By Neree Aron-Sando
If “data” are components that make up knowledge, and if knowledge is power, then Montgomery County Community College has put a powerful tool into the hands of, well, anyone who is looking for a job or planning a career.
Montgomery County Community College launched Career Coach, a free online tool that enables students and community members to explore career and industry information by visiting the college’s website and clicking on the Career Coach image on the lower right corner.
According to Celeste Schwartz, vice president of Information Technology and College Services, Career Coach is a web app that was developed by Economic Modeling Specialists. Two versions of the application are available: Career Coach for Workforce Boards and Career Coach for Colleges.
“As a community college, it’s important that we not only prepare students for careers in their selected fields, but that we also help them find meaningful employment,” Schwartz said in an email interview.
With a specific outcome in mind, students are better equipped to set tangible career goals and can then work with an academic advisor to develop realistic pathways to reach those goals, according to a press release.
But it’s not just for students. The tool is available for use to anyone with Internet access—for free.
“The college is providing Career Coach as a resource for the entire community,” Schwartz said. “The ‘career wizard’ is useful for individuals at all stages of their careers. For example, high school students can use it to explore different industries as they prepare to select their majors, while professionals can use it to explore career change or advancement opportunities.”
One of the benefits of Career Coach is its potential to attract adult learners to MCCC in pursuit of that career change or those advancement opportunities.
“Adult learners who are looking to change careers can explore various industries before they make a decision or return to school,” Schwartz said. “It enables them to realistically evaluate their current careers, as well. As users explore career opportunities on Career Coach, those careers are linked back to information on MCCC’s programs and courses on the college’s website. For example, if someone searches for careers in Human Services, they can click a link and be directed to the college’s Web page that contains information about our Human Services program.”
By searching on specific keywords, individuals can learn about the employment trends, income potential, and the education and training required for specific types of jobs.
Career Coach is customized to the MCCC’s geographic region, so real-time information about jobs available within 50 miles of the Blue Bell and Pottstown campuses is available. Users are also directed to credit and noncredit programs and courses at the college that will prepare them for the job they select.
“The tool has a variety of potential users, including middle and high school students (and their guidance counselors) who are investigating career and major options for the first time, college students who are trying to select or change their majors, adults who are considering a change in career, and community residents who are unemployed or who are looking for new jobs,” Schwartz said.
While she couldn’t provide specific details of success stories, the preliminary buzz on Career Choice is good.
“We have received positive student feedback,” Schwartz said. “The tool helps them explore available jobs in the area, but it also helps them to explore certain industries before selecting or changing majors.”
Why give such a valuable service away for free, to people who aren’t even students?
“Building community partnerships is an integral part of the college’s mission,” Schwartz said. “We view the college as an educational and cultural resource for the community and region.”
For additional information about how the product is used at community colleges,
visit EMSI’s website.