Walla Walla Community College is one of the most successful community colleges in the nation, and as a recent Seattle Times profile of the school says, that success is based on a “focus on individualized advice and counseling, boosted by software tools.” One of those software tools is EMSI’s Career Coach, which is why we were excited to visit Walla Walla Community College’s main campus to introduce an improved interface we’ve developed for the web-based career exploration tool.
Over an extended period of user testing and usability studies, we’d found that while Career Coach offered students a variety of important information, they weren’t always sure how to get to that data. With that in mind, we expanded the Career Coach home page to present visitors with four possibilities. Visitors now see options to look up either a degree or a career that they may be pursuing or considering. If they haven’t gotten that far in their planning, they can also take a six-question personal assessment that will suggest a variety of career possibilities that may be a good fit. And, from the same page, they can look up what jobs are high-paying and growing in the region.
To inaugurate the new look, we introduced WWCC students to the new interface and let them explore the tool. The results were exciting. Right off the bat, students praised the design, with comments like, “I really like how it’s designed. It looks super easy to navigate; it’s super simple.” Kristi Wellington-Baker, WWCC’s Director of Retention, Career & Employment Services, was a fan as well. As she put it, “The new Career Coach interface has had a fantastic response from WWCC students. The improved usability and the addition of a brief career assessment have enhanced a tool that was known for making relevant and timely regional labor market information accessible to our students!”
Navigation was another big win. With previous versions, we’ve sometimes seen students be unsure how to start using Career Coach. The new home page, however, had the students we saw at Walla Walla finding their way with ease to the information they were looking for.
Another important thing we discovered by interacting with students was that they loved the new self-assessment test. With just six questions, the test doesn’t take too long, and student after student was impressed by how well the results described them. For students who were already in a program track, the potential careers that the test suggested frequently matched up with what the students were actually studying. And more than one student saw an interesting possibility they hadn’t considered.
Walla Walla Community College has already launched the newest version of Career Coach on its home page, and the many other clients using Career Coach will be seeing it soon as well. Based on the positive reactions we saw at WWCC, we expect it to make it even easier for colleges to connect students with real careers.
To learn more about Career Coach and the EMSI data it’s built on, contact Rob Sentz, or go here to read more. Also check out this case study and video on how Walla Walla Community College has incorporated EMSI’s data and services. Follow EMSI on Twitter @DesktopEcon.