play is refreshing.

    Most of the literature and government programs emphasize the importance of play for children. Play is just as important for adults for the same reasons: freedom, fun, fitness, stress relief, relationships, energy, and general well- being.

    When you incorporate play and delight in your life and work you will attract customers, employers, and friends that will help you and your business grow and excel. You can play with your kids, grandkids, pets, friends, and family, and appreciate playfulness in yourself and others. Get in the habit of having fun moments. Stretching, running, jumping, and laughing with kids is the most exhilarating exercise I have found. It hits all of my senses at once (http://njmiller.weebly.com/creative-coaching-blog/staying-fit-for-life-and-career-success-part-one). 

    “By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap the myriad of health benefits throughout life.” The Promise of Play.

    Actively playing relieves stress, improves learning and creativity, increases energy, and enhances productivity.

    “Play can add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect you to others and the world around you. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable” (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/benefits-of-play-for-adults.htm).

    A healthy lifestyle is very important for career professionals, entrepreneurs, and job seekers. Leisure activities, laughing, and playing are all active de-stress exercises that improve attitude, health, and happiness.


    Dattilo, John. Inclusive Leisure Services: Responding to the Rights of People With Disabilities. State College, PA: Venture Publishing, Inc. 2002

    Miller, Nancy J. Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success. Elk Grove, CA: Teal Publishing. 2012

    The Promise of Play: A Report from the 2010 Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-galinsky/the-promise-of-play-a-rep_b_651192.html. Accessed 9/10/14

  • 30 Dec 2015 10:32 AM | Anonymous

    By Susan Whitcomb

    If you are (or have been) the parent of a teenager, you are probably very mindful about your parenting processes. Like all good parents, you want continued growth in your child’s capacity to problem solve and make decisions. It struck me that some of the skills we try to develop in ourselves to be better parents are also skills that can be used with our clients.

    Here’s a three-step process, gleaned from my personal parenting insights, that can be used with clients:

    Involve the client: Avoid the “master-and-commander” approach and adopt the “supporter-and-collaborator” approach. Rather than, “You need to do x, y, z” it might sound like this with your client:

    • “Jane, let’s brainstorm this together.”
    • Or, “John, what are your thoughts about how to develop contacts at your target companies?”
    • Or, “What have you done in the past that’s worked well?”

    This approach engages the client’s thinking to have ownership in the process.

    Develop options: I am personally working on seeing more options than what is in front of my nose, and I want the same for my clients (and my daughter!). Options make us feel like we have choices. Choices make us feel empowered. No options, no empowerment!

    • Ask your client, “What are three different paths to get there?”
    • Or, if mindset is more germane to your conversation, ask, “What are three different perspectives on that situation?”
    • Or, if you’re looking to expand the possibilities, substitute the word “possibilities”: “What are three different possibilities for this?”

    Let the client choose: How many of you have had fantastic success with telling your teenagers (or spouse, family member, or friend) what to do? Probably not much! The same holds true for the people we coach. Though our clients may enjoy asking for our advice, they are rarely as eager to follow it! So remember to leave the final choices up to the client.

    • Ask, “Which of these options would be the best choice?”
    • Or, “Which of these would stretch you in a good way?”
    • Or, “How will you know which is the best choice?”
    • Or, “What option would you be willing to experiment with this coming week?”

    Finally, don’t try to mitigate potential consequences for your clients, or bail them out, or do everything for them. The learning that comes from the doing is just as important as the doing!

  • 30 Dec 2015 10:23 AM | Anonymous

    By Nancy Branton

    Do you know what your strongest intelligences are? How aware are your clients of their intelligences? Howard Gardner expanded the traditional definition of intelligence to include eight different types of cognitive abilities. According to Gardner’s theory, people possess varying amounts of these eight intelligences. These intelligences link to people’s natural abilities and careers that link to them.

    Gardner’s eight intelligences are listed below, along with examples of natural abilities and careers associated with them.

