Skip to Content

The career exploration coach

Date: 
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
NIACC provides career exploration days to help youth discover their interests and potential.

NIACC provides career exploration days to help youth discover their interests and potential.

Iowa's school year is only a few weeks in, but folks at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) are already looking towards winter break. That’s when nearly 1,000 area 8th grade students are anticipated to arrive for an annual day of career exploration activities. Although it may seem at first like a daunting task to assess, support and provide insight into potential career matches for so many young teenagers, NIACC is ready. They have Iowa’s Career Coach to help them along the way.

Iowa’s Career Coach is a free online, interactive resource that assists individuals with identifying a career path based on personal interests and skill sets. As part of a collaborative effort between the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development and the 15 community colleges across the state, Iowa’s Career Coach provides a one-stop shop for students and adults alike who are looking for a career and education direction.

“It’s a great and easy-to-use resource for students as well as academic advisors,” said Paula Nissen, administrative consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. “It connects students with skill and interest assessments, required education and training resources and current job market information.”

Through NIACC's career discovery day, nearly 1,000 eighth graders use the assessment on Iowa's Career Coach to explore potential career pathways.

Through NIACC's career discovery day, nearly 1,000 eighth graders use the assessment on Iowa's Career Coach to explore potential career pathways.

Over the last year, an estimated 69,000 people have visited the career coach site where they can link directly with community colleges for further education and training needed for specific career paths. Students and adults can find detailed information on job openings, salary ranges and sample daily tasks on the site. Popular career searches have included jobs in mental health, agriculture, physical therapy, nursing, computer programming and skilled trades.

“There have been a variety of interests and users on the site, which is what we intended,” Nissen said. “Some people are looking at careers that require short-term certificate training programs. Others are looking into those that require an associate or bachelor’s degree. It’s a little bit of everything with interest in many different high demand occupations.”

For NIACC’s career discovery day, a typical 8th grader’s interests can vary and change, so the Iowa’s Career Coach resource has been a valuable tool for coordinating efforts and getting students excited.

“We help set up their individual profile, which I think gives them a sense of empowerment over their future,” said Anne Boyer, enrollment advisor at NIACC. “They have a chance to really see what their interests are instead of what perhaps their best friends or even parents think they should be. It gives real insight.”

Prior to their visit on campus, 8th grade students complete the 60-question interest inventory on the career coach site, and NIACC uses the results to personalize each student’s experience for their visit day. The information helps match students with business professionals and college faculty who can provide information and real-life experiences on their particular field.

“Students can see career opportunities that would be a good fit for them and what is available in their communities in north Iowa,” Boyer said.

With the success of Iowa’s Career Coach for their 8th grade career discovery day, NIACC is looking into expanding their use of the site.

“We are planning to incorporate the interest inventory when onboarding our incoming freshman,” Boyer said. “This will help academic advisors establish an efficient guided pathway and plan to follow.”

Iowa’s Career Coach will also be useful for NIACC’s addition of college and career transition counselors who assist high school seniors with additional supports for planning beyond graduation. The assessment can help provide a direction for the student’s post-graduation journey.

Iowa's Career Coach helps NIACC plan their eighth grade career discovery days.

Iowa's Career Coach helps NIACC plan their eighth grade career discovery days.

Additionally, NIACC may eventually utilize Iowa’s Career Coach to watch trends in career interests, which could help determine programming and marketing needs in the future.

“We are always looking to see how we can best serve the students in our area,” Boyer said. “Iowa’s Career Coach could help show what trends in interests are growing for students.”

The career coach site can be used by any prospective student looking for a career path, and individuals are encouraged to take advantage of the site’s resume-builder, military and veteran status search filters and other job resources.

“Iowa’s Career Coach gives a well-rounded overview of the different career options for students,” Nissen said. “Students can use that information to determine how to set up their career goals and their future.”

Visit Iowa’s Career Coach to start your free career assessment and connect to jobs, education and resources today.

Article Type: 

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 05, 2022 at 7:43am.