09/01/2008

How to Plan and Develop a Career Center (Second Edition)

Book review by Sarah Clark

How to Plan and Develop a Career Center, Second Edition, by Donald A. Schutt, Jr. New York, NY: Ferguson Publishing, 2007, 224 pages.

The second edition of How to Plan and Develop a Career Center, edited by Don A. Schutt, Jr., takes on an ambitious and far-reaching topic. It gives the reader an overview of managing a career center and all of the factors that must be considered when undertaking a process with so many issues and details to consider. The book is intended for both those who are starting to build a career center and those who wish to improve upon services already being offered and includes chapters focusing on career centers in educational and corporate settings in addition to chapters that focus on serving adults and diverse student populations. The book also provides very practical information on developing facilities, planning and evaluating programs, critical resources, personnel concerns, employer development, and the use of the Internet.

The pure breadth of this book makes it unique. It covers many of the important issues and topics that need to be addressed when developing a career center. The first chapter, Career Development and the Role of the Career Center, written by the editor, addresses the challenge of educating clients on the purpose of a career center. The author emphasizes that career centers are not just job placement centers, but focus on the whole person and their career development. The second chapter covers program planning, assessment, and evaluation. While this section offers good preliminary information on each subject, it cannot go beyond the surface of these dense topics. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on the concrete needs of a developing career center, including facilities, location, design and layout, equipment, technology, and critical resources including assessments, career and labor market information, and strategy-based references. Chapter 5 runs through the topic of personnel and management, emphasizing the need for an advisory board or group and the many different types of employees the center should retain. The next several chapters focus on career centers in different settings and serving different populations in your career center. However, as the second chapter demonstrated, these chapters just scratch the surface of these topics. The final chapter focuses on the future of career centers and offers helpful suggestions in the form of 10 signposts that will direct career centers in the future. They are all issues that career centers recognize and deal with today, but will nonetheless focus on even more in the future.

This second edition improves upon the first by adding chapters on corporate career centers and partnering with employers to offer career development and planning services. It also gives updated research and information in several other chapters. The new edition, like the first, adheres to a four-step process in developing a career center - planning, developing, implementing, and improving - that is logical and easy to follow. This process lays out a sensible order for the chapters so that each one tends to build on the previous chapter and enhances the four-step process. The book is easy to read and gives some practical examples and applications that can be implemented immediately or soon after a career center opens. Unfortunately, the reader is sure to realize that this information is just the tip of the iceberg and that there is much more to be sought out.

This book is best for the reader who is just starting to understand the development of a career center, realizing they will need many more resources in order to fully implement these tasks. Schutt lists many references in his bibliography that should be helpful for further research although the majority of the resources are 8-10 years old. As previously stated in this review, each chapter could be its own book. For one to fully grasp the entirety of developing something as comprehensive as a career center, many more details, concrete resources, and updated research are required. However, that being said, this book is a singular resource and a good starting point for those wanting a general overview with the intent of following through with more in-depth research.

Sarah Clark, M.S./Ed.S., is a Career Development Counselor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she works with math and science students. She has been with UNCW since June 2006 when she finished her M.S./Ed.S. in Counseling and Human Systems with a specialization in Career Counseling at Florida State University. She may be reached at 910-962-7026 or clarks@uncw.edu.


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