    1. Spatial

    • Natural Abilities: drawing, imaginative, create 3D models
    • Sampling of Careers: pilot, architect, interior designer, engineer

    2. Linguistic

    • Natural Abilities: listening, speaking, verbal persuasion
    • Sampling of Careers: writer, speaker, translator, politician, librarian

    3. Logical/ Mathematical

    • Natural Abilities: mathematical calculations, solving problems
    • Sampling of Careers: mathematician, computer analyst, scientist

    4. Bodily-Kinesthetic

    • Natural Abilities: hand-eye coordination, build things, dance
    • Sampling of Careers: professional athlete, doctor, actor, firefighter

    5. Musical

    • Natural Abilities: singing or playing an instrument, composing music
    • Sampling of Careers: professional musician, disc-jockey, music therapist

    6. Interpersonal

    • Natural Abilities: empathetic, relationship builder, leadership
    • Sampling of Careers: sales, leader, teacher, entrepreneur

    7. Intrapersonal

    • Natural Abilities: aware of inner workings of people, reflective, intuition
    • Sampling of Careers: psychologist, coach, philosopher

    8. Naturalistic

    • Natural Abilities: identify bird calls, gardening, preserving the environment
    • Sampling of Careers: gardener, park naturalist, botanist, geologist

    Taking a self-assessment may be helpful to your clients in becoming clear about their top intelligences. Here is a link to a free multiple intelligence assessment. It assesses one’s top three intelligences and lists ways to use them.

    After your client has taken a multiple intelligence assessment, coach them to become more aware of their top multiple intelligences and the related abilities and careers.

    1. What was it like for you to complete this assessment?
    2. What surprised you most about your results?
    3. What are your strongest intelligences?
    4. How did these intelligences play out in your younger years?
    5. How much are you using your strongest intelligences in your current job?
    6. How do these intelligences link to your current hobbies?
    7. Which of the eight intelligences are most important to your success in your current job? And, which of them match your top ones?
    8. What careers or jobs align most closely with your top intelligences?
    9. What specialties in your career field would best fit your intelligences?
    10. How can you further develop your top intelligences?
    11. What hobbies could you choose to further develop one or more your top intelligences?

    In summary, it’s important for career coaches to be aware of multiple intelligences as part of the career assessment process. The coach may assist the client to be intentional about which abilities to further develop and also to identify jobs and careers in which these abilities may be utilized.

  • 30 Dec 2015 10:18 AM | Anonymous

    By Elisabeth H. Sanders-Park
    WorkNet Solutions

    I specialize in working with difficult clients, and I’ve see my share of people who appear “unmotivated.” Still, I believe everyone is motivated, but I understand that many aren’t interested in what I want them to do. It’s not our job to decide if a client is or isn’t motivated.

    Everyone is motivated… to do something. If we figure out what they want, and attach what we want them to do (attend workshops, meet 1-1, pay for services, get a job) to it, they’ll be motivated. Our job is to meet each client where they are, clarify a vision for their career future and help them move forward. For clients who don’t already see it, we get to help them see the value of work in general, and specifically what’s in it for them to work.

    In my experience, there are two reasons clients appear “unmotivated.” The first is fear. Clients who fear that this process won’t work for them, or that it will(!), often appear unmotivated and sabotage their own progress. The second reason is that clients don’t clearly see how work is of value to them. This may occur when they’re mandated, someone else initiates the partnership (a mother, spouse, employer), they’ve never worked, or they’ve been unemployed for some time and want to maintain their situation (on welfare, disability or unemployment, a stay-at-home parent or spouse).

    Here are three stops and three steps to help you motivate clients who are unmotivated to work because they don’t see the value in it.


    1. STOP talking about work! It doesn’t really surprise clients that you think they should get a job, do work they enjoy, etc. Check your job title, this isn’t news! Clients are pleasantly surprised when we don’t talk about work, but instead begin with what’s important to them and what they want in life. This allows us to discover what’s in it for them to work.

