Training Page

Career Theory Training


Kellie Corbisiero, MS, CCC

Table of Contents

Our Mission and Our Story 1

Importance of Career Theory2

Narrative Theory/ Career Construction (Mark Savickas)3

Theory Summary3



Activity: Your Career Journey4-5

Classroom Activity: Career Journey6

Psychological Type Theory (Carl Jung)7

Theory Summary7


MBTI Type Definitions7-8


Activity: MBTI Case Study9-10

Classroom Activity: MBTI Group Interpretation10

Happenstance Theory (Krumboltz/Levin/Mitchell)11

Theory Summary11



Activity: Happenstance Event12

Classroom Activity: Happenstance Event12

Chaos Theory of Careers (Bright/Pryor)13

Theory Summary13



Demonstration: Puppies and ping pong balls13

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs14

Theory Summary14

Maslow Check14



Career Passion Conundrum15

What should you do?15

Free Resources15

Paid Resources15

Values, Needs, Skills, Interests, and Personality16-17

Undocumented, DACA and Dreamers17

Occupational Options18

Extended Studies18

Non-Profit Resources19

College-Based Resources19

Activity: Student Profile20


Generational Differences21

Gig Economy21

Career Identity22

Expectations vs. Reality23

Impact of the Family and Culture24-25

10 Minute Assessment/Triage26

Integration into General Counseling Appointments and Career Intervention Plan27

Career Intervention Plan Sample28

Career Acquisition29

Resource Summary30

Works Cited31

Our Mission

Provide comprehensive, holistic career counseling services in the form of training and consulting to educate counselors on the successful holistic interventions for facilitating career and major selection with undecided and decided students.

Our Story

My name is Kellie Corbisiero, and I am the founder of Connect Career Consulting. I am a Certified Career Counselor offering over ten years of progressive career counseling, human resources, and educational counseling experience. I founded this company to make a difference. I saw a need for comprehensive career theoretical training, assistance with the college process and a clear path for individuals to identify their career direction. I have worked in education for over 15 years, first starting as a Student Worker, then on to a Classified Staff position, adjunct faculty and now tenured faculty. I knew what I was doing with students worked and I knew I could have the greatest impact if I provided this information in the form of a training to other Counselors so they could use my techniques and further help their students. I bring my knowledge as a first-generation student, and experience of having worked in a variety of education-based positions to help you be of greater help to others. I know this work is my soul intention and it is my honor to share this knowledge with you.
IG: @ConnectCareerConsulting

Why Incorporate Career Theory?

Students indicate in multiple studies that the reason they come to college is to get a career, yet they get to college and are told to choose a major. Most students do not understand what they can do with their major or how they go from major to career.

“Current research reports indicate that the needs for career planning and placement assistance among college students have become extremely comprehensive and intense (Astin, Korn, & Riggs, 1993; Herr & Cramer, 1992; Herr, Rayman, & Garis, 1993; McBride & Muffo, 1994; Rayman, 1993). Students continue to report that a primary purpose for attending college is to prepare for a career but that they need professional help to do so (Astin et al., 1993; Weissberg, Berentsen, Cote, Carvey, & Health, 1982).” (Orndorff, Robert M., Herr, Edwin L, 1996)

“Uncertainty or lack of academic and career goals is one of the most significant reasons students drop out of college without achieving their goals.” (Fralick, 1992)

“Voluntary departures, which included 85% of the dropouts, were often the most capable students on campus. These students dropped out because they lacked commitment and did not have clear academic or career goals.” (Fralick, 1993)

Modern Career Development

21st Century Skills Considerations:

  1. Critical Thinking

7. Technology Literacy

  1. Creativity

8. Flexibility

  1. Collaboration

9. Leadership

  1. Communication

10. Initiative

  1. Information Literacy

11. Productivity

  1. Media Literacy

12. Social Skills

Building Skills Literacy into Counseling:

Promote empowerment by educating students on the steps for completing various tasks need to be successful as a student.

Example: A student comes to you because they are having an issue with their Psychology Professor. The student claims that the Professor is always late to class and spends the class time just showing them videos of therapists Counseling while they sit at the back of the class on their phone.

Action: Show the student how to draft a professional email to the Department Chair and Dean and show them how they would make a formal complaint.

Avoid: Calling the Dean yourself or writing the email yourself.

Response: Student leans how to appropriately address issues on their own. This creates empowerment and avoids a Parent Ego State response.

Skills Learned: Communication, Information Literacy, Medica Literacy, Leadership, Initiraitve, and Socail Skills.

Careers Are Not Linear: Career development is often conveyd as a linear process even though we all know that is not how it goes. I beliebe this is a leftover anaalgy from the traditional schooling procee.

Traditional K-12 Schooling is very linear. You know that after K you go to 1st grade and after 1st grade you go to 2nd grade. It is very logical and linear and infact we are taught this process over the course of 13 years. It becomes so ingrained in our brain that many 18 year olds have a hard time transisiotning to college where all of a sudden that linear process is replaced with an abstract and often confusion process.

Imagin going from years of know exactly what grade would come next, only to get into college and not know what would come next because what comes next is determined by your major choice.

When we look at the linear career ideaology it makes complete sense why our students think that, beucase that is what their brain has been taught for years.

The fact of the matter is that Careers are a Journey and they are a part of our life and we will have many careers in our career journey.

