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I will be posting to this site often. Please feel free to comment on what you read here and make suggestions about what you would like to see this site become by emailing us at richards706@charter.net. We plan to move to a more traditional site in the near future and at that time we will begin to offer our customized, online career development tools.
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Virginia and Randall Richards

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A New Direction in Career Planning

Today marks the beginning of a new direction in career planning. Several years ago, while both my wife and I were working on EdD degrees in Occupational studies at The University of Georgia, we put the finishing touches on an interest profile assessment as our doctoral research. It was not one work but rather two. During work on my Master's Degree in Instructional Technology, I had worked on the development of a interest profile assessment for adolescents paralleling the work of Dr. John Holland. Rather than names of occupations as was done by Holland, my interest profile assessment instrument uses pictures of easily recognizable activities. As a way to make us work even harder to complete the work, our major professor, Dr. Jay Rojewski, suggested that Virginia should write on the development of the interest profile assessment and I should do a study of the affect taking the assessment and receiving the resulting reports from the assessment had on the career development activities of a population of middle school 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. During our final defense, Dr John Dagley, a member of our doctoral committee and a faculty member of The University of Georgia Educational Psychology Department said, "You need to make this widely available because it is better than any instrument that is available today." I owe an apology to Dr. Dagley because we waited 10 years to make our instrument available to the public. As time seems to move at an ever increasing rate, we have become aware that the time has come when we must put our interest assessment out for use. At the time of our research we named the instrument the Richards Interest Profile Assessment or RIPA.

If you wish to fast forward to one of the research articles you may do so by selecting the desired article below:

Theory of Career Development http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/08/theories-of-career-development.html

Career Development Literature http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/07/career-development-literature.html

History and Theory Behind Interest Inventories http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/08/history-of-and-theory-behind-interest.html

Characteristics of Middle School Adolescence http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/08/characteristics-of-middle-school.html

Career Exploration Interventions http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/08/career-exploration-interventions.html

Theories of Interest http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/08/this-is-fifth-article-in-series-of.html

Theories of Career Development http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/08/theories-of-career-development.html

History of Interest Inventories http://ripaplanner.blogspot.com/2008/08/history-of-interest-inventories.html

Dr. John Holland's Work

Dr. Holland worked for many years defining the basic areas of interest that we all have and, in the process, devised a method for measuring interests of individuals in each of six interest areas which he initially called personality types. These areas of interest are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Holland's initial premise assumed that an individual could be characterized as being a single personality type. He later revised his theory to suggest that while one personality type does dominate, personality patterns provide better descriptions of individuals. For example, while a person's personality probably contains aspects of all six personality types (R, I, A, S, E, C), personality patterns, or subtypes, may be developed on the basis of the three prevalent types found within the individual's interest profile.

Holland further determined that people who are happily working in certain jobs have specific interest profiles. He then surmised that people would do well to determine their areas of interest, or their interest profile, so that they might then seek to enter a profession best suiting their interests. Thus, people will be happier in their jobs. Holland's work was expanded during work with Gottfredson and others. Holland's work was used by Kuder and also by Strong in the development of career assessment instruments. Holland's work has been used by the military and industry for years and, to this day, most interest assessments use some form of the Holland interest codes. One year before Virginia and I started work in the Department of Occupational Studies at The University of Georgia, Dr. Holland was a guest professor at UGA. I am so sorry that we missed him. However, we did get to study under and work with people who had worked along side Dr. Holland, and for that we are thankful.

In a series of articles to be posted soon, we will review the literature pertinent to the study of predominant career theories, history of interest inventories, conceptual additions applicable to the study that led to the development of the RIPA, a review of the literature that has focused on career indecision in adolescents, and educational interventions with additional focus placed on middle schools. This work will be more of an academic nature and will be of interest to those practicing career guidance. This work may provide a launching point for individuals desiring to further the research in the area of career development.

The Current Situation

Both Virginia and I are educators. We each worked in vocational education for years. I moved into administration several years before retirement, but Virginia has remained in vocational education. From our vantage point in vocational education, we had the opportunity to help many people work their way through the career development process. My hat is off to counselors in our high schools, but for the most part high school counselors have to spend most of their time being certain that students are getting into the right classes to complete their high school education. Their next priority is seeing that college bound students get all their paperwork completed at the correct time and sent to the proper location. Little time is left to be involved in directing students through the career development process. They are overworked in most cases and cannot spread themselves over all the jobs that are expected of them. So, what does that mean. Well, yes, you guessed it, college bound students are assisted in moving into college in their self chosen career of choice while non-college bound students are simply pointed toward graduation. They are left to find their way on their own.

The lack of in-depth guidance through the career development process causes great concern for the future of our students. Many leave high school not only with no idea of who they are and what occupation they may be suited for, but unfortunately they do not have the tools necessary to make the decision. Some people literally spend years searching for a job in which they can be successful and feel fulfilled.

The Direction of Our Current Work

We are in the process of developing a multifaceted Internet based career counseling program that will provide a clear path toward a fulfilling career for anyone wishing to take advantage of the program. Our goal is to make the basic components of this program available at no cost to clients. The components of the program will consist of the following:

  1. Informative, research based writings about the career development process written by Virginia and I and by guest writers who have a similar vision of wanting to assist individuals in the career development process.

  2. Development of a database for tracking client's career development through a clear and simple personalized road map for success.

  3. Make the RIPA (our interest profile assessment) available free of charge on the Internet.

  4. Integrate the individual's interest profile into his/her career development plan.

  5. Develop instructional units that will guide the individual through the process.

  6. Expand the online database to allow clients to input work experience, hobbies, goals, education and training, skills, and any other pertinent information.

  7. Develop an online resume generator that will allow the individual to easily generate a resume for use in obtaining a desired job.

  8. Develop a database of employers and available jobs with specific requirements for the jobs. This will allow clients to be matched with available jobs based on a search that compares the qualifications of all clients in the system with requirements and expectations for the various jobs. Clients will be able to search for jobs in their geographic area or any specific area of the country.

Time Line

At the time of this writing, work is being done to move the RIPA to the Internet. The standalone version works well and yields great results, but designing for the Internet is presenting a new set of challenges. Work is being done to link our database (presently running on SQL 2005) to the Internet. These are the big pieces at the present time. We hope to have these pieces completed by the end of 2008.

When these elements are running satisfactorily on the Internet, we will roll out our career development database component. This component will provide clients with a personal road map for their career development process and provide various suggestions for the completion of every step. As steps are completed, the client can check off the completion. Some portions of this component will be designed in conjunction with the basic database elements. We expect to complete work on this component by the end of the 1st quarter of 2009.

By the end of 2009, work is scheduled to be complete on the resume generator and the job search components. That will complete the project as we presently envision it, but, as with most major projects, there will be new ideas generated as a result of the presently planned work.

Hopefully this project will evolve and grow into a very useful tool for clients on the career development quest and will add yet another tool for counselors as they work with their clients.

So What Now?

We will continue to write on the career development process. Our writings will be research based but written in terms that will allow anyone of 7th grade or higher reading level to fully understand. The one exception to the writing level will be a series of articles concerning career development theory, history of interest inventories, conceptual additions applicable to the study of interest inventories, a review of the literature that has focused on career indecision in adolescents, and educational interventions with additional focus placed on middle schools. Career development is an individual activity that requires considerable guidance. The individual who works through the career development process will understand himself/herself more fully and will be prepared to make intelligent career decisions. Of great importance is the concept of arming individuals with this self knowledge so they might use it as many times as needed in the future as they move from one career path to another.

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