    2. STOP acting as if work is a glorious goal in and of itself! For most of us, work is a means to things that are important to us, a way to get and do things we value, such as making a difference, providing for our families, living out a calling, being creative, independent, influential, etc. This is what we want in life and work helps us do it! So it should be for our clients.

    3. STOP filtering everything through your personal values, and even imposing them on clients! People are unique. Their values and motivations are as different from yours as their facial features and life experience. Your values can hinder the process, diminish the partnership and keep you from seeing what matters to them. Listen, listen, listen without prejudice.


    1. STEP: Identify what motivates the client in life. What are they willing to put energy into getting, or getting away from?… making someone proud, proving someone wrong, owning a home, getting out of a living situation, financial independence, staying out of prison, owning a business, salvaging or severing a relationship, getting away from the kids for a while? These are motivators! Make use of them. Unless it’s illegal, dangerous or outside what your services can support, support everything you can. Too often, we don’t want to support a choice, not because it’s truly damaging, but because it’s not what we want for them. This is a misuse of time, especially when we’re looking to jump-start this process. Only when we recognize what motivates them in life can we create value for work by attaching work to what they care about. We’re re-defining work as “something that gets you what you really want.”

    2. STEP: Now that you know what they value, help them realize “work can help you do that!” Get great at attaching work to almost anything. I’ve worked with clients who were motivated to never to see me again, sleep as much as possible, or watch their favorite Soaps. Well… “work can help you do that!” (watch your attitude here). The skill is to see and communicate how work can get me out of their life (once working they won’t see me much, but until then I’ll be a constant), help them get paid on a job that includes sleeping (overnight manager at a residential facility, mattress tester, etc.), or help them get paid while their Soaps air, afford a DVR and watch them every evening! Once work is attached to something they want, proceed to the final step.

    3. STEP: Launch into the Life/Work Planning (or career planning) process to discover work they should pursue, because 40 hours a week is a long time to endure work you dislike, even if it helps you get things you want. Clarify their most important fascinations, skills and values, then combine and explore them to define their career direction and next job(s) so they can job search. All the while, remain mindful of the “things that make them go in life” and use them as motivators. They’ll remain motivated to do things that are clearly linked to getting things they value. “Work can help you do that!”

    This article appeared originally in the Career Planning & Adult Development Network Newsletter.

  • 30 Dec 2015 10:10 AM | Anonymous

    By Elisabeth H. Sanders-Park, CWDP, JCTC
    WorkNet Solutions

    The sandwich generation; that’s what we’re being called. A generation of Americans who are simultaneously managing their career, raising children, and caring for aging parents. But this is nothing new. In fact, it is the long-standing reality for people across the globe, and until the early 20th century most people in the western world juggled these responsibilities. However, wanderlust, a spirit of individualism, and the ease of relocation has fractured families, at least geographically, if not relationally, adding the difficulty of distance.

    Currently, the recession has most of us working harder than ever to simply maintain our income, or striving to exist on less, even starting over completely. Overlay that with our decreasing tendency to live in multi-generational configurations, participate in communities of faith, and befriend even our nearest neighbors — any of which could offer some support in the midst of this responsibility — and it’s no wonder we’re exhausted. Sure, it’s all very current and exciting to regularly tweet or text your BFFs in Germany and Singapore – except when you need someone to watch your kids for 19 minutes while you run to the market for a pound of ground beef because you forgot to thaw some before rushing out this morning.

    This year alone, I missed being there when my father came-to after surgery that successfully removed lung cancer, because I was 3,000 miles away birthing a bouncing baby boy, and covertly running my company from my hospital bed on a smuggled laptop– btw, NHCRMC in Wilmington has wireless internet access throughout. And, recently, I left my faithful stay-at-home-dad husband and three lovely children for nearly two months to care for my parents who, in separate incidents, ended up in the hospital within four days of each other, so that my two local siblings could focus on their children and careers – btw, OCMMC in Orange County has internet too.

