05/01/2009

NCDA Mentor Program Participation Leads to Creation of an Interactive DVD Program to Guide College Major Decisions

By Susan Posluszny

After eighteen years of employment as the director of a college career center, it was not without a great deal of soul searching, and a leap of faith, that I decided to leave the college setting and to take my part-time career counseling practice to full-time status.  While I had learned a thing or two over time about how to promote my practice, it didn't take me long to realize that my business efforts were scattered and that I could use support with development of a business vision and action plan.  As part of my search for support, I contacted Deneen Pennington (currently the Executive Director at NCDA) who, among other suggestions, referred me to the coordinator of the NCDA Mentoring Program.  After learning more about the Mentoring Program, I applied to become a mentee and, as luck would have it, was paired with fellow NCDA member, Martha Russell.  At the time (early 2006), Martha was serving as the President of NCDA.  She also had more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience including her work as a consultant through Russell Career Services.  To say that I felt blessed by this pairing is a major understatement! 

The Process Used for Developing a Vision and Action Plan

Martha and I worked together for a period of one year through monthly phone sessions.  To help me develop a vision for my practice, she led me through an activity that began with listing the following...

  • Populations of interest to me (Examples: adults, high school students, college students, graduate counseling students, career professionals, etc.)
  • Themes or topics of interest to me (Examples: choosing a college major, navigating midlife career transitions, subconscious elements of career development, personality type, skills assessment, etc.)
  • My preferred Method of Delivery (Examples: one on one career counseling, workshops, newsletter, authored products, etc.)

After brain storming for these lists was complete, Martha directed me to select and prioritize my top choices for each list and to draft an action plan that would integrate my favorites.   For example, combining an ‘adult' population, the topic of ‘skills assessment', and the delivery method of ‘training seminars', leads to the activity: ‘develop and lead skills assessment seminars for adults in career transition'.

As I worked through these steps, I eventually mapped out short and long term business goals that integrated my prioritized lists as well as potential sources of immediate and future income.  Martha told me to consider not only what excited me but also to weigh the investment of my time and energy relative to anticipated tangible and intangible rewards.  This sequence of activities was part process and part product, part pie in the sky and part reality check.  It opened my mind to possibilities and led me to a focused vision and concrete game plan for my practice.

An Unexpected Result...Creation of a Unique DVD

One example of an idea that came to me through these activities was to develop an interactive DVD program designed to support teens and young adults with choosing a college major.  The DVD would integrate career and needs assessments with key college major and career planning principles and it would be client centered engaging users in reflection, active participation, ‘outside the box' thinking, and a proactive plan of action.  After two years of pilot studies and product development, combined with cheerleading from Martha along the way, my idea is a reality.  I'm thrilled to say that my DVD Program, In Search of a College Major & Career Direction, is now available for sale to the general public.  In addition, it's also available, through purchase and web based site licensing, to organizations that support students with the college major selection process including high schools and colleges.

Give and Receive Through the NCDA Mentor Program

While the NCDA mentor program is designed to last for one year, Martha and I have stayed in touch and still connect from time to time for updates.  Along with getting to know a fellow colleague, I gained a friendship that will last a lifetime.

If you're an NCDA member, I urge you to learn more about the Mentoring Program through the NCDA website.  You can apply to become a mentee or a mentor (mentors are desperately needed at present).  I'm currently serving as a mentor through the program providing support related to my background in higher ed based career development.  This only takes up about one hour of my time per month.  Serving as a mentor is my way of giving back ...of showing my appreciation for all that Martha and my NCDA membership has done for me over the years.


Susan PoslusznySusan Posluszny is the founder of Options for Career & Life Planning LLC and the author of the DVD Program, In Search of a College Major & Career Direction.  Along with prior experience as the Director of the Career Center at Rivier College, Susan has worked as a school to careers consultant and an HR administrator.  Career professionals and counselors can watch a free on-line preview of Susan's DVD by registering at the following link: http://www.careeroptions4me.com/careerdemo/  Susan may be contacted through her website, www.careeroptions4me.com .

 


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