Never too early to think about a career |

Never too early to think about a career

Cindy Ramunno
EDU Career Class DT 10-26

GYPSUM ” Eagle Valley High School teacher Chad Sloniker is looking for a few good careers.

Sloniker teaches career planning, where students learn do research, go through interviews and take personality and aptitude tests to learn about different careers.

Students just finished studying resumes and interviews, where they were videotaped during mock job interviews. Students, like senior Will Britt, reported huge benefits from the interview process.

Britt said he already knew how to interview, but says he learned much more.

“I knew the basics, but I learned so much about sounding confident in my answers and how to avoid or turn around negative questions,” says Britt.

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This week, the students are studying communication skills and human relations in the work place.

Currently, 20 students are taking the class, which has a mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. This is Sloniker’s second year at the school, and he says one of his objectives is to build up the business program.

“My hope is to make this a junior/senior course only ” it has the most bang for the buck with them,” says Sloniker, who adds that although it’s never too early to start planning for a career, work-related interests can change during high school.

‘Realistic’ and ‘social’

For the class, students take various tests on their personalities, interests and aptitudes. Two tests they take are the MAPP, or Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential, and the Kersey Temperament Test.

There are also different tests offered for free on the Internet, but those can sometimes be overwhelming, Sloniker says.

“I encourage students to search for different tests in class, because it provides a safe environment for them to sort through the incredible amount of information on-line,” Sloniker says.

The older students in the class just completed the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude and Battery test, which tests a number of skills from math to English to electronics. The test is long, but most definitely helps students identify work-related interests and determine career fields or occupations.

Britt already knows he’ll be attending the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley to study education.

“I knew I wanted to be a teacher and coach, and this class is helping me find out the steps it’s going to take to get there,” says Britt, who scored a very high 62 on the armed services test.

The armed services test also showed Britt that his interests fall into the ‘realistic’ and ‘social’ categories, which fits right in with his chosen future profession.

“It’s another useful tool to try and narrow our career choices down using data as the driving force,” Sloniker says.

The Eagle County School District’s secondary curriculum includes a focus on business education, and career planning is a piece of that puzzle, Superintendent John Brendza says.

“The career planning course is another opportunity for students to start shaping their future,” says Brendza, adding that the district continues to add courses at its three high schools to help determine future career and education plans.

Costs and paybacks

Sloniker says his class also is about finding out what student don’t want in terms of a career. Research on potential careers also includes getting information on tasks performed, pay rates and future growth.

“I think many times people just make decisions based on how they feel,” Sloniker’s says. “This class tries to quantify or validate those feelings through fact gathering,”

It’s a proactive approach to developing a plan for the future because each student answers some tough questions about themselves through the process as they strive to find a career that best matches them, Sloniker’s says.

Making changes through the process and making career changes is also a top discussion in the class, and Sloniker tells students it’s OK if they change their minds, he says.

But he emphasizes that the process of gathering useful information does not change. “Being prepared and knowing the costs and paybacks is crucial to choosing a career,” he says.

“I think all of the kids are coming to better career conclusions,” Sloniker says. “It’s not so much about coming to a final decision, but determining the steps it takes to find a satisfying and fulfilling career.”

Vail, Colorado

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