    With many Americans sandwiched between caretaking those who come before and after us, while attempting to earn a living and save for retirement, you must be seeing more clients who are struggling with this.

    One of my big lessons, which can help your clients, is about ‘hope management’. Sometimes in parenting, always in job search and too often in caring for parents, we move quickly between receiving good news and bad news, feeling hope and frustration or sadness.

    Like some of your clients, I am a hopeful person. This gives me a special kind of energy and resolve in difficulty, but it also means I have farther to fall when I finally give in to a sad reality. I am shocked to admit what others have already begun to accept – I didn’t get the job or the contract and no amount of effort can change it, my mother will not get better no matter what, my child truly does have needs and limitations beyond other children.

    I recently heard a report that Norwegians are the happiest people on earth, but it is due in great part to the fact that they expect life to be difficult and full of hard work, so things many might consider basic entitlements or minor news exceed their fairly low expectations. In the same way, you have clients who tend to assume the negative. This means they are rarely disappointed and can, seemingly easier than the rest of us, slog through the numbers game of the job search and the ups and downs of caretaking. But they can also get stuck in minimal activity, sabotage and an ‘I told you so’ attitude, or get down. In either case, ‘hope management’ is helpful.

    The sand beneath our feet, in terms of employment and caretaking, can shift quickly. The highs and lows can occur suddenly and sometimes endure for shockingly short periods of time. It is wise to avoid standing too firmly in one spot or another – getting too excited or too devastated before we know. How we respond is a function of our personality and our experience, so it’s hard to adopt this attitude at the beginning of a job search or the onset of a family incident. It often develops after we become exhausted from the ups and downs, and resolve to stay in the middle.

    In my very recent situation, it only took me a few days to decide that middle ground was the safest emotional place to be. Encourage clients who are being battered by these highs and lows not to count their proverbial chickens before they hatch – feel good about a second interview, but avoid getting too excited or gushing to too many people until the offer is signed, or conversely, not to assume they won’t get the interview or the job because of XYZ, but give their best and hold out hope until the verdict is in. Here are some resources for juggling careers and caregiving… for all of us:

  • 30 Dec 2015 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    By Susan Britton Whitcomb
    The Academies

    I was coaching an entrepreneurial client recently and, as is so often the case, a limiting belief reared its ugly head in the middle of our coaching session. No surprise, as we all have them (limiting beliefs), including moi!

    Specifically, we talked about putting systems in place that would support her annual revenue goals. Listening carefully, I caught a clue to the roadblock when she said, “I’m just no good at organizing.” You’ve probably used a similar phrase, such as:

    • I’m no good at …
    • I’ve never been able to successfully …
    • I am just not talented at …
    • My gift is definitely not …
    • I wish I didn’t have to …

    Whatever the phrase, it probably related to a task that you regularly avoid or procrastinate on, such as:


    • Closing sales
    • Growing my business
    • Bookkeeping
    • Networking
    • Social media
    • Getting/staying organized
    • Staying up on technology
    • Following up with your clients/network
    • Or fill in your own “I’m-no-good-at” task here: ____________

    So what do you do when you hit a “I’m-no-good-at-that” roadblock? Before I offer some insights, first pick something from the above task list that resonates with you so you have something tangible with which to relate these ideas.

    Now, here are three insights and suggestions:

    1. Incapacitate the accusations: Notice your language or self-talk. Don’t condemn or berate yourself. Just curiously notice and name it, whether silently or aloud. E.g., “I’m noticing that I am labeling myself as ‘not good at’ x.”

    2. Remember the W.I.N. (“What’s Important Now/Next?”)Decide how important “x” is to your success. If you chose “closing sales,” and you don’t have a waiting list of clients ready to thrust money into your hands, it’s likely that “closing sales” is pretty important. If it’s “staying up on technology” but that isn’t critical to the success of your business, note that as well. Focus on important items.