Action: During your first session with a student be sure to go over the difference between Job and Career and explin that the student will most likely have many jobs. The last generation to be singular job focused was the Baby Boomer generation and most of them are retired now. Our Gen Z and Millennial students will have many jobs.

Modern Career Development Cycle:

As the world and technology changes are students will also need to change. Are students will “Always Be Learning” There is no one and done educational path.

Step 1: Research Step- Exploring and undesstanding options and direction and identify a goal.

Step 2: Education/Training- Determinign what education and training is needed.

Step 3: Digital Presence- Develop and cultivate a digital precnese. (Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Clubhouse.)

Step 4: Career Awareness- Learn about new job options as you progress in your training, digital presecens and current job.

Step 5: Re-Brand/Update Branding- Stay relavent and update as needed. Stagnation will end upward mobility. Start the cycle again.

Narrative Assessment/ Career Construction Theory (Mark Savickas)

Theory Summary: Counseling using career construction theory starts with an interview of the student to identify and reveal the student’s life. Completing this career style interview will elicit stories to help the counselor identify and understand the student’s career style and provide an understanding of the student’s life from a narrative perspective. (Savickas, 2005)

The stories are not intended to identify the student’s future career, but as a tool to help the student shape their future. In telling stories, the student able to identify current goals and aspirations. (Savickas, 2005)

It’s important as the counselor not to become overwhelmed by the stories but to analyze stories and identify the steps students can take to reach their goals. From the counseling perspective, this theory facilitates the student to inhabit their life fully. (Savickas, 2005)

In its counseling application, career construction theory assists clients in fully inhabiting their lives and becoming more complete as they sustain themselves and contribute to their communities. (Savickas, 2005)

Career Construction Theory is a form of Narrative Assessment designed for usage in Career Counseling as defined by Mark Savickas Ph.D. The theory is a well-rounded cross-cultural technique that allows the student to tell you their unique story through the utilization of career-focused open-ended questions. Utilization of this technique allows the student to share their unique experience with their culture, career and their family as it relates to career choice and personal journey. (Savickas, 2005)

Benefits: A cross-cultural technique that can facilitate the student verbally working through their thoughts and ideas through targeted questions. By utilizing this theory, you will be asking students question they have never been asked and help them facilitate an understanding of career options form their own cultural and personal lens. (Savickas, 2005)

Limitations: Some students may not feel comfortable speaking with you at this level of detail at a first appointment or at all. Office branding and the primary explanation of the counseling session can help students feel comfortable and understand what to expect.

Sample questions to get started:

  • What does healthy career development mean to you?
  • How did you come to understand this?
  • Tell me how your family and friends’ impact or have impacted your career development.
  • Tell me about the challenges/barriers you have experienced in your career development.
  • How did you discover these challenges/barriers?
  • What are the most important factors in overcoming the barriers to obtaining a career?
  • How did you decide that these are the most important?
  • Tell me about your career history (your first job, volunteer opportunity or a time you helped out)
  • Tell me about your parents or the people/person that raised you in regard to careers and jobs.
  • What did they do? Did they like their careers?
  • What would be most helpful for counselors/career development professionals to know about the challenges you are facing?
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell me about your career experiences?

Tip: It can help to have a small cheat sheet of these questions in your office to help you out the first few times you use this technique.

Activity: My Career Journey
Using the next page, you will discuss your career journey using a timeline. With a colleague, switch workbooks so you have your colleague’s book and they have yours. Using what you have learned about career construction theory, ask your colleague open-ended questions to learn more about the career journey that brought them to where they are today. You can start at whatever age you would like and can even start with what you wanted to be when you were a child. Create a timeline with ages, career interests and jobs that led your colleague to where they are today. You will have 10 minutes to develop your colleague’s timeline. You should be using your colleague’s book to write the timeline so that they get to keep their timeline.

My Career Journey:

Classroom Activity: The career journey activity can be used in the classroom and is a great tool for a counselor led course. You can even change the focus from career to having the students use open-ended questions to learn more about another student in the class. In a classroom setting, allow the students to have at least 30 minutes each to develop their timelines. Once the timelines are complete, you can have the students present each other’s timeline, allowing everyone to get to know each other. This activity is a great way to build a sense of community and help students practice active listening skills. I also recommend using a larger sheet of paper to do this in a classroom setting.

Psychological Type Theory (Carl Jung)

Theory Summary: Carl Jung established a theory which views personality types as
universal. Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers took his work and translated it into a real work application through their assessment the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The types categorized by Carl Jung are present in all of us, but certain types are predominant over the normal mode of organizing our experience. (Jung, 2016) (Martin, 1997)

Benefit: Type theory is an excellent tool to help students learn to understand themselves and others from a framework of personality. Instead of focusing on interests, it takes a culturally sensitive view in the framework of the questions. The interpretation process allows students to understand how their personality relates to their energy and careers they might enjoy. Research indicates that psychological type is universal across cultures. (Jung, 2016) (Martin, 1997)

The MBTI is the leading personality assessment based off of Carl Jung’s work. Developed by the mother and daughter team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. The assessment is translated and validated in 21 different languages. The assessment is best taken in your native language or the language you spoke the longest.

