CSU’s Psychological Services Center provides personalized career advice

Bryan Dik, CCAC supervisor and professor of counseling psychologyIf you’re struggling to find a career you like, the Psychological Services Center at Colorado State University has some unique services that might help you find your dream job. The center’s Career Counseling and Assessment Clinic (CCAC) helps people find a career they enjoy by identifying personality traits that are relevant to a job, said Bryan Dik, CCAC supervisor and professor of counseling psychology.

“By the time a client gets to the end of the process, usually there is a great deal more confidence and clarity,” Dik said.

The clinic’s services provide a more comprehensive assessment of one’s “work personality” than those offered to students at CSU’s Career Center. They also help a wide range of clients, including community members who are unemployed or those simply looking for a change, Dik said. The cost for members of the community is on a sliding scale, and CSU employees and their families receive a substantial discount through CSU’s Commitment to Campus initiative. After going through the counseling process, many clients feel inspired to start on a path toward a new career, while others may find that their current career is already a good fit.

“The services are designed to help people develop a clearer sense of direction,” Dik said.

Vocational vexation

The CCAC’s process includes a variety of psychologically based online and in-person assessments, followed by four one-on-one meetings with a trained counselor. The counselors, CSU Ph.D. students in counseling psychology, use their training to help clients interpret the results of their assessments. Areas of investigation include the person’s interests, personality, values and abilities as they relate to a career.

The counselors also help clients identify what kind of culture they prefer in a workplace. For example, they might prefer the culture of a small startup company over that of a well-established corporation, Dik said. “If you’re a brewer, you’re going to have a very different experience if you’re working at Zwei Brewing versus Budweiser,” he said.

Counselors at CCAC also draw insights from clients’ dream jobs. For example, if a client wants to be a National Geographic photographer, the counselor might explore themes of that job, such as creativity, adventure, and being outdoors, then evaluate those themes in light of the client’s assessment results. After that, they can look at additional career options that may fulfill the different themes, but that may be more accessible. The need for creativity might be met by working as a graphic designer or marketer, while working at a ski resort or national park might satisfy the need for adventure or being outdoors, Dik said.

The process culminates in a final session to help clients form a plan for pursuing a new career, and provides them with a detailed report that summarizes the assessment results and their implications. Although the CCAC doesn’t help place clients directly in specific jobs, it does help clients understand “different aspects of themselves that are relevant to the career choice,” Dik said.

The perfect job

How do you know when you’ve found the perfect career? People who feel like they are using their gifts in ways that make the world better usually experience the deepest levels of satisfaction, Dik said. Often, such people develop a habit of seeking new ways to improve their work or to have a bigger impact.

“They’re not necessarily motivated to do this because they are unhappy, but because they know what it’s like to find meaning in their work, and they want to find even more,” he said.