    3. Swap it:Substitute your “I’m-no-good-at” phrase for this new phrase:“I don’t know how to [x] … YET!”

    When we shift from “I’m no good at” to “I don’t know how to … YET!” we shift from condemnation to exoneration, and with exoneration to encouragement. As a human being, you are a living, breathing, learning machine. Your brain is capable of wiring more new neuropathways and healthy habits than you could ever dream possible.

    Everything you need for success can either be 1) learned or 2) paid for and performed by someone else. If you’re growing your business, you may choose to “learn” more than you “pay for” initially (focus on doing the things that only you can do and delegate the rest).

    So what is the mind-shift for you? What do you want to learn next?

  • 30 Dec 2015 10:03 AM | Anonymous

    By Catharine Craig, M.Ed., CPRW
    Iowa Career Services

    Every semester I stand up in front of a fresh faced group of new college students and I ask a question.

    “Who are you?”

    As you can imagine, a question like this always elicits a lot of blank stares, a few nervous shifts in the seat, and one or two “spirited” remarks depending on the engagement level of the audience. Regardless of the actual response in words or actions however, the essence of their answer is nearly universal every time.  They have absolutely no idea what this question means, or where to begin when constructing an answer.

    How can we help clients develop a personal brand if they have no way to open the conversation about who they are and what makes them unique? I’ve tried a variety of strategies to address this challenge. We’ve talked about values and principles. We’ve done activities designed to get them talking about their strengths, talents, goals, and vision. We’ve spent time looking at the journey of others and how others have defined passion. We have done all the old fashioned career and personality styles assessments. We have journaled, watched inspirational movies, read great self-help books and articles, done informational interviews, and talked at length about a personal definition of success.

    Although all of these aforementioned strategies are helpful in their own way, they are very much based on a model that requires the client to be able to use words to explain their intuitive hits. Many students struggle with this and I’m sure there are a variety of reasons why.

    What if we could remove this barrier to clients by providing a tool they could use that didn’t require the use of the written or spoken word? Of course we need to help clients use words to interpret their uniqueness after the fact, but we could all benefit from having another trick to help a struggling client access those very raw feelings and thoughts in a way that didn’t frighten or intimidate.

    Many months ago while on Pinterest I found a picture of Fred Rogers and wanted to pin it. The photo struck a chord with me and something resonated in the pit of my stomach. It was the sort of photo that gave me goose bumps, got me misty eyed, and made me excited at the same time. I believe that the physiological response I had to this photo was a tremendous indicator that I had found something that spoke to me about the nature of my soul, and about what I value. I created a new board just to collect pictures like this and named it, “What I Aspire to be”.

    Clients that are uncomfortable with communicating with words can be coached to create a board that represents a visual display of their strengths, values and aspirations using Pinterest. This is a perfect assignment for the client who is feeling unremarkable, lost, or for whatever reason just doesn’t respond to all of our open ended questions well. It is an activity that they can engage in privately without the need to depend on anything other than intuition, emotional response, and the goosebumps factor.

    After a client has begun to assemble a “What I Aspire to Be” board then we, as strategists and word smiths, can partner with them in interpretation. We can act as collaborators after they have defined visually what is important to them.

    To see my board as an example please visit:


    Happy Pinning!

  • 30 Dec 2015 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Susan Whitcomb

    At a recent presentation on coaching, I spoke about a number of new coaching concepts. Perhaps my favorite was the “Everything You Need” technique.

    I told the story of how moved I was when learning about Randy Pausch, the Carnegie-Mellon professor who wrote The Last Lecture as part of his battle with pancreatic cancer. ABC’s Diane Sawyer did a special on Randy and his wife, Jai. I’ll never forget part of that conversation when Diane asked Jai, “How do you deal with this, knowing that he’ll soon be gone?” His wife responded, “by remembering that I have everything I need.”