For Example: If a student is fluent in English but grew up in Mexico and finished high school in Mexico, I would recommend the Spanish version of the MBTI. (Kirby, Kendall, and Barger, 2007) (Martin, 1997)

MBTI Type Definitions from Looking at Type: The Fundamentals by Charles R. Martin (CAPT 1997)

Extraversion (E)

I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.

Introversion (I)

I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.

Sensing (S)

Paying attention to physical reality, what I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. I’m concerned with what is actual, present, current, and real. I notice facts and I remember details that are important to me. I like to see the practical use of things and learn best when I see how to use what I’m learning. Experience speaks to me louder than words.

Intuition (N)

Paying the most attention to impressions or the meaning and patterns of the information I get. I would rather learn by thinking a problem through than by hands-on experience. I’m interested in new things and what might be possible, so that I think more about the future than the past. I like to work with symbols or abstract theories, even if I don’t know how I will use them. I remember events more as an impression of what it was like than as actual facts or details of what happened.

Thinking (T)

When I make a decision, I like to find the basic truth or principle to be applied, regardless of the specific situation involved. I like to analyze pros and cons, and then be consistent and logical in deciding. I try to be impersonal, so I won’t let my personal wishes–or other people’s wishes–influence me.

Feeling (F)

I believe I can make the best decisions by weighing what people care about and the points-of-view of persons involved in a situation. I am concerned with values and what is the best for the people involved. I like to do whatever will establish or maintain harmony. In my relationships, I appear caring, warm, and tactful.

Judging (J)

I use my decision-making (Judging) preference (whether it is Thinking or Feeling) in my outer life. To others, I seem to prefer a planned or orderly way of life, like to have things settled and organized, feel more comfortable when decisions are made, and like to bring life under control as much as possible. Since this pair only describes what I prefer in the outer world, I may, inside, feel flexible and open to new information (which I am).

Perceiving (P)

I use my perceiving function (whether it is Sensing or Intuition) in my outer life. To others, I seem to prefer a flexible and spontaneous way of life, and I like to understand and adapt to the world rather than organize it. Others see me staying open to new experiences and information. (Martin, 1997)

Limitations: The expression of some personalities is different based on culture. While the results are in the high 90 percentile for accuracy upon re-test six months or six years later it is still not 100 percent accurate. This assessment is one of the most inaccurately interpreted assessments as many people assume because of all of the information that is available about the assessment that they can provide an interpretation without certification often to the detriment of the student. (Martin, 1997)

There is a lot of misinformation on social media that gives people preconceived ideas about the assessment and can lead to a negative perception of their results.

There is a lack of controlled scientific studies on the effectiveness of type theory.

Tip: Always inquire about the student’s native language and how long they have spoken it. Many of our students pick up the English language very quickly or have been studying it for many years in their home country, and it is often hard to know if they are a native English speaker or not.

Activity: MBTI Case Study
Read through the case study with a colleague. What recommendations would you make for the student? How would you help him using what you know about type theory?

Case Study

Luis is a 19-year-old Latino male student. He is about to begin his second year of college and is concerned about his future. He initially came to college as an engineering major, and when he went in for his first counseling appointment and got his first education plan, he became very overwhelmed with the number of math courses he would need to take. In high school, he was never very good at math but managed to pass his classes. He decided to follow the counselor’s plan and attempt the math classes. To his dismay, at the end of his first year, he had attempted and failed his pre-calculus course both semesters. He had passed all of his English and other GE courses with As, but because his goal was engineering, he was becoming discouraged and was beginning to feel like college just wasn’t for him since he could not pass his math class.

Luis was speaking to a friend of his about his situation. His friend had recently seen a counselor who helped him with a similar issue, and he referred Luis to that counselor. After speaking with his friend, Luis decided to give counseling another try and went to the Career Center. The center staff advised him to take the MBTI and to meet with a counselor for the interpretation.

In your first meeting you get the following information from Luis:

  1. He did attempt to get tutoring on campus for his math class, but he said he just couldn’t grasp the concepts.
  2. He said he has always been the kind of person his friends go to for advice and is a really good listener.
  3. He identifies that he does want a profession that allows him to help people.
  4. He likes to be creative but also likes to follow the rules.
  5. His personality type is INFJ.

Assuming you have done the basic MBTI interpretation, how would you use what you know about type theory to help Luis?

Additional activities for the classroom: Group MBTI interpretations are a great team building activity in the classroom. Most students can’t afford to pay for the formal MBTI assessment making the and websites great free alternative resources. I have had pretty good luck with their accuracy with larger student groups. Have student’s separate into groups by their type and then assign the following activities to the groups.

For each breakout have the students assign a recorder and a reporter to present their findings after each breakout.

E/I: Have each group describe their strengths and weaknesses. Select two jobs they would love and two they would dislike.

S/N: Using children’s “Mega block Legos” (2 bags is enough for a classroom of 30), distribute the Legos evenly among the groups of students. Tell the groups to “make a shape”. Don’t give them any further instructions. Once completed, ask the groups to tell you about their shape. S- Tend to make actual shapes and don’t mind not using all of the Legos. N- Tend to build creative sculptures that often have a story behind them.

T/F: Create a short story that would appeal to anyone. (I avoid using any animal-related stories, as it tends to affect the outcome. For example, a Thinker who would normally provide a Thinker response may give a Feeler response if they are an animal lover.)

