Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Career Key Central is Hot

I am literally roasting here in the Pacific Northwest. At this moment, it’s over 100 degrees. This is a place where very few people (including us) have air conditioning. If you want AC, you have to get in your car – which is what I did with my young son after work yesterday. Barnes and Noble train table here we come! It appears the whole week will be like this and I will spend a lot of time in B and N after work. Meanwhile Career Key author Dr. Jones is in Maine with the cool fog and rain. Right now, I envy him.

I’m in the midst of launching exciting new products like 5 Steps to Choosing the Right Career Cluster, Field and Pathway. It is the only valid career test and the only measure of Holland's 6 personality types to be matched to the Department of Education's Career Clusters and Pathways. You can see the new, free web article here:
Choosing a Career Cluster, Career Field or Pathway

And I'm just about to release the The Education Key, that will match Career Key test results to over 1,400 college majors and training programs in the U.S. and Canada.

But right now all I can think of is a cold beverage….

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Take the Best Career Test on Your iPhone or Handheld/Smartphone

On your iPhone or handheld/smartphone, you can now take the best, quickest, and one of the few scientifically valid career tests on the Internet, The Career Key. You can access our website, take the test, and access your saved results and matching careers anywhere you have wi-fi or 3G access.

We haven’t yet developed an iPhone or mobile phone app but you technically don’t need one. An app would make it a little easier to read, so I’m looking into creating one. But using double screen taps to enlarge the text, you can answer test questions, download and read our color PDF “What Your Test Scores Mean” and look at your saved career list and links.

I’m ashamed to admit that I just got a handheld. I had a Blackberry when I worked at the State Patrol but I never used it for Internet access (back in 2003) because the interface was so slow and difficult to read.

Last weekend, the Apple sales guy looked at my 6 year old cell phone (only capable of making a phone call) and said cheerfully, “Hey, I had one of those in high school!” Talk about feeling old and cheap at the same time – what could be worse? But my new iPhone immediately made me feel better, prettier, younger. Just like the marketing said it would! Viva la handheld! And forgive my preoccupation with age today - it's my 30 something birthday...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Career Key Websites Graduate to a New, More Powerful Server

The Career Key's popularity is a blessing, but has also resulted in gradually more load - requiring a server upgrade. Over the weekend, we migrated our websites to a new, more powerful server. Not only did the upgrade make our sites and tests at least twice as fast, it also brings improvements to how the tests work.

I want to thank our programmers: Nate, Joe, Whit, Will, and Andrew and our web designer Jeremy Bishop of Jeremiah Designs for making this upgrade and migration possible. There is no way we could have smoothly accomplished this big task without such talented people. And I really appreciate all the time worked at night and on weekends.

Migrating to a new server takes a lot more work and is a lot more complicated than you might think. It's not just a matter of copying a bunch of files over onto a new machine. (wish it was!) I spend a lot of time with programmers and technical people (I'm married to one) so I definitely appreciate the work and expertise required more than most.

Our technical team really cares about helping people without the promise of big bucks. So I am even more grateful for their help. Thank you!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Free Online MIT Courses Are Great Career & Brain Boosters

If you are looking to experience a free undergraduate or graduate education at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), it’s only a mouse click away. MIT and their Sloan School of Management, through their OpenCourseWare website, offer over 1,900 courses in the sciences, management and humanities for free. Wow. They also offer resources especially useful for high school students and teachers.

It’s like a free course audit without the commute (or paperwork). No registration is required. And many of these courses have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, and other languages.

I came across it because a friend of mine was preparing for job interviews in the sciences and was looking to boost and refresh his knowledge of some topics that interest him and are relevant to his work.

You don’t get to put a degree from MIT on your resume, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt in your next information or job interview to say, “I am interested in [career relevant topic] so I found that MIT offered an online course in it – I learned/remembered a few things, like ______?”

OpenCourseWare is yet another way to increase your knowledge and skills in a particular area – or refresh old principles long forgotten in your high school or undergrad haze…

Thursday, July 9, 2009

5 Ideas for "Off the Clock" Activities that Help Your Career

Time to give your career some help. Whether you are a victim of job dissatisfaction, unemployed, or discouraged that your career is not as fulfilling as you'd like, you can still improve your career choice "off the clock" or "off duty." Why not enjoy yourself and improve your career prospects at the same time?

