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Navigating your career path

Date: 
Friday, July 16, 2021

Sometimes we need a helpful point in the right direction when exploring new and unfamiliar territories. And for many Iowans, a potential new career path can be yet another journey into the unknown -- one that also benefits from some navigation. Fortunately, Iowa’s Career Coach is available to help guide students and adults with their exploration into career and academic planning.

Featured by Future Ready Iowa and developed through a collaborative project by the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development and community colleges from across the state, Iowa’s Career Coach is an online, interactive resource that can help people find a career they love and discover what education or training they will need to achieve it. Easy-to-use assessments are available to match individuals to careers that are based on their skill strengths and personal interests.

“It really is an innovative program, and the partnership we have formed with the colleges, Iowa Workforce Development and the vendor, Emsi, has been extremely valuable,” said Paula Nissen, lead education consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. “Prior to the online career coach, a student would have to visit a minimum of 10 other sites to get the same information. The online career coach can quickly help people identify careers they could excel in and the nearby training available.”

Users of Iowa’s Career Coach can also find details on median job salaries, sample daily tasks, relevant skills and even job postings that they can apply for directly with employers. The online career coach can also inform on what education and training is required for typical jobs in this area, and it links them to the institutions in Iowa that can assist them in achieving these requirements.

The career coach site provides ease of use and detailed information on education and potential careers, which is a useful tool for the state’s 15 community colleges. At Iowa Central Community College, Iowa’s Career Coach is introduced to all of their students and incorporated into their guided pathway, whether they are completing a certificate program, entering into an associate degree program or looking to transfer to a four-year institution.

“All students take the assessment on the career coach site,” said Melissa Vorrie, career navigator at Iowa Central Community College. “It’s helpful for students who have no idea what career path they may want to pursue. From the assessment, we can talk about their personality traits, job openings in a certain career field, potential earnings and what next steps they can take.”

Vorrie said feedback from students on the career coach site has been positive thus far.

“Overall, people really enjoy it and the information they receive,” she said. “It talks about schooling and potential salaries in different parts of the state. If you want to move from Fort Dodge to Des Moines, you can compare the wages you can make in each area as well as actual job openings.”

Along with these useful career assessments, enhanced features are also available for users of Iowa’s Career Coach. Military veterans have access to specific career search information that can assist with finding civilian careers, and all individuals have the opportunity to build a new resume through the site.

“I think the resume tool is a standout piece,” said Michael Witt, division administrator at Iowa Workforce Development. “Once they create it, they can upload it into their IowaWORKS.gov account or expand on it. It helps link into what we’re already doing to help with career exploration and training.”

Since Iowa’s Career Coach is user-friendly and online, Iowans can access the assessment and links to educational resources at anytime, anywhere.

“Having a tool that anyone in Iowa can use, no matter where they live, is beneficial,” Witt said. “It gives Iowans easy access to career information and next steps, which is really powerful.”

As a part of Future Ready Iowa, the online career coach helps promote the state’s goal of having 70 percent of Iowans with education and training beyond high school by 2025. Iowa’s Career Coach is a valuable tool for individuals looking for a new career path and, so far, it has seen good traffic. In the last six months alone, there have been over 2,600 views on the site from across the state. Careers in health care, accounting, agriculture, business, welding and computer science are popular searches.

“With the valuable labor market information and career resources available, Iowa’s Career Coach is good for high school students who may be beginning to explore their future or for adults who may be interested in a new direction,” Nissen said. “It gives them the information to make a more informed decision about their next steps toward a future career.”

Iowa’s Career Coach is live and ready to help students and adults. Individuals looking for more direction in their career paths are encouraged to visit the site for a free career assessment and information on Iowa’s job market.

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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on September 25, 2021 at 7:07pm.