Sample Story: A man walked into a grocery store filled a grocery cart up with items and proceeded to walk out of the front doors of the story and out into the parking lot. You walk up to him as he is approaching his car and ask him if he had paid for the items and the man said “No.” He proceeds to tell you that his wife died six months ago and left him to care for their five kids on his own.

I then tell the students that they are the manager of the store and they have complete autonomy to decide what should happen to this man. I also say they must all agree in their group on the decision. F-Tend to want to provide him with recourses and help. T-Tend to want to follow the law and the rules i.e., he stole so he should be prosecuted. As a twist at the end, I like to ask them “Did I say there were groceries in the cart?” I then show a slide that says it was actually “full of cigarettes and beer”. The Thinkers then feel vindicated, and the Feelers see how depending on the situation, their response will change.

J/P: For this activity, I have them “Throw a Party” with an unlimited budget. J-Tend to have more structure and invitations. P- Tend to have wild elaborate parties with little planning.

MBTI Certification Training: ( a comprehensive online training fully authorized by CPP to offer the training online. It is a 40+ hour program done from the comfort of your home on your time

Happenstance Theory (Mitchell/Levin/Krumboltz)

Theory Summary: The utilization of chance events, unpredictable social factors or predictable events to influence an individual’s career experience. The theory recognizes that these experiences can be negative or positive but are all beneficial. (Krumboltz, Levin, 2011)

Four traits to encourage utilizing Happenstance Theory:

  • Curiosity to explore any opportunities that might be around.
  • Persistence despite setbacks and encouraging grit and exploration of transferable skills.
  • Flexibility to handle issues as they arise and flexibly address problems.
  • Placing a focus on positive energy instead of negative energy

“Clients often expect counselors to match them up with ideal jobs and counselors often play into the client’s unrealistic expectations by failing to challenge the assumption that a career counselor can meet this request.”

Instead of playing along, perhaps it would be better for counselors to say, if I had the ideal job for you in my pocket, I’d take it out and hand it to you right now. But that’s not the way the system works.

You want to build a satisfying life for yourself. I’d like to help you LEARN how to do it. Instead of striving to help clients identify their one ideal job, career counselors may be of far more value to clients by teaching them how to enhance the quality of their lives.” (Krumboltz, Levin, 2011)

Benefit: This theory allows the counselor to become the teacher to empower the student to make decisions and make the most of unexpected occurrences in their life. Happenstance theory encourages “planned happenstance”. This can be described as networking, job shadowing, informational interviews, and making the most of unplanned events. For example, if you are unemployed and looking for work, you would want to be sure that you mention to anyone you may know that you are looking for work as you never know who may have an opportunity for you. Happenstance theory also encourages internships and trying out different jobs with the idea that you never know where one job will lead you. It encourages being flexible and not being set on one job in one location at one company, but rather being open to the options in a career field. (Krumboltz, Levin, 2011)

Questions to get you started with students:

Describe a chance event you wish would happen to you.

How can you act now to increase the likelihood of that desirable event?

How would your life change if you acted?

How would your life change if you did nothing?

Real Student Example: I had a student who after learning about Happenstance in our Career Development class happened to be at a Halloween party and mentioned that she had been having a hard time finding a job to a few people despite being very well qualified. An individual at the party overheard her and was hiring and asked if she wanted to come in for an interview for a job that matched her qualifications. She ended up getting the job, and it is exactly what she wanted.

Limitations: Many students have a hard time launching from the point of indecision to the point of action. Students that have an introvert preference may have difficulty doing the necessary networking needed and may need extra encouragement. Some students also have a hard time conceptualizing the idea of making a happenstance event. An additional limitation is how different generations prefer to network and communicate. (Krumboltz, Levin, 2011)

Activity: Happenstance Event
Take 2-3 minutes to think of a happenstance event that happened in your career or personal life. A time when you took advantage of a networking opportunity or an unexpected opportunity came out of an unexpected situation. (Example: During the recession I couldn’t find more than one adjunct job as a Counselor, so I got a job working in Human Resources at the State of California. I hated the job, but I learned so much that I still use today. While I didn’t like the job, the knowledge I gained was very beneficial to my current job.)

Take 5 minutes to share your story with a colleague.

Classroom Activity: The same activity can be used in the classroom to help students how to understand happenstance events. If you have a predominately younger group of students in your class, then you can stick to examples in their life instead of their career.

For Example: Tell me about an unexpected event that turned out to be something positive in your life.

Chaos Theory of Careers (Bright/Pryor)

Theory Summary: Small changes can make large impacts on an individual’s life. This theory encourages small changes to make big impacts, and that career development is ever changing and unpredictable. It encourages counselors to facilitate clients in developing a sense of flexibility and willingness to make changes to improve their career life or to find a new career.

“The common claim [of Career Development Theory] is that a life can be encapsulated, summed up, captured in a three-letter code, or in a narrative, and that past behaviour predicts future behaviour… we would be right to be humble about our capabilities to understand the trajectory and cautious in making any long-term deterministic predictions about the future. The Chaos Theory of Careers draws attention to the limitations of our simplifications and the challenges of living uncertainly in our predictably complex world.” Pryor and Bright (2011) (Words in this section may appear as typos but are the British spellings)

Benefit: Encourages students to see that careers are not linear but can rather evolve and change over time and are unpredictable. This theory encourages being flexible to help students be more successful and have less stress when their career options don’t go as they had planned. Also, it emphasizes the idea that small changes can have a big impact. Often students view returning to college as a big change and something that may not be attainable but utilizing this theory, we can encourage them to see that a subtle change such a taking a single class can have a big impact on their future in a positive way.

