Pack these tools in your career-research kit

Students don’t have to go it alone as they explore occupational paths

An often-quoted Chinese proverb states that a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. And when students are looking at something so big and distant-seeming – an entire future – taking that first step can seem a bit daunting.

Fortunately, there are many tools available to make the journey not only manageable, but stimulating to navigate. Members of Douglas County Partners for Student Success already have gathered resources and offer programs designed to help county youth get the information they need to propel them along their career paths.

Many parents today can recall a less structured approach when they were attending elementary, middle and high school. Some of these adults say “it was just assumed” they’d attend college, or go straight from high school to a job, or somehow magically land in a career without any kind of strategy. And in some cases, especially in strong economies, that might have worked for them.

But today’s realities are different. No one is expected to decide at 15 or 18 or even 20 what occupation to select and stick with it for half a century. But we do know that preparation and planning are vital to taking hopes and expectations and parlaying them into a solid foundation for success.

Douglas Education Service District writes grants and manages the fiscal affairs of Career-Technical Education, which serves all districts and Umpqua Community College in Douglas County. CTE plugs students into training that helps them draw connections between school and career work. Along the way, they are introduced to a range of career options suiting a fast-paced technology and workforce, which helps them discover their interests and passions. Find out more HERE.

The web page includes links to various UCC programs that help launch students directly from education to employment in various fields. Among them are administrative office work, civil engineering and technology, culinary arts, early childhood education and welding. The links contain “maps” for each field with details on course requirements, number of credits, available degrees and certificates and career opportunities. Also described are additional career options following from related bachelor degrees.

Among statewide resources, here’s a link that is packed with useful, concrete information: Managed by the State of Oregon Employment Department, the site offers a 10-year forecast of employment projections for 11 occupational categories. Also available are occupational profiles, a job finder search engine, an employer finder, wage conversion calculator, business news tip sheet and a career explorer, which filters occupations that meet a student’s required characteristics.

Let’s say you choose “health care” in the occupational drop-down menu. From there, you’ll find that for a diagnostic medical sonographer, the job requires an associate degree, is listed at an annual salary of $84,809, and has 24 current openings statewide (a number that of course will fluctuate depending on the date).

The site also contains publications such as “Oregon Careers 2015,” a broad guide to career search information, and “Occupations in Demand 2014.”

These are just a few resources DCPSS can point out to to make that 1,000-mile journey a series of sure-footed steps. DCPSS will continue to add resources to help youth and families access resources to guide them towards solid career choices and “after high school” education options.  Keep watch for a growing set of resources and opportunities to build a bright future!