ERIC Identifier: ED446332
Publication Date: 2000-08-00
Author: Refvem, Joanna
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC.
Let's Go Surfing: Use of the Internet for Career Counseling in
Schools. ERIC/CASS Digest.
Career counseling in middle and high school should be tailored to the unique
characteristics of adolescents during those tumultuous years when they begin to
learn more about themselves. Part of the adolescent's search for identity is the
keen desire to explore interests, abilities, and new experiences, and to find
satisfaction. Many are facing for the first time a complex decision about the
reality of work in relation to their own lives. Sorting through information
useful for making informed decisions about one's life is crucial to the process.
However, information is exploding in every area of life. Adolescents and the
school professionals who help them have the arduous task of deciphering a
mountain of data during their pursuit of career goals and dreams. Useful and
user-friendly interactive computer programs exist that can guide students,
parents, and counselors through the vast and complicated world of career
Establishing rapport and building a relationship are key first steps for
school counselors working with adolescents and their career aspirations.
Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz (1999) proposed that career counselors adopt a
"planned happenstance" (p. 116) approach whereby the counselor helps clients
"generate, recognize, and incorporate" (p. 117) chance events into their career
development. Rather than waiting for life to happen to them, students should be
challenged to prepare for the unplanned so that action can be taken when the
unexpected happens. With its unlimited volume of data, the Internet is a place
where adolescents may experience the unexpected and, with help, can make use of
the information gathered.
Individuals and counselors often find that navigating career information can
be both complicated and time consuming. Though access to career information can
be obtained through traditional sources like the Dictionary of Occupational
Titles (go to www.onetcenter.org) or the Occupational Outlook Handbook (go to
http://stats.bls.gov/ocohome.htm), these are only the beginning of a thorough
career research, planning, and decision making process. CX-Online (Bridges,
Inc., 2000), in use throughout the United States and Canada, offers an extensive
and interactive framework allowing students, teachers, and counselors to connect
career information to interests and education. The temptation when logging onto
the Internet is to jump from site to site, seeking just the right information.
The beauty of this program is that once students have used some of the basic
tools, links are provided that are an appropriate match for their research. The
content of CX-Online is written in a style that appeals to adolescents, with new
information appearing daily. Articles not only cover basic education, salary,
and outlook but also contain interviews with people working in those careers
featured each day. Professionals (teachers) also can benefit from use of a
variety of lesson plans and activities for use in the classroom.
The National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC) together
with is state counterparts, the State Occupational Coordinating Committees
(SOICCs), accessible on the Internet, contribute a base of information and links
to other sites that further enhance career knowledge (go to www.noicc.gov). The
North Carolina SOICC, in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of
Public Instruction and the Commission on Workforce Preparedness/Job Ready, has
been in the process of integrating CX-Online into schools state-wide since 1997.
Below are suggestions of how to get started, how to use CX-Online daily, and how
to keep the program year-to-year are offered. The potential is ever growing and
ever changing, just like the Internet.
Any computer-based counseling program
implies the availability of computers, either individually in the counseling
office or classroom, or as part of a computer lab. Student and professional
access to these computers will influence effectiveness of CX-Online (or other
programs). Training is also an issue. In North Carolina, regional, semi-annual
training is provided for counselors. And then, too, user experience and
competence with computers as well as time constraints must also be evaluated.
Typically, staff members (teachers, administrators, and career specialists)
can be introduced to the essentials of CX-Online in about one hour. This
introduction would include a preview of the student resources as well as a
detailed explanation of the professional part of the program. One middle school
in North Carolina provided training during grade-level planning sessions.
Attendance was mandatory, with follow-up instruction available on an
Student Training (or introduction) also takes about one hour. Four research
tools (Daily News, Browse, Search, and Interest Inventory) can be discussed
during the first half-hour, with particular focus on the first three. The second
half-hour can focus on the interest inventory, which then provides links to
specific career descriptions, job opportunities, and interviews with
professionals, and even links to college sites that offer the required
education. These preliminary sessions typically generate great interest, and can
transition easily into more sessions in either the classroom or counseling
Inevitably, any new tool or resource
generates initial excitement, only to be rarely used or, worse, ignored later.
For the most part, CX-Online is hard to ignore, yet there are several ways the
school counselor can increase and maintain the program's visibility and use.
Posting the Daily News in the counseling office or teacher workroom/mailroom
not only maintains this visibility but also illustrates one of CX-Online's
greatest strengths: every day there is new information on the Internet, and
every day CX-Online grabs a piece for viewers to use. Providing teachers with
the Math or English 'problem of the day' for featured careers from the Daily
News is another effective practice. This can be accomplished through informal
discussions, or by placing copies in teacher mailboxes.
Both of these suggestions imply that the counselor is visiting the CX-Online
site very day, which can also lead to another use: individual counseling.
Building hope is very therapeutic. For example, a student in ISS (In-School
Suspension) could be brought into the counseling office and introduced to one or
more aspects of CX-Online. One middle school counselor found a dramatic change
of outlook when a student began to visualize his future rather than remaining
stuck in the present. Further sessions could become contingent on good behavior
(not as an excuse out of ISS!).
Without doubt, with a program tied to the Internet with the depth and breadth
of CX-Online, any counselor, student, or teacher would be challenged to utilize
all aspects of its aspects. The ever-changing potential of CX-Online must be
explored and promoted to ensure availability into the future at each school
KEEPING CX-ONLINE ON A YEARLY BASIS
As with any good
resource, renewal and maintenance must be examined. Summative reviews for
administrators that include goals, objectives, and accomplishments are crucial.
Will there be funding for renewal of the program? A lot will depend on
presentation of accurate, specific, tangible results. Students and teachers
could offer experiential reviews, with the counselor adding statistical support.
Also, a counselor could offer special orientation/overview sessions in a
computer lab for administrators before they make final budget decisions for the
following school year. The National Career Development Association (NCDA, 1999)
has developed guidelines for using the Internet. CX-Online meets or exceeds
several of these (delivery of information about occupations, and providing
on-line searches of occupational databases are just two). Additionally, NOICC
has developed career development competencies which are closely aligned with the
components of CX-Online (NOICC, 1988). Incorporating this documentation into
summative reports would also enhance program accountability.
Targeting parents as a group could also boost the longevity of the program in
a school or district. Offering the same review information either by mail or
during a PTA meeting could spark interest and support. Additionally, offering
workshops for parents similar to staff and student training would allow even
more exposure for the program.
In the end, the school counselor faces the
challenge of being the 'expert' who can facilitate the use of any
career-counseling program. Though a daunting task due to the vast nature of the
Internet and the breadth of CX-Online, few other programs hold such potential to
both streamline and ensure the delivery of effective career counseling for
students. Every day new information becomes available and, as Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz (1999) have discussed, being prepared for the unexpected
promotes individual development and career decision making. Mitchell et al. have
encