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How to Choose a Degree | Fox Valley Technical College

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– Welcome, my name is Kathy DesRochers and I am a counselor here at the college. I’ve been with the college
for about 25 years, so I have quite a bit
of experience working with prospective students
as well as current students navigating, choosing a career
and a program at the college. What I would like to know
is, just to get started, is how many of you in the room have an idea but you’re not sure? So you have some ideas
that you’re exploring, but you’re not a hundred percent sure? Can I have a hand? Okay. How many of you who are sitting
out there right now saying, I really have absolutely no idea. Okay. So, regardless, if you have some idea, and you just kinda need
some help navigating those things or you
have absolutely no idea, this process can benefit
you in helping you, hopefully, make some decisions. This process that we use
at Fox Valley Technical College works with, we use
it with high school seniors, juniors, as well as people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, returning adults. The difference is we have more information about ourselves the older we get and the more life experiences we have, so for those of you that are younger and navigating the career
world for the first time, it does create some stress. Sometimes you feel like
you’re overwhelmed. So I want you to sort of forgive
yourself for not knowing, and just know that it’s a process, it’s not a automatically,
we’re gonna figure this out. I’m gonna start by showing you some common myths about choosing a career. And the first one is
choosing a career is simple. I think we just need to put that out there because it can be a difficult process because there’s a lot of stuff out there. There’s a lot of information, particularly for the young
people in the audience. There’s a lot of
information you don’t know about the world of work to
be making this decision. So we know that the more
information that you can generate about yourself and the
more knowledge you have about the world of work
the better and easier the decision is gonna be for you. So that’s really what our process is about when helping people navigate this. Second myth, a career counselor. I think I’d like to add to that. A career counselor or a career test can tell you what to do. Oftentimes, people are
hoping to defer this decision to someone else or something else like, can I just take a test that
will tell me what to do? My guess is may of you
sitting out there have already either done
something in high school or you’ve tried some stuff online. Possibly you even did our
quick little assessment in the applications room
before you came here. It gives you some information, but it doesn’t collect enough information about you to give you the answer. Typically, those are interest surveys, so they survey your interests. We’re gonna talk about there’s really more to the puzzle than just your interests. You don’t need to defer that decision. We hope to empower you by giving you some information and helping you navigate this so you can make the decision yourself. Number three, I can’t make
a living from a hobby. Maybe, maybe not. But why we have that
up there is oftentimes, that’s how we begin to
collect some information about what maybe your interests are, particularly if you don’t
have a lot of work experience. What are the things that you enjoy doing? What kind of environments
are you happiest in? What types of things come easy for you in terms of skill set? So oftentimes, we’ll use
hobbies to begin kind of collecting some information
about who you are as a person and the things you
tend to gravitate towards. Number four, I should choose a career from the best careers list. Oftentimes, those are
usually the hot jobs, the jobs that are in highest demand. And certainly, everybody,
particularly when they’re thinking about
investing money and going to school they wanna make
sure that when I get out of this training I want
to have a job at the end. Certainly, we want to
look at job availability and that research that’s
out there as well as, there’s also lists out there of the top 10 highest paying jobs for
new college graduates. So a lot of times students will navigate towards that and go, oh, you know, maybe I wanna pick one
of these top 10 jobs. That information isn’t bad and learning information about wages and job outlook, but know that just because
a job is in high demand and it pays a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s gonna be a right fit for you. So there’s really more work that needs to be done in addition to that. I’m not gonna discourage you
from looking at those lists. The Department of Labor
puts them out yearly. There’s usually not a
whole lot of change in ’em, but know that that’s not the best way to select a job because it
may not fit who you are. You may not have a job
on that top 10 list. And then, making a lot of
money will make me happy. We all recognize that money is the main reason why many of us work. But what that amount is, well, my first question to all of
you is what’s a lot of money? Okay, you don’t have to answer that, but my thought is, if I surveyed you, all of you would probably have a different indicator of what a lot
is or what enough is. We have a conversation about like what kind of lifestyle are you targeting? What kinds of, besides your basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, what are the other things that
you want out of your life? Where do you want to live? In a rural area or an urban area? So we have those real
life discussions about what is that gonna look like to determine what type of wage it is
you’re trying to target. And then we look at
what the starting salary versus opportunities for
advancements in occupations. We look at ladders of advancement, meaning if I were to acquire additional education after I get this initial degree, what are the opportunities? So we look at it more of as a process instead of just like an end, like, okay, this is what this is gonna pay. And if you look at our
