Monthly Archives: July 2010

Insights for Parents: The Pressure of Choosing a Career


As a parent of a college student and a teenager in high school, one of my biggest questions in my mind is “Am I helping my children with the right information and career guidance?”  Am I helping them understand their unique talents, skills, behaviors and motivators and translate these into identifying a career path that is motivating and fulfilling for them?  

I’ve worked with many teenagers, high school and college students for several years and have gained a few insights. As a full time management consultant, executive coach and executive & student career coach and as a parent, I’m sharing “insights” that I hope are useful to parents. The focus of these insights is specific to parents of teenagers (or college students) who are struggling with helping their son or daughter with career guidance.  So instead of this being advice, please consider these, at best, my insights. 

Here are a few points to consider to reduce the pressure of Career Guidance: 

  1. Be a good listener. Listening with open ears and an open mind is one of the most powerful ways you can help your son or daughter. Listening means “not talking, telling or judging”. Listening means asking open ended questions to learn what is in the mind of your son or daughter?
  2. Observe and create an awareness of their talents and skills. Become very observant of your teenagers skills and talents in their day to day activities at home, schools and in social gatherings. Open ended discussion around these observations creates a heightened awareness among the teenager. This new awareness also motivates them to explore and learn more about these talents and skills on their own.
  3. Be understanding. Choosing a career is a process of exploration and takes time and effort. When helping your son or daughter explore their own talents and the potential careers that will be a good fit, don’t push for an immediate decision, it has to evolve over time in the mind of your child. Choosing a career is not a healthy objective in the short term. A better “parental objective” is to support your son or daughter in exploring their interests, attitudes, motivators (self awareness) and the careers, industries, companies and people that might help them “find” their place in the world. Developing a strategy that ensures they are positioned to pursue the best career for them is an admiral goal and a less frustrating proposition for you and your child.
  4. Approach career exploration as a fun journey. The journey is as certain as life itself. To make career exploration fun means eliminating all of the things that makes it not fun. We parents are very good at telling. Please don’t tell when it comes to career exploration. Parents are very good at sharing their opinions. Please avoid sharing your opinion until your teenager asks for it. Offer support in whatever way your son or daughter wants that support. Remind yourself often how intimidating an exercise this is for son or daughter. Remind them that you were totally blind about careers, that you had no idea how to go about exploring and choosing a career when you were their age and that you were intimidated by the thought of “choosing a career”. Help them create an environment that puts them in control. Within that general guideline, do not allow your son or daughter to put it off (a natural occurrence when we feel intimidation, fear, and incompetent). With little effort, they can learn a lot during the high school years that will put them way ahead of most college students.

You’ll end up turning your frustration into fun and excitement when you watch your son or daughter talk, act and succeed with passion because they own their career choices. This way they not only find their career choices, but are very excited about it and motivated to go the extra mile to succeed. 


Carl Nielson is the developer of Career Coaching for Students™, the premier career exploration program for high school and college students. Nielson is the founder of Success Discoveries (www.successdiscoveries.com) and The Nielson Group (www.nielsongroup.com), an international corporate organizational management consulting firm. Prior to consulting, he served over 20 years in corporate human resources management. He holds a degree in organizational psychology from Texas A&M University. Find Carl on LinkedIn.   Carl speaks to groups on request and offers parent webinars and seminars for communities. 

If you are looking for true career guidance for a student, check out http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net. Are you past the high school and college years? Check out resources and services at Success Discoveries. Professional career coaching services offered.    

Copyright © 2010 Success Discoveries, LLC
Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC

Is it time to revamp career guidance in schools?


As a corporate management and organizational development consultant with over 25 years of hiring, firing, training, coaching and development, I find a mixed population when it comes to people with clear, passionate career direction and those without that clarity and passion. My observations and various academic, corporate and government surveys suggest more people fall into the latter category. Yet those in positions of authority within the secondary and higher education career guidance field seem satisfied with the status quo.Is it time to revamp career guidance in schools?