This theory works well with older or returning students to help them understand that it is okay that their career path may not have been how they planned or linear. It is also a great technique to teach younger students that we can’t predict with any certainty that they will have one job for their entire working career. A lot of the new research shows that millennials and igen/gen z will typically change jobs every few years and will lean towards having more “gigs” than a standard job.

Limitations: The theory itself is complex and will need to be adapted to the student population. Younger students often have a more difficult time with abstract thought because they are typically coming out of a more linear school system.

Example: If an individual is working a job they don’t like if they don’t do anything their situation will stay the same, but if they make subtle changes their situation could change for the better. In this scenario the individual could start looking for other jobs, start working on their resume and take “baby steps” in a new direction.

Demonstration: Puppies and Tennis Balls

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Theory Summary: Individuals will not be able to move into another area of the pyramid until they have had their needs met in the previous area.In order for individuals to achieve Self Actualization they need to go achieve all of the previous areas.

Maslow Check: Checking in with the student to see if they have the basic needs to be successful including the bottom two sections of the pyramid.

Benefit: When used from a career perspective, places importance on students having their needs met before they can make a career or academic decision. Utilizing this theoretical framework, we can help the students connect with social services to help them have their basic needs met. Many colleges do this by incorporating food pantries, allowing students to utilize shower facilities and by allowing them to sleep in their cars in the parking lot. Beyond basic needs utilizing a “Maslow Check” will help you figure out what other resources the student might need before making a career choice. During your first meeting with the student, it is good to do a Maslow Check. (Maslow, 1946)

Limitations: Student’s need to feel comfortable with you to open up about these needs as they may not be evident upon first meeting the student.

Career Passion Conundrum

Often to provide a sense of comfort and to encourage students to follow their heart when selecting a career, counselors often use phrases such as “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life” or “Just find your passion.” The problem is most students don’t know what their passion is, and these phrases leave them with no instructions on how to find it. It also implies that there is some magical dream career where you love it so much that all you want to do is work and nothing else. This notion can conjure up the idea of a workaholic invalidating the idea of work-life balance.

When considering socioeconomic status, culture and first-generation student status, many students don’t understand the meaning of passion. Consider the student who has been working since they were 14 years old to try to provide money to help their family. In this scenario, the student hasn’t been able to develop the concept of passion, and they are still left without a career choice which now increases their chance to drop out.

These phrases come from a perspective of privilege and should be used with caution and with accompanying instructions on how to reach these goals.

What Should You Do?

Instead of sharing a quote, show the student how to research careers and how to understand the process of making a career choice. Do the work with the student in the counseling session. If you have a millennial or gen z student, have them pull out their phone and show them how they can research on their phone. These students will most likely be using their phones to do this research and showing them how to do it will make it easier for them to pull the links back up on their phone.

Avoid handing students a paper with a link on it. Millennial and igen/genz students are less likely to do the research unless you do it with them and are more likely to lose the piece of paper. Ensure that the websites you show them are easy to use and not heavy technical websites.

Free Resources: Easy to use and mobile-friendly versions
O*Net: (While O*Net is a great website with a lot of good content, it is overwhelming and confusing for most students)

Paid Resources:
Road Trip Nation
Virtual Job Shadow

Values, Needs, Personality, Interests, and Skills

The basic tools in your toolbox will help you facilitate career selection with a student and almost always involves a combination of different interventions. Exploring the student’s values, needs, interests, skills, and personality to help them understand their best career choice is your best place to start. Avoid relying heavily on assessments to “tell” students what they should do and show them how to understand these parts of who they are as they relate to career choice.


Encourage your student to think about what they would value in a work environment.

Example: (Free values assessment)


What does the student need in a career? Challenge? Growth opportunity? High stress vs. easy going? Encourage the student to think about the day to day aspects of a job and the reality of the job.

Example: Many students want to be a nurse because they think that nurses don’t work a lot of hours or only work three days a week. The reality is that nurses have a really hard job and often work overtime.


Personality assessments are great conversation starters for students. Ensure that the assessments receive proper interpretation to ensure that the student knows that personality assessments are a tool to help them understand themselves and the counselor will connect it to careers.

Example: Encourage students to understand the relationship between personality and career choice, instead of providing them assessment links without interpretation.

Interests and Skills:

Avoid relying on interest and skills assessments because they lack a social justice component and can create an unfair career direction for students based on their socioeconomic status. The assessments often have good reliability in terms of ethnicity and race, but typically have little to no data for socioeconomic status.


Consider the two student profiles:

Student A: Raised in a financially affluent family by both parents who work as college professors. They spent their family vacations learning about new cultures by traveling the world. They attended a top-notch private high school.

Student B: Raised in a financially impoverished family by just their mother who works as a housekeeper. Didn’t grow up having vacations due to lack of money. Attended public high school while working part-time with their mother as a housekeeper.

These students have two very different life experiences and will have different skills and interests. By utilizing those forms of assessment, you could prevent either student from learning about a potential career of interests. There is no reason that despite their interests and skills these students couldn’t both pursue the same profession.