graduate placement statistics, if any of you have gone on our website and seen that information, and there’s probably some information at some of these tables,
many of our programs, the graduate placement statistics, there’s a huge range from starting salaries of new graduates. And there can be a lot of
factors that play into that. Some, it has to do with geography. We have some students that move out of the area to maybe more urban communities, which will allow for them
to maybe have a higher wage. We have some students that
come to us as older adults that have some solid work
experience in a field, but now they’re adding on the degree. So in addition to that
experience and that degree, that could aid to a higher income. Versus somebody coming out
right out of high school and, you know, with minimal work experience, getting that degree and
getting an entry level job. We have a lot of conversations
about what that looks like because we know that’s
important to people. How much money I’m gonna make. What my job, what the
job opportunities are. What that outlook is. But we wanna have that
conversation with you in terms of what it is that you’re looking
for and how can we best help you navigate the
career choices for that. Once I choose a career I’ll
be stuck in it forever. The latest statistics,
I looked them up today, the average high school
graduate today will have an average of five to seven
careers after high school. And 10 to 15 jobs. Changing of careers is
going to be probably more common than it was of
your parent’s generation or your grandparent’s generation. So being aware of that. Knowing that our job is
not necessarily to help you look at what are you gonna be
doing for the next 50 years. It’s more of looking at,
particularly with the technical college education when there’s
a less time investment, what is it that’s gonna
be your springboard for potential careers
throughout your career life. We really want to kind of get
you in sort of the right zone. Then help you navigate throughout that. Career planning is a lifelong process. It’s not necessarily a one and done. There’s some exceptions to that. Obviously, people that
pursue a significant level of education to pursue a career
typically stay in that career. If somebody’s gonna decide they wanna be an orthopedic surgeon, they’re not gonna invest
in 12 years of school and student loans and then decide after 10 years they’re gonna switch careers. They might. But usually with the more investment the less career change
that you’re gonna see. If I change careers my
skills will go to waste. We talk a lot about transferrable skills and what types of skills can benefit you in one occupation that could transfer into other levels and other actual careers. If my best friend is happy
in a particular field, I will be, too. I guess what I address there is oftentimes when we’re struggling with a decision we seek out other people’s advice. We ask our friends or we see
what our friends are doing. Or we ask our parents or our teachers. And if you ask enough people, somebody’s eventually gonna tell you, well, I think you should do this. And if we’re really unsure
that we’re, or we’re worried, that we’re gonna make the wrong choice, we might just defer our
decision making to someone else, and that’s not necessarily
the best process to go. Sometimes our, I’m a parent, so I’ll say I feel like I
know my kids pretty well, and I try to help them navigate that, plus, I have over 25 years
as a career counselor, so I think they should just
let me tell them what to do, but that hasn’t worked
out for me, just sayin’. We can help people around
us whether it be our spouse or our children or our best friends in giving information,
but we shouldn’t defer, we shouldn’t defer
decision making to them. And then, hopefully,
based on what I’ve already been saying you can understand that things don’t just necessarily fall into place. I’ll say it again, career planning should
be a lifelong process. What’s gonna make you happy at 25 isn’t necessarily gonna
make you happy at 50. And it might be maybe you might decide you want more challenge,
more responsibility. Right now you might not
feel real confident, so you might not wanna
choose something that has a lot of responsibility or leadership. But as you navigate through
life you might find, wow, I can really become
an expert at this, and I think I could manage
people or lead people. We’ll see on the next
slide when I talk about a lot of making good
career decisions is about just being aware of who
we are in that moment, and then, knowing when to navigate. Knowing when to switch jobs or apply for a different job or get additional training. So it really is a lifelong process. And really what we’re, for
those of you that might not be career changers but
coming right out of high school, just sort of look at
this as this is my first, this is my first decision
and I’ll probably be making multiple decisions as the future progresses in terms of a career. And then, finally, there’s
very little I can do to learn about an occupation by doing it. Particularly with our hands-on learners, so if you’re sitting out there and you’re a real hands-on learner, sometimes it’s real
difficult when somebody shoves information at you and says, well, just read about these jobs. ‘Cause you’re lookin’
at it and you’re goin’, I don’t know what they do. So I really encourage, we, as a staff, really encourage students
to meet with our faculty, which is why open house is great, ’cause all of our faculty are present. Have conversations about it. Do the tours of the work areas. As well as get out into the work environment and ask to do job shadows. We talk about how you can do that as part of our career planning classes. What are the things that
you’re most interested in? Would it benefit you to be able to get out there and either, I mean, there’s certain things
that you can job shadow that you can see when
people are doing things. Somebody that’s an accountant, there’s really not much to
job shadow, but certainly, with that, an informational
interview and sitting down with somebody at,
not only a small business, but maybe at an accounting office. I mean, there’s… When we look at one
career there’s multiple work environments that that