What has changed over the past 30+ years in career counseling in most schools can be summed up in three letters: WWW. Schools are now offering students an online portal to career information. Most of these programs offer personality assessments that point the student to Holland codes.  So if that is an appropriate assessment for students, how many employers use Holland code type assessments to match people to jobs? My informal scan came up with zero. 

Why revamp career guidance in schools?
I’ve listed some reasons (goals and rewards) that support an effort to revamp career guidance in schools.

  • Higher student self-esteem
  • Higher academic achievement across all student populations
  • Better choices for higher education
  • Shorter time in higher-ed (a change in majors delays a student by at least one semester)
  • Lower student loan debt
  • Higher quality workforce
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Improved society
  • Higher personal income
  • Higher quality of life
  • and greater employability in a passionate career

Career Guidance redefined.

Career guidance starts with bringing self-awareness to the student. This is minimized by schools, or, if attempted, counselors use personality assessments with relatively low validity and reliability. The typical public school administrator thinks they do not have the budget to consider highly reliable, valid assessments and properly conduct counseling or coaching with each student. As one administrator explained, “we need to leave something for the parents to do”. Colleges and universities are found to have very few resources as well. Many continue to use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator as the tool of choice for expanding students’ self-awareness.   

With solid self-awareness, a valid connection needs to be made to career possibilities. Most students get off the train at this point. They didn’t find the “personality assessments” valid (face validity is critical) and found the career suggestions from the assessment report made no sense. The reality is that making the talent-to-career connection requires the help of a professional career coach or a well-developed career coaching program that guides the student through the process.

From initial investigative research to in-depth career analysis, the ability to research careers has been improved drastically thanks to the Internet. However, left on their own, students find the Internet is a rather large, disorganized information bank that has the potential to get the researcher distracted or totally lost and confused. Students don’t need a Google list of Internet resources or school marketing website disguised as a career guidance site. Internet resources need to be found, evaluated, vetted and categorized in a way that allows the student to stay focused with their research and avoid chasing links to questionable or low-value content.

Career research can’t be defined by Internet resources. At some point, the student must meet people in careers of interest, interview these people, go on job shadowing ventures and get internships working for companies that employ people in his career of interest.  There are several other strategies students can take to learn and identify career choices. Most students don’t complete any of these steps. A very few might do some of this.

Researching ideal careers is half the battle. Today’s students lack skills such as decision-making. Life skills that are learned early support students as they go to college or enter the work world. Life skills are just that, skills learned by experiencing life. However, our culture has changed significantly in the past 30 years. Students do not live in an environment that enables them to develop these life skills the way kids did 50 or 100 years ago. Yet school administrators and parents seem unaware of programs they can use to introduce students to key skills required for success. What are the key skills found in highly successful people? Here is a short list of 18 skills. Which of these aren’t needed to be highly successful? 

  1. Continuous Learning (try this one!)
  2. Personal Accountability
  3. Self Management
  4. Decision Making (Conceptual Thinking, Theoretical Problem Solving, Role Confidence, Balanced Decision Making)
  5. Goal Orientation
  6. Proactive Thinking
  7. Initiative
  8. Project and Goal Focus
  9. Planning and Organizing
  10. Flexibility
  11. Problem Solving
  12. Persistence 
  13. Creativity Innovation
  14. Futuristic Thinking
  15. Influencing Others (Conveying Role Value, Gaining Commitment, Understanding Motivational Needs)
  16. Interpersonal Skills (Evaluating Others, Personal Relationships, Persuading Others)
  17. Written Communication
  18. Personal Drive

What are the chances the typical high school student is being developed in these skill areas? I think it is time to revamp career guidance in schools? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box.

Carl Nielson is the developer of Career Coaching for Students™, the premier career exploration program for high school and college students. Nielson is the founder of Success Discoveries (www.successdiscoveries.com) and The Nielson Group (www.nielsongroup.com), an international corporate organizational management consulting firm. Prior to consulting, he served over 20 years in corporate human resources management. He holds a degree in organizational psychology from Texas A&M University. Find Carl on LinkedIn.   Carl speaks to groups on request and offers parent webinars and seminars for communities.

