St. Augustine resident Sarah Powers is 19 years old and making decisions about her education and career path. Like many recent high school graduates, she assumed that her best career choice would be based on what she liked to do. And, like many young students, she was mistaken.
In Sarah’s case, interior design was her first choice. She enjoyed the idea of creating comfortable, beautiful and functional spaces, and she seemed to have a flair for color and style. Sarah and her parents explored the idea of enrollment in a private training institute in Jacksonville that would provide a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design.
According to O*NET, the Department of Labor’s online occupation classification and information system, interior designers earn a median wage of $47,600 annually. Projected growth in the occupation through 2020 is between 10 and 19 percent, primarily in commercial companies, designing office and commercial space. Nationwide, in 2010, about 57,000 interior designers were working in the U.S.
The cost of the interior design degree represented a significant investment for Sarah’s family (over $20,000 per year), so they decided to back up their research with assessments to determine the best career match for her. Their search led them to the Pelocity assessment. Pelocity is a tool backed by more than 50 years of industrial psychologists’ research that helps individuals pick those areas of study where they will excel both in school and in their choice of a career.
Assessment Technologies Group (ATG) offers the assessment to students and others interested in making informed decisions about career transitions. According to the group’s staff, two of the key factors in why students don’t complete college, “wrong” career selection and lack of vocational focus often are cited reasons for increased time to completion and lowered retention rate. A study of students confirms that 20 percent of withdrawals could be attributed to “wrong career choice” or “difficulties with course.” And another 15 percent of withdrawals are connected to students who “drifted” into the institution with little, if any, research into their course choices. The Pelocity staff provides a solution that costs less than $99 and can be taken in under an hour.
According to Dr. Les Krieger, Senior Consulting Psychologist at Assessment Technologies Group, the work style assessment is a measure used by organizations all over the globe to identify star performers and has a 25 year history of validation across many different occupations. The abilities, skills and knowledge questionnaires are derived from the extensively validated O*NET job description methodology. Pelocity inverts the O*NET job description questionnaires into assessments of the individual’s fit to the job.
Dr. Krieger explained how the results of the assessment are presented: “Pelocity uses proprietary models to recommend a rank-ordered list of best-fit occupations. With each recommended occupation, Pelocity provides access to relevant occupational and career path resources including O*NET, Career OneStop, and location-specific job banks. Pelocity also contains the Personal Passport, an ePortffolio of career information that can be shared with a career counselor or potential employer.”
Sarah’s Pelocity assessment results were a surprise. If interior design had been a strong match for her, her assessment results would have indicated a high preference for Artistic occupations. Instead, Artistic occupations came in a weak fourth in her occupational matching system. Enterprising careers, which include sales, marketing and business management, were Sarah’s primary match. As Sarah pondered the results and studied the occupational and job projection information provided within the Pelocity system, she realized that business held a strong attraction for her. She also has a strong aptitude for math, which is helpful in business studies.
Sarah chose to invest her Florida Bright Futures scholarship money into the local state college (St. Johns River State College) and begin a business degree with a concentration in marketing. Her scholarship will easily cover her tuition, and she will not go into debt for her education, which she would have had to do at the private art institute.
Sarah is attending St. Johns River State College (SJRSC) with her friend Dustin Nyberg. Dustin was not sure about a college major; he was drifting toward sports training simply because he had enjoyed a successful high school athletic career. After taking the Pelocity assessment, he was introduced to Realistic careers, which appealed to him for their hands-on and practical job opportunities. “I’d never heard of logistics as a career before I took the assessment,” Dustin said. “But the idea of solving problems, moving goods from one place to another and meeting deadlines, sounds like a pretty cool career.” He is also at SJCSC in a business track.
Most young students don’t understand the full range of careers that are available to them or why they might be successful at certain occupations. Career assessments like Pelocity can help students gain insight into career possibilities and help parents invest education money wisely.