person could fit in with. We do a lot of encouragement in helping students see those different occupations. This is really how we want you to think of making a career decision. So the first is that self-assessment. We call it a self-assessment. We do give you some
paper pencil inventories, but like I said earlier, the
test can’t give you the answer. And I say, if there was a test
that told everybody what to do we would all take that,
we would do what it said, and we would live happily ever after. And I would be unemployed
because there would be no purpose to somebody
to sit down with you to help you, you know, navigate. My job as a career
counselor and parents and significant others that are
helping somebody navigate it, you can be a listening board to help them navigate in getting those
puzzle pieces together. But the individual
that’s trying to make the decision really is the one that needs to create the puzzle pieces
in terms of, like, what are the things
that I’m interested in. And there might be multiple
things on that puzzle piece. What are the skills that I believe come easy to me or that I do well or the skills that I wanna learn to do better? And then, what are my values? What’s important to me and how does that relate to the world of work? And then, just in terms of
what has your life experience brought you and taught you about yourself? We also talk about personality traits. There are some people
that are real flexible, and there’s some people
that are real scheduled. And that characteristic can make a huge difference in different work environments. There oftentimes is a balance
where sometimes you have to be scheduled and sometimes
you have to be flexible. But there are some,
depending on the occupation, that might fall further down the line on one continuum than the other. So we talk a lot about like who you are. So that’s where you get
that self-awareness. And I don’t think anybody
would disagree with me that people that are not in high
school that you would say that at your age now
you know more than you knew when you were 17 or
18 about yourself, right? You know more about
your likes and dislikes, what things you did well, what
things are important to you. So that’s also why we
say career planning is sort of a journey and it’s a process. So we want to take the
individual where they’re at in this point and
time with the information that they have to make this decision. Second phase is then that research. So we hope in that first phase that we’re able to sort of put a puzzle together so we sort of have a picture of like what things are important to you and what your personality traits stand out and those types of things. And what’s important to you
in terms of your values. And then, we help you
navigate some job shadows or career exploration so you can have a couple to compare and contrast. It’s always helpful to just say, okay, I think this is what I wanna do, but I’d like to compare and contrast it to some other things. Because sometimes if we can eliminate by looking at one thing and we see some other things and we eliminate that, that one tends to be a
little bit stronger for us. And then, decision making has a whole lot of components to it. We look at your circumstances. Are you somebody that works full-time that needs to go to school part-time? Are you somebody that can go to school full-time without working? Are you self-supporting or are you living at home with parents? That all kind of leads into that financial discussion about how much
time do I have to do this? How can I make this as
affordable as possible? So that all plays into trying to make the best scenario available to you to achieve the goal of getting some higher education to achieve a career
that you’re looking for. Know that that career
counseling process is not just about sitting down and taking a test and goin’, okay, here’s
what you should do. And it’s not just about saying, you know, here’s some websites, here’s some suggestions for job shadows. But it really is about looking at the whole person and your whole situation. Oftentimes, the conversation
is people know what they want to do but they’re
fearful that they might fail, so they resort to saying, I
don’t know what I wanna do, because as soon as we
say what we wanna do, we have to embrace it
and we have to do it. So fear sometimes holds us back
from making a decision, too. Any questions or comments about this? Okay. Why am I… So this is a visual of pretty much that outline, for the most part. We look at, so if you’re
sitting there as someone here today trying to figure
out what do I wanna do, we start with filling in
that circle of interest. What are the things that you like to do? Sometimes I start with, people, they look at me and
they say, I don’t know. I say, well, tell me what
you don’t like to do, because we can eliminate,
through processes of elimination we can come
up with some things. That might be helpful, too, as
you look at our program guide is go through it and
start with the programs that you know you have
zero interest in doing, and then look at what’s left. That might be what your starting place is to start doing some career exploration. I mean, just based on your intuition and your awareness of yourself you might just be able to eliminate
all but three areas and then we start with that. Skills, think about what
things come easy to you, what things you struggle with. Oftentimes, people have said, I don’t have any skills,
that’s why I’m here. But we all come with a set of aptitudes and there are certain things
that come easy for us, certain things that
are more of a struggle. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean you can’t overcome that. But we talk about that and
we have that conversation. And then, I think, one of
the biggest conversations I have with people is
what’s important to you. We spend a lot of our time working, so what do you wanna get
from that besides a paycheck? That’s the conversation that I really try to lead people down to try to surface what does that look like. For some it’s the hours that they work. For others it’s a sense of achievement. For some it might be the
ability to work alone and not have to deal with people. You know? Might be leadership or