Here are my top 4 ideas for making your "off the clock" time enjoyable and helpful to your career:
  1. Learn more about yourself to find the activities you enjoy doing and skills you enjoy using.
  2. Learn how Holland's Theory of Career Choice applies to you, both at work and at leisure. If needed, make some new career goals to bring positive, forward looking direction to your life.
  3. Identify new skills you'd like to have and your future career goal requires.
  4. Find activities that teach and use these skills. You may have little extra time, but even the right volunteer position can be limited in time-commitment - once a month, once every few months...
  5. Play with the Internet - but focus on your career interests, not your Facebook page. What is going on with your account on "LinkedIn"? Are you signed up for Google News Alerts related to your career interests? What's new with any professional organizations you belong to? Use the Internet to find ideas for local activities and projects to get involved in.
For example:
You're a Social personality type, working as a social worker but feeling overwhelmed, underpaid, and unsure whether you're making a difference. You use the phrase "burned out" a lot. Your second and third highest Holland personality types are Investigative and Enterprising. You've thought of trying to get into management so there is less face to face contact with clients, but more control over strategic direction. A higher salary would be great!

You enjoy helping people and have great communications skills, are good at earning people's trust and developing rapport, and have a lot of experience in navigating bureaucracy.

You might be interested in a second job or volunteer project that involves:

- helping write a grant proposal;
- a project where you supervise other volunteers or staff;
- mentoring or serving as a Big Brother or Big Sister;
- providing support to a local university social science department doing a study on a social issue of interest to you; or
- other activities with a clear, positive outcome that involve helping people, managing others or investigating a social problem.

If you have enough money or a tuition reimbursement program at work (lucky you), are there classes in business management, grantwriting, or social sciences that help advance your career, teach new skills, and/or keep you updated in your field of interest? You can learn more about choosing a training and educational program at The Career Key website.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson and My Career Flashback

I was pretty shocked when Michael Jackson died – not because I thought he was in the best of health, but he was such a big part of my teenage years. I wasn’t a breathless fan with his poster on my bedroom wall but I did enjoy his music.

In 1992, I remember listening to a concert of his in Munich from a nearby hilltop, with several thousand other penniless fans. It’s one of those memories that takes you back to where you were in your life. I can clearly picture the stormy evening sky, warm but a little threatening. Unable to afford study abroad, I found a way to pay for my summer in Europe as part of a university work abroad program. I worked in Siemens' corporate legal department. That summer was lonely, wonderful and a big influence on me.

At that time a junior in college, I hadn’t decided whether I wanted to be a lawyer or a professor like my father. I’m now surprised how few career options I gave myself. It was an exciting international time – the Berlin Wall had come down and I had recently returned to Checkpoint Charlie, 12 years after I’d lived in West Berlin as a child. Gone were the mines and anti-tank “crosses” and in their place… grass.

I can think of a lot of school and career advice to give myself back then – be more confident in yourself, take a little more time to smell the roses, give yourself more options, don’t be too influenced by what your friends are doing, etc., etc. – the usual cliches. But if I knew all those things from the beginning, then life so far would not have been as interesting. Being too wise would’ve been predictable and boring.

I didn’t tune into the Jackson memorial service today; I’ll stick with my own memories of that time period in my life and how his music was a part of it. The funny thing is that the energy his music brought out in me is still there. So I'm confident that 2 career paths later – and more to come, it will be there to power me forward.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Should you go to graduate school?

Many people are now considering whether to attend graduate school - recent college grads facing a poor job market, people considering a career change or upgrade, and unemployed B.A. holders looking for something to tide them over until the recession ends. If you do it, make sure you have a clear, well researched career goal in mind for how to use it.

In the early 90s, I was in the first category - a college grad facing a job market where it seemed like a Liberal Arts B.A. was no better than a high school diploma for getting a good paying job. But I had a clear career goal - being a labor or maritime lawyer. I took several valid interest inventories like The Career Key, worked as a clerk in a law office during college, did informational interviews with other lawyers - to learn more about it and to be sure it was right for me. And it was - for 10+ years - I still work at a legal clinic.

I came across a great "pros and cons" discussion that you should read if you are thinking of going to graduate school. "What is a Masters Degree Worth" is a June 30 NYT blog panel discussion, with more links to other resources like MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston's column "Is your degree worth $1 million - or worthless?"

The big mistakes that people make with grad school is that they enroll because (1) they think they have no other options and don't know what else there is to do, and/or (2) they don't have a clear, well thought out and researched career goal in mind.

Here is an example of such a mistake: say you decide you want to work in Washington D.C. as a policy researcher for a think tank by getting a masters or Ph.D. in political science - without doing a lot of research about how much you would be paid, how long it would take to pay back your loans, and where you (seriously) would have a good chance of getting a job. And without talking with several people in the job of your dreams to get the real story about it.

You avoid these mistakes by choosing a career that matches your personality using a science-based process for making a decision. It takes a little work, but it is straightforward and intuitive. My choice to go to law school wasn't perfect, and it wasn't like I didn't doubt it in tough times. But I knew I'd done a lot of soul searching and research to make the decision - that ultimately proved to be the right choice and one without regrets. I hope you'll do the same.