College and Career Planning Season

By: Marti Benjamin, MBA

Certified Career Management Coach | Professional Certified Coach

Certified Professional Résumé Writer

For high school and college students, spring is more than a countdown to summer vacation; it’s time for them (and their parents) to think about their future education and career options.

High school freshmen and sophomores need to determine what classes they’ll take in high school to develop an attractive college application, juniors and seniors need to solidify their selection of a college major. College students need to plan for their work-life after graduation. That’s a lot of responsibility and pressure for young people and their supportive family, who, in spite of their great intentions, don’t usually have a clear picture of the student’s strengths and talents.

21st Century Career Preparation

Career preparation has changed dramatically over the past decade. Today’s graduate will have fewer employment opportunities over the next 10 years, according to the US Department of Labor. As technology creates new occupations, it eliminates others. Making informed college and occupation choices is critical in this unstable economy.

Careers professionals recognize that today’s high school and college graduate is likely to change careers at least a couple times between their first job and their retirement. Preparing for this new world of work demands a different process, one that refines the search criteria and streamlines the career direction choice.

A good point to begin this process is to determine what the student does well and enjoys doing. Strong performance and interest are signs of an individual’s personal strength. I believe that the best way to measure those strengths objectively is with a well-designed assessment, such as The Gallup Press’ Strengths Finder® 2.0. The Strengths Finder® reports on the individual’s top talents, their natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving.

With an understanding of personal talents, the next step is to identify occupations aligned with those strengths. Again, an objective assessment is useful for this step. Some of the most common assessments are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Strong Interest Inventory, Keirsey Temperament Sorter and the Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential (MAPP).

Using the Data

Objective assessments provide data on talents, motivations, interests and preferences. For some students that’s enough to confirm their hunches about career direction and they’ll proceed confidently to choose a major or an occupation. For others, more information will be useful in sorting through the thousands of career possibilities available.

When I’m coaching a young person, I ask them to describe in detail what they want their work-life to look like, considering the following criteria:

  • How much money do you want to earn when you’re five years into your chosen career field?
  • What’s important to you about where you live and work? Specific location? Recreational or lifestyle options?
  • If you have to choose between working on a team and working independently, what would you prefer?
  • Describe the type of people you want to interact with on a daily basis. What do they value? What are their interests?
  • What type of work environment do you want—indoors and climate controlled, outdoors, on your feet much of the day, sitting most of the time, physical activity, and mental activity, etc.
  • How much are you willing to travel as part of your job?
  •  What do you want to accomplish in your career? That is, besides earning a living, what’s important to you about how you spend 40 or more hours a week for 52 weeks a year?

Making Sense of the Options

The responses to these questions help determine which of the nearly ten thousand occupations in the US labor market might fit well and which should be eliminated from consideration. That’s where career coaching can help.

Special Offer—Starting March 20, 2013

To help students and their family make sense of the college and career options available, I’m offering a discount on the Jump Start Career Planning Package. The package includes two assessments (as described above) and two one-hour coaching sessions. I’ll provide an analysis of strengths and preferences and a list of occupational titles to consider, based on the student’s talents.

Normally, $490.00 for this package, the next 10 students to register—either high school or college—will receive a discounted rate of just $439.00.

To be one of the 10 students receiving a discount, send an email to with “Spring 2013 Offer” in the subject line, and a name and phone number where you can be reached.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her career and business coaching practice. While enjoying the best possible job in the world for herself, she guides her clients to find work that suits them well. Her systems have led students and professionals from fed-up and frustrated to fulfilled in their work-life.,



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