Career Planning and Placement

Jack Horton, Staff Writer

Many individuals as well as institutions endeavor to find ways of generating a more specialized workforce specifically made and selected for an exact job. One of the ways this is done is through career placement psychological tests. Some career tests have been critiqued for generating different results than expected, or not providing a clear path for an individual to actually get their supposed dream job. Junior Annie Stander says “In my personal experience, I actually quite like the answer that I got for my Zellow career quiz…I got a tech feeder like a set designer, right? And I actually did quite like that idea.” However even if an individual finds a test which provides the results they expect then one could argue that is a self fulfilling prophecy. Senior Zachary Bi says, “I think [career tests] are useful because then you can get a certain area that you would be interested in. And also, they are useful because they can tell you what your skills are.” This cataloging of skills as well as passions are what career tests have opted for to both provide expected results and to also offer something more than just a self fulfilling prophecy.

However, there are some career tests which are infamous for using vague word terminology, overly complicated phrasing, or providing tons of results which can be overwhelming. Notable career tests have improved on these issues. Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness (DISC) as a worker personality test is effective due to its simple unique categorizing system. According to Truity, (DISC) is “a simple approach to categorizing a person’s personality and using it to predict workplace behavior and reactions to specific circumstances. Because it’s easy to understand, it[ is] a top assessment used in workplaces.”  Truity however supplies issues in regards to (DISC) including the idea that “Just because you like helping others doesn’t mean you like the blood and needles that come with healthcare careers.” Despite these issues DISC remains a pinnacle towards career placement so long as it is used to provide individuals information about their talents, passions, and careers which could align with that.

Schools have continued the trend seen in career tests with the use of majors that direct individuals down certain paths. Schools do this to offer individuals the ability to advertise themselves to companies as being in a specialized field. However, there are stories of someone entering a major they realize they dislike or not knowing what major to enter into. Some schools in response to these stories allow for undecided majors. Forbes critiques those who apply as undecided majors as those with “no plan, having entered college simply because they believe that’s the natural progression after high school.” This natural progression is taught by society as school is viewed as a beneficial tool towards cultural development. Sometimes, however, individuals face conflicting ideas in regards to trying to focus on a career or focus on academic knowledge. There is a conflict of interest according to Forbes as “Regardless of one’s argument towards the pursuit of knowledge above all, at the end of the day few people enter into higher education without the idea of improving their employability.” This conflict of interest comes from an individual’s internal desires to find work as well as an external need to pay off debt.  Forbes says the reason behind this is that “it costs the average student at an in-state, four-year public university $9,139 per year in tuition alone.” Some schools claim to offer undecided majors so that individuals can take general generic classes to find a passion in topics previously unknown. Forbes says that “most GECs correlate with subjects that students have already been taking for the past 12 years of schooling, and are unlikely to spur a revolutionary passion previously unknown.” However, sophomore Connor Lampman disagrees with the idea of undecided majors being completely useless as “if you are not 100 percent sure, then having an undecided major can be helpful if you do not know which [major] you are going to be.” Lampman also said undecided majors are helpful as “you could explore if you do not necessarily feel the passion.”

Of course, while many argue college is meant to specialize individuals, there is also a dispute over whether specialization in high school is an important feature. Many schools claim to value a well rounded individual instead of someone who focuses on one field to the exclusion of others. Ivywise says that this view of well rounded students may be more complex than it first appears because colleges “have orchestras, dance troupes, soccer teams, physics labs, Spanish departments, etc. to fill, and ‘pointy’ students contribute their passion and talents in specific ways.” In other words colleges want students who have defined interests they excel in. Ivywise also says that “doing it all risks diluting time and energy and becoming a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none.’” However, a counter to Ivywise’s concept is that high school is a period of time to experiment with different interests and if you are able to do many things well then colleges would prefer that to someone who can just do one thing well. Bi says, “I think that you do not really need to consider [specialization] before college, but you definitely need to have a specialty because if you are…very similar to everyone else, then you will end up not being special in a way, and you need to be special to get a high-paying job. Because innately, jobs that are paid more are the ones that are more special.”

Overall specialization remains a prime method to get a higher paying job but it comes with a risk and a cost. The risk is that if a field is overvalued or filled up with other workers then one might not get the job they specialized in. Additionally, the risk is that one may not actually like what they specialized into. The cost is that one loses out on exploring many passions rather choosing to zone in on only one of their passions. Despite these reasons, some level of specialization is recommended, as college costs a lot of money and being completely undecided without purpose can leave a hole in one’s bank account and not much to show for it. This does not make undecided majors inherently bad so long as the individual still has a drive to find what they are interested in and is willing to reflect on their choices.