    That was a salient moment for me as a coach. I began thinking of powerful questions associated with that thought:

    • What shifts for you when you think, “I have everything I need?”
    • What does “I have everything I need” mean?
    • What’s the truth in that statement?
    • What do I have that I didn’t realize I already had?

    As I pondered this, I added two words to the “I have everything I need” phrase: “Right Now.” Those two words cause us to look for, embrace, and utilize the resources that are already there for us. Those resources can come in varying forms:

    • Material provision
    • People provision
    • Peace
    • Patience
    • Wisdom
    • Perspective
    • Ideas
    • Courage
    • And much more!

    I’m on a mission to implement this concept – I Have Everything I Need—Right Now! – into my life on every level. Will you join me? What will be different when you do?

  • 15 May 2013 4:15 PM | Anonymous
    By Joan Runnheim Olson

    In a recent blog post, Marquita M. Qualls shared with readers the importance of STEM and her opinion on why there are so few women in science, technology, engineering, and math. In this blog post she continues the conversation, expressing her thoughts on the role she sees of educators and counselors on a student's career decision-making and more. 

    What role do you believe educators and counselors play in a student's career decision-making?

    Educators and counselors play a huge role in a student's career decision. I believe that they are responsible for exposing the students to a wide range of career options, and providing opportunity for the students to get first hand interaction with people in their field of interest. They should seek out resources to share with students and their parents so that they have the information to make the best informed decision about preparing for their future career. Even if funding is limited, there are several avenues that can be explored.   Most, if not all, professional organizations have outreach activities that are geared towards these very efforts.   In additions, members are always willing to volunteer time to share their experiences and answer questions about their chosen career path. All that's required is that the counselor or educator reach out and ASK.

    How can educators encourage female students to raise awareness and consider a career in STEM?

    Exposure is critical. Female students need to become exposed to and can interact with female STEM practitioners. A live example is probably the most powerful ways to encourage young women. I have several female friends and colleagues who often speak to young girls about STEM. It's always exciting to hear a young girls share that she now knows that she too can be a scientist because of the interaction with these female STEM practitioners.

    What other resources are available to educators to help promote STEM?

    Professional organizations are a great resource for learning about a chosen career field. Within the STEM discipline, there are several organizations that provide tons of information on their websites. A few include:

    In addition several government agencies have resources available to educate the public and support the advancement of STEM careers:

  • 10 Jan 2013 6:47 PM | Anonymous

    By Joan Runnheim Olson

    Yesterday I received a call from a community college out east. They may want to hire me to provide a motivational presentation to their undecided female students sharing the benefits of nontraditional careers, i.e., male-dominated. What a great idea! Many female students enter college undecided about what major to pursue, and ultimately, what career path to choose. These students range from 18-year-olds to those in their 40's and 50's that have been downsized due to the recession. What can be done to help these students in their career-decision making process? And, how can counselors and educators raise student's awareness of their career options, not just those based on gender? 

    Gender Stereotypes Limit Career Options

    Oftentimes female students focus only on those career paths that are traditional for their gender. A male-dominated career doesn't even hit their radar screen. As I have shared in the past, this is typically a result of socialization and gender stereotypes.  At home, girls grow up expected to carry out chores that are typical for their gender, e.g., washing the dishes and cleaning house. They often don't learn how to build or repair things. This spills over into school where females are often encouraged to enroll in classes and programs that are traditional for their gender.

    So, What's the Big Deal?

    Some women may find a nontraditional career more satisfying than a traditional one. Besides career satisfaction, many nontraditional careers for women pay 20-30% higher wages than the traditional "pink collar" jobs they pursue. And some offer career ladders, e.g., apprenticeship programs where you earn while you learn. As your skills increase, your pay increases.

    Steps for a Turnaround

    One step to help turn this around is to encourage counselors and advisors to make female students aware of both traditional and nontraditional career options. And, when educators notice a female student is good in math, science, or technology, encourage them to talk to the student about the different career opportunities that are available for someone with those skills.

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