a lot of responsibility. Some it may be minimal responsibility. We talk a lot about that. And then, the life circumstances
is just, once again, just sort of getting a temperature on what your story is at this
point in time and how we can best help you navigate a decision that’s gonna work best for your situation. And that’s when we kind
of start talking about educational opportunities and
how that’s gonna fit for you. How many of you happened to start in E130? Did any of you start in E130 and take one of the, where
it says apply for… None of you? Well, part of it is is
when you fill out the application you have to pick a program, but if you go in there undecided they’ll walk you through to the other side of E130 and they are doing a mini assessment. I’ve already told you my
thoughts on an assessment, but the mini assessment can sort of introduce you to how we help
you in career counseling sort of categorize your interests. So we use this theory, and I’m just gonna walk you
through the six categories. Realistic is more hands on learning. So people that say, I
wanna do a job where I’m doing something in terms
of physical performance. I don’t wanna sit. I don’t, I wanna use my hands more than I wanna use my mind for the most part. I wanna solve things by doing. Investigative typically taps into those people that like to analytical, or problem solve and
analytically problem solve. Math, science tends to be their go-tos. Doesn’t necessarily mean
always, but typically. Artistic doesn’t mean
that you’re a good drawer, it means, it could mean that, it could be like music,
art, writing, drawing. But people that identify with artistic often are very creative. So if you identify as
someone that’s creative, it can be creative problem
solver, creator idea person, you might gravitate towards occupations that allow for you to express that. Social doesn’t necessarily mean that, you know, you’re a social butterfly, ’cause sometimes I get students that will gravitate and score high in that category, but it really means you’re typically have a supportive personality. Meaning you’re somebody
that likes to help others and care for others or
reach out to others. So we look at occupations that fit there. Enterprising is more,
if the words leading, persuading, directing, managing, if those words kind of pop out at you as, yeah, that’s kind of, I’m lookin’ for an occupation
that allows me to do that, we talk about what those would be. And then, conventional are people that like a lot of routine and structure. Usually like conventional and artistic are oftentimes opposite, so if you’re somebody that’s
more flexible and open and kinda go with the flow,
you’re probably a little, maybe have more traits there. Conventional you’ll be more structured and disciplined with traits. We all have characteristics
in all six of those, but what our job is is to
help you navigate learning about those and ranking
yourself one through six. What’s most like you and
what’s least like you. And then we help match jobs that kind of allow for you to express
those characteristics. So if you have a chance
and you decide, I mean, I would recommend you do that, anyhow, because you have an opportunity then to go in and fill out a profile. And then, if you attend one
of our career development workshops or work with a career counselor, you can still get that $30 application fee waived by December, if you
do it by December 14th. If you leave here today saying, I’m not gonna put up an application ’cause I just don’t know what to apply for, know that you can still go into that room and let them know you’re undecided and they’ll have you put up a student profile. And then, I believe, we’ll
even reach out to you and say, you know, here’s
our career workshops. You attended open house. If you complete a career
counseling process by December 14th we’ll waive that $30. I’m not sure if you got
that information or not. Just know that. This is, whoops, I forgot I
had this this time (laughs). Up at the table there’s a handout of our rest of our semester’s career workshops. We try to offer ’em at flexible times. We also this semester
are trying something new. It’s called Collaborate where you can attend the workshop from home. It’s an online version of the workshop, but you can’t do it whenever you want. You actually have to do it at the scheduled times that you can log on live. So that’s there. We offer ’em each semester. We put up usually three or four a month throughout the summer. We strongly encourage that environment, but we also one-on-one career planning. So if you’re somebody that you’re working and your days and nights are full, and maybe you can just get away for a couple one hour appointments, know that you can stop by counseling and advising office tonight
and you can schedule that appointment if you
wanna connect that way. Okay? Why am I not… Just, I guess, part of it is, once again, emphasizing the fact
that this is a process, it’s not a one and done. We know that students
that have a clear picture of what they wanna do
when they start school and what that’s gonna
look like along the way and the possible options
are more likely to retain both at the two-year and
the four-year levels. One of the reasons
students will not complete is because they didn’t
connect to that career goal. They didn’t see what that
vision could provide. I really, really encourage, if you’re in that group
that raised your hand that said, I really have no idea, I really recommend the workshop, but the one-on-one would be great, too. If you were in that
group that said, I have, I kinda have an idea, I’m
not a hundred percent sure, but I have some idea, certainly, go through E130 and talk to, we have career counselors
in that room right now that’ll kinda talk you through what you’re thinking and give you some suggestions for checking out program areas in the commons. We’re all here to help and
support you, but I always say, we can’t help you if
you don’t ask for help. Know that it’s a free service
to the general public. And if you come in,
we’ll help listen to your story and help you
navigate your next steps.

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