Undocumented, DACA and Dreamers



DREAMERS/AB 540 (Financial Aid)

Non-U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and do not currently possess a green card, visa, or other legal documentation, you are considered an undocumented immigrant.

  • Grants two-year worker authorization and temporary relief of deportation for eligible individuals.
  • DACA applications are reviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Provides a Social Security number that is valid for life, even after the temporary work authorization expires.
  • To qualify for the CA Dream Act, students must first complete their AB540 application
  • The California Dream Act Application allows students enrolled in eligible California Colleges, Universities and Career Education Programs to apply for state financial aid
  • CA Dream Act is unrelated to DACA and should not be confused with it.

Individuals who are a part of the DACA program or are undocumented/borderless almost always slip through the gaps in education. The vast majority of them being first-generation college students facing the same difficulties that all first-generation college student face, but with the added uncertainty of their immigration status. These individuals have fewer options when it comes to selecting a career until our nation provides a direct and clear path to citizenship. Their best strategy is having a career in mind that is in high demand and being flexible.

Some of these options may seem scary or unreasonable for some of the individuals you will encounter, but it’s better to empower them with options than for them to live in fear of the unknown. These students don’t have much control over their lives and future. If you can facilitate them proceeding in a career focused direction, you will increase their confidence in themselves by allowing them to take control by making a strategic career choice.

The strategies they need to be successful in the workforce starting in college:

  • Networking, Joining Clubs, Professional Associations and Volunteering
  • Being open and flexible: Happenstance
  • Targeting career options with high demand
  • Internship experience

Occupational Options

Medical Profession: There are ways that these individuals can attend a medical based school, but they will not be able to be to work or sit for licensing exams unless they are a part of the DACA program. These students will also not be eligible for employment unless they are a part of the DACA program.

Medical professions such as medical doctors and nurses are in demand in many countries and could have potential paid options outside of the country.

Civil, Petroleum, Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical, and Structural Engineering: These careers are in demand in many counties. Countries including New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, England, India, Japan, and China recruit heavily for these occupations. (Students will typically need to have done intern work to have the basics skills needed to qualify for these options abroad.) These jobs tend to pay well, often cover living expenses, and take care of all immigration documentation for the individual and their family or partner.

Law: Eligible for the Bar exam in California and can legally practice law (as of 2019, subject to change without notice)

Business/ Self Employment/Entrepreneur:
Most counties do not require a social security number for business licenses/certificates, and there are ways to get an EIN without a social security number.

Extended Studies: DACA or undocumented/borderless individuals often see extending their studies to receive in-state financial aid for the pursuit of additional education as a way to postpone the inevitable. Students may do this as a way to make ends meet when they are out of college if they were unable to find a job or if they did not renew their DACA status in time. If you encounter these students, they need to be connected to legal resources to know their options and should be considered in career distress. If these students are serious about pursuing additional education, they need to be targeted in their career choice.

Non-Profit Resources:

College-Based Resources:
UC Berkeley:
Cabrillo College:
UC Davis:

Activity: Student Profile

Read the case study below with your group and decide how you would help Jessica with her career options.

Jessica received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from San Diego State University (SDSU) in May of 2018 and is a DACA recipient. She was able to renew her DACA status and works on campus as a student assistant at your community college. She went to SDSU right out of high school, so she never had the chance to meet with an academic or career counselor. The advisors at SDSU were nice and when she tried to ask them for help with choosing a major, they had her take a random sampling of courses to see what she liked, but they couldn’t help her make a career decision. She ultimately decided on Communications as a major because she enjoyed the content of the classes. She loved her college experience, but the five years it took her to complete her degree went by too quickly. She went through her entire college experience without anyone ever asking her what she wanted to do with her degree. Reality hit her when she was walking across the graduation stage with a stoic smile instead of the large grins of her peers because she knew that unlike them, her future and immigration status was unclear. She came to your community college to take some classes and was referred to you by her supervisor for some career assistance.

Tip: Avoid The “Course Sampler Platter”
Avoid having the student take courses to see if they would like a particular major. This is a long-term investment in an average 16-week semester, and if the student doesn’t like the course and doesn’t do well in it, then they end up with courses they don’t need. Instead, utilize the techniques outlined in this training to get the student career focused.

Generational Differences

The research quoted in this section is derived from The Center for Generational Kinetics and The Deloitte.

Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 (Ages 55-73)- JFK assassination, moon landing

Generation X: 1965-1979 (Ages 40-54)- .com bubble burst, late 80’s recession, stock market crash of 87.

Millennials/Gen Y: 1980-1994 (Ages 25-39) (Some know) life pre-internet, pre-9/11, Great Recession.

iGen/Gen Z: 1995-2015/TBD (Ages 4-24 approx.) All only know life post internet, post-9/11, Great Recession, technology reliant.

The majority of our student population is in the Millennial and Gen Z generation.


Millennials are the largest portion of the workforce. Despite common media stories and “click bait”, most Millennials are not lazy or entitled, and there is research to prove it. (The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2016)

According to research from The Center for Generational Kinetics, the Millennials often seek challenging careers that provide a sense of purpose and work-life balance. They prefer to communicate through texting, email and social media instead of through a phone call or in-person.

Gen Z: “The You Tube Generation”

Predicted to be the most educated and most diverse generation. They consume the majority of their information from their mobile device. They prefer to communicate through their mobile device and seek work that they believe will make a difference in the world.

