Feb 032017

KimBY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That commonly held wisdom is easy to repeat, but for those stuck in a less-than-loved job, or young adults ready to embark on a career pathway, it can also be elusive. That’s where Kim VanderHooven comes in. During two decades of advising area university students – and noticing that many were choosing a career path for the wrong reasons – she founded CareerStrong, to help others more accurately answer, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “In high school, often students think, ‘I’m good in science and I get good grades, so I’ll go into a medical field and make a lot of money,’” she said. “But that’s not always a good indicator of fit.” Statistics show that such an approach doesn’t often work. College students change their majors an average of three times during their college careers. Only 14 percent of U.S. workers believe they have the perfect job. More than half want to change careers. Using the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, VanderHooven looks at her clients’ strengths and interests. The Strong Interest Survey takes a client’s answers and looks at themes, including social, artistic, enterprising, conventional, investigative and realistic, explaining the interests, work activities, potential skills and values linked to each area. For each, the top 10 occupations are listed. The most comprehensive report shows the individual’s work and leadership style, preferred work environment, ability to work with others and comfort level with risk-taking. The Strong assessment was developed in the 1920s and is still considered the most reliable and valid method of measuring a person’s match to occupations, VanderHooven said. That’s because it’s updated with input from individuals who work in each of the fields and are satisfied with their chosen occupation. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator looks into your personality, to better show your areas of strength. “It’s finding out who you are and who you are not,” VanderHooven said. As a high school graduate, VanderHooven thought she wanted to work in a law office, but an internship convinced her otherwise. While earning a degree in business administration at Lourdes, she took an internship opportunity in a public relations office and loved it. Later, she began working in Lourdes’ admissions office. After earning a master’s degree in counseling at Bowling Green State University, VanderHooven worked for 20 years in academic advising for BGSU, Heidelberg and Owens Community College. She now teaches career development and entrepreneurship with TEACH Co-Op, a group of Christian homeschoolers. When speaking with students about their career goals, she seeks to find their passions. One young man was disenfranchised about his college path, but became animated when talking about his hobbies of working on motors and four-wheelers. She asked why he didn’t consider an occupation related to that area. “No one told him he could,” she said. “I’m the other voice.” High school seniors are often too busy playing sports, working and enjoying senior year to think seriously about a career. Some assume they’ll figure it out after taking some general courses in college, but these core classes generally don’t provide insight into career possibilities. Additionally, college advisors often have very large caseloads, leaving little time for in-depth assistance. High school counselors are often in the same situation, working to assist hundreds and hundreds of students with a myriad of issues. With CareerStrong, VanderHooven has students take online assessments, then provides a detailed interpretation as well as resources for further researching possible careers. “She helped me discover my personality strengths, which in turn helped me realize that there are a lot of career opportunities and choices in the area I’m interested in,” said one client, Danielle. One client with a mechanical aptitude did research and discovered a career repairing elevators – a job that requires working in small spaces, often at heights, after getting very detailed training. He loves the job, which also pays well, VanderHooven said. Career research should include, if possible, shadowing someone in the job. One client believed she wanted to be a dietician, but realized after one day of shadowing that the job didn’t have as much one-on-one interaction with patients as she originally thought. “Expand your knowledge of the working world. See if you can find a company where you can shadow someone or get more information on what it’s like, training and if there’s room for advancement,” she said. “The more you know, the better decision you’ll make.” For more information on CareerStrong, visit www.careerstrong.net or email VanderHooven at kim@careerstrong.net.