If you are looking for true career guidance for a student, check out http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net. Are you past the high school and college years? Check out resources and services at Success Discoveries. Professional career coaching services offered.   

Copyright © 2010 Success Discoveries, LLC
Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC

Career Talk for Students with Dr. Bruce McLaughlin webinar series starts July 7, 2010: New, Emerging and High Demand Jobs for Students


I am very honored to be Bruce’s first “guest” for Career Talk, a free program for students and parents available by registering at http://tinyurl.com/yk7nfw9.

My topic is New and Emerging Careers for Students. Please forward the info to any parent or student interested in the future (that should cover just about everyone).

Career Talk is a series of free conference calls hosted by Dr. Bruce McLaughlin. Topics cover a wide range of issues important to students and parents of students in high school and college.

Career Talk Series One (July through September 2010)

Format: Interactive conference call (phone) with online screen sharing.
Call in instructions:
1. Call the conference line (one-time register at http://tinyurl.com/yk7nfw9) to connect to the call using your unique PIN
2. At beginning of call go to http;//www.successdiscoveries.glance.net. A session key will be provided at the beginning of the call. Follow the online instructions to connect to the presentation screen.

Interactive Q and A with guest experts will be included on each call.

Wednesday 7/7/10 (7:00 P.M. central) – New and Emerging Careers with Carl Nielson
What careers are going to be in demand in the future? How can you prepare yourself to move into the new job market? This session will address careers and their requirements that are relatively new (non-traditional) or anticipated to be developing over the next ten years. We will discuss the differences between ‘New Occupations’, ‘Emerging Occupations’, and ‘Evolving Occupations’. Carl Nielson is founder of Success Discoveries and the Developer of the Career Coaching for Students program.

Wednesday 7/29/10 (7:00 P.M. central) – College Costs & Funding Strategies Part One
Your family’s security depends upon careful planning for college expenses. A typical education can cost over $100,000 and leave the young student in debt for years. Prepare in advance for one of the most important events of your life. Dr. McLaughlin will be joined by Susan Young, CPA to cover this important topic.

Monday 8/30/10 (6:00 P.M. central) – Know the Score on Standardized Testing
Learn about the role standardized testing plays in the college process and gain simple tips to assist you in preparing for the SAT/ACT.

Monday 9/27/10 (8:00 P.M. central) – College Costs & Funding Strategies Part Two
Your family’s security depends upon careful planning for college expenses. A typical education can cost over $100,000 and leave the young student in debt for years. Prepare in advance for one of the most important events of your life. Dr. McLaughlin will be joined by Susan Young, CPA to discuss and share valuable information.

At the end of each call, Bruce will answer questions and explain some of the specifics about the upcoming St. Louis-area career workshops specifically tailored for students in high school or college.

Bonus: As a Registered Call Participant, we’re providing you access to the Life Skills for Students Continuous Learning module (one of the 16 Life Skills for Students modules included in the workshop).

Bonus #2 for Students: Complimentary “Parent User Manual” assessment. Students are being “assessed” and “tested” constantly. Let’s turn the tables and have the parent take an assessment. Participating parents on the call will be invited to take a complimentary behavioral style assessment. The report will be enlightening for the parent and the entire family. Instructions will be e-mailed after the call.

To learn more about upcoming workshops http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net/career-coaching-for-students-events/30-st-louis-student-career-workshop.html

Career Coaching for Students workshop is highly recommended for high school students:

Incoming Freshmen
Sophomores
Juniors*
Seniors*

*This workshop is critical for Juniors and Seniors if they are making college and major choices without a clear career plan., Talent Development: Hire,Train & Retain the Best. Executive Coaching, Team Development, Student Career CoachingTriMetrix, CPVA, CPBABy Carl Nielson,