Gig Economy: Many of these students will operate in a contract or gig capacity with their career. (Think Uber and Lyft drivers)

Tip: After reviewing this section, can you see why we often have a hard time filling our career and academic workshops? Consider offering the workshops in a digital format live through Instagram or Zoom. If you have the capability, it is good to enable text reminders for workshops and appointments.

Career Identity

In most cultures, the term “Job” or a “Career” is tied to your identity. Think about the basic question that we all ask and get asked. “What do you do?” Your response may be “I am a counselor.” It seems simple, but if we say it enough, we start to believe that is our identity (think self-fulfilling prophecy) and if anything happens to strip that away (such as a layoff), it can leave individuals trapped thinking the only option for them is a counselor.

Refrain from using phrases like “What do you want to be?” or “What will you be when you grow up?” Instead, try explaining that the student will have many jobs in their lifetime. The Millennial and Gen Z generation are predicted to change jobs multiple times and are not like their predecessor Baby Boomers and Gen X who are more inclined to hold a job for years at a time. Encourage students to understand their transferable skills and that while their career is where they will spend a significant amount of their time, it is a part of their life, not their identity.

Example: Millennial and Gen Z tend to seek out more gigs where Gen X and Baby Boomers sought out stable careers.

Expectations vs. Reality

Many students have the belief that upon completing a college degree, they will have access directly into a career without anything other than the degree. The media often likes to mock recent college graduates for thinking they can get a degree and jump right into a job, but isn’t that what we have been telling them?

With phrases like: “people with a college degree make a million more dollars in their lifetime than those without one”, our educational institutions often fall short. We should include internships as part of degree requirements to provide the experiential component necessary to ensure a student graduates with experience and a degree.

It’s an important role of the counselor to not only facilitate career and major acquisition but to also explain the importance of internships to gain real-world experience. Internships provide students with an insider’s view of a potential career path and valuable networking opportunities. In a perfect world, students would be doing internships and job shadowing in high school to learn about different career options, but as it stands in college to career culture, students are choosing a major and then doing internships. Internships are an integral part of career acquisition and help dismantle stereotypes around a college degree, leading directly to their dream job.

Access to internships diminishes once a student leaves college, as many internship opportunities are only for current students. These are important realities for the counselor to bring up to encourage experience before graduation.

Impact of the Family and Culture

The family often is the loudest voice when it comes to career choice influence. Different cultures have different beliefs about what is a “good” career and what is acceptable culturally for their family to pursue. Cultures often measure value, self-worth, and success based on career choice. It is important to explore a student’s family and cultural beliefs associated with career choice. It is important to allow the student to explain their cultural beliefs associated with career choice and to avoid making assumptions based on appearance, race, ethnicity, ability or age. The issues that often arise with career choice and culture come to a head when the student’s desired career choice is not accepted culturally by their family.

Some families are so serious about their student’s pursuit of the desired career that they may even threaten to kick them out of the house or not help them pay for school if they don’t pursue the desired career.

The best technique to help students deal with this dilemma is to help them educate their family on the career options they could pursue. Sometimes it involves a family member coming to the counseling session and sometimes it is showing the student how to educate their family. This technique doesn’t work for all families and students, and there are limitations to the technique depending on the family. The technique involves four steps.

  1. Identify the student’s own career choice.
  2. Identify the parents’/family’s choice.
  3. Have the student explain the cultural beliefs associated with career choice.
  4. Empower the student with information on actual jobs they can get with the majors they want to present to their family as options. Be sure to provide them with salary information and techniques for speaking with their parents.

Techniques to share with the students when meeting with their family:

  1. Set a time to have the conversation
  2. Come prepared with detailed information about the jobs (Consider doing a PowerPoint/slide show)
  3. Have the student explain that while they appreciate their family’s input in their career that they know, they will not be successful unless they pursue a career they enjoy.

Often students in this situation are paralyzed by fear of disappointing their family or get frustrated with their family for “not getting them.” Often these students are undecided, and when they tell their family they don’t want to be a nurse, they don’t know what they would do instead. Give them the power to tell their family what they would do instead and the techniques for approaching them. Many times, families (first generation in particular) have a hard time connecting the major to career and often push their students towards majors that lead to a job, like nursing, dental hygiene, engineering…etc.

For example: Xena is a female student and is in her second year of college. Her parents are adamant that she become a nurse. Her mother is a preschool teacher, and her father owns a small contracting company. Xena tells you that her family culture views nursing as an honorable profession providing Xena with no shortage of work and a good income. Before Xena’s parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, her mother was a nurse, and her father was an accountant.

Xena has tried to approach her parents to tell them that she does not want to become a nurse, but every time she tries, it turns in to a fight, and her parents tell her if she doesn’t become a nurse, she will be poor and homeless.

Xena is currently in one of her prerequisite classes for nursing, her Anatomy class. This is her third attempt at the class, and she knows she isn’t doing well. She passed her prerequisites for her Anatomy class with a C, but only with the help of excessive tutoring. Xena’s other grades are suffering as well, and Xena is on academic probation for her GPA that is below a 2.0. Xena comes to see a counselor because she is on academic probation and doesn’t know what to do. In your discussion with Xena, you learn that she wants to become an artist and would love to work in an Art Museum. Her dream career would be to be an artist painting beautiful works of art, but also working at an Art Museum as she recognizes that becoming a famous artist is not always guaranteed. When she tells her parents, she wants to be an artist, she fails to discuss her back-up plan.

You work with Xena to help her learn techniques for approaching her parents. What would you have Xena do to help her get through to her parents?

10 Minute Assessment/Triage

Incorporating new techniques into your counseling style can take time and practice. We all have our own style and it can be difficult to learn new techniques and to remember to use them during your often-busy day. A great technique to start with is the 10-minute assessment or triage. This technique allows you to make subtle, but impactful changes to better serve the students. Take the first 10 minutes of your first meeting with a student to see where they are at with their career and major. By using the next few questions, even if the student is adamant about their major and career choice, these questions can get them thinking about their options.

  • 1. Explain the process:
    • What to expect in the session for all students:
  • 2. “What are we talking about today?”
    • Gives the student a sense of control and empowerment vs. “How can I help you?”.



Have you thought about any options?

Are you sure about your major or career? (Percent)

Have you done any career research?

Have you researched what you can do with your major?

Do you know how to do career research?

How did you come to this decision?

Encourage career exploration.

Have you done any internships/job shadow?

These quick questions can give you a lot of information that you can use to decide how you want to work with the student. Even if the student is set on their major choice, these questions help get the “wheels spinning” to encourage them to think beyond what they know. Students often come to counseling with preconceived notions about careers. They often only have an understanding of popular careers or careers their family members have. There are so many more careers out there than what they know that regardless if a student is decided or undecided, it is good for them to explore their options.

Integration Into General Counseling Appointments

Start with one technique at a time, but know that you have them all in your tool kit. Integrating career theory into your counseling session is easy and can take less than 10 minutes. Providing all students with access to career counseling interventions is even more crucial in a “Guided Pathways” world. All students need the knowledge and skills to understand how to make a career choice and how major and career are connected. The research shows that students who have a career choice and major are less likely to drop out and more likely to finish their college education.

Integrating these techniques will have a direct impact on your students by getting them career focused. There are no assessment or online website resources that can do what you do as a counselor. Counselors have a unique and amazing opportunity to directly impact and change lives on the ground level. We can provide knowledge in one short counseling session that a student didn’t get in all four years of high school.

If you start with anything, ask all students whether they are decided or undecided about their career interests, regardless of their major.

Career Intervention Plan (CIP)

  1. Explore: Encourage free exploration using career resources to expose students to careers they may not even know exist. This can come through conversations with friends and family members, and can even branch out into walking around a job fair to see what is out there.
  2. Learn About Yourself: Facilitate the process for allowing students to learn about their personality, skills, and interests as it relates to career options.
  3. Identify: Identify career fields of interest and possible jobs.
  4. Research: Investigate career potential, different type of jobs shadow and internships.
  5. Try It Before You Buy It: Informational interviews, job shadow, within the career field of interest. Understanding everything from pay to job availability.
  6. It’s Not Forever: Most Gen Z and Millennials will change jobs every 5-10 years. Not necessarily career fields, but they are less inclined than their Gen X and Baby Boomer predecessors to hold one job for their entire working career.

CIP Sample

  1. Name:__________________________
  2. Explore: Use “Explore Industry Sectors” to identify (3) jobs you have never heard of that look interesting and you would like to explore. You are not committing to these jobs, but opening your eyes to other options.
    1. _____________________________
    2. _____________________________
    3. _____________________________
  3. Identify: Select a career field/area of interest _______________________and (3) jobs that look interesting to you in that career field that you would like to explore.
    1. _____________________________
    2. _____________________________
    3. _____________________________
  4. Learn About Yourself: Complete the assessment and read through the results to learn more about your personality.
    1. Write down your four-letter type: _________________
    2. Meet with a Counselor to debrief your results and learn more about careers that you might like based on your personality type.
  5. Research: Use websites like Virtual Job Shadow and Road Trip Nation to research about the careers of interest.
    1. What is the job market like, where are the jobs?
    2. What is the salary range?
    3. What education is required?
    4. What experience is required?
    5. What is the average day for someone working in that job like?
  6. It’s Not Forever: While it is good to identify some jobs, you would like to work towards it is important to research several options in a career field and be open to where your career journey takes you. When identifying a job of interest, it is important to look at it as your first job or your starting place. Which job is looking like it might be a good standing place for you in your career field of interest and why?
    1. ____________________________(Job)
    2. Why:____________________________________________________________________

Career Acquisition Process

Resource Summary

NACE Article Covering Barriers for First Generation Students:

Non-Profit Resources (DACA/Undocumented):

College-Based Resources (DACA/Undocumented):
UC Berkeley:
Cabrillo College:
UC Davis:

Free Career Resources: (Easy to use and mobile-friendly versions)
CA Career Zone:
My Plan:
O*Net: (While O*Net is a great website with a lot of good content, it is overwhelming and confusing for most students)

Paid Career Resources:
Road Trip Nation
Virtual Job Shadow

MBTI Certification Training Online (CPP Approved):

Free Personality Assessment (MBTI Copycat):

Works Cited

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Titley, Robert W., and Titley, Bonnie S. (1980). Initial choice of college major: Are only the “undecided” undecided? Journal of College Student Personnel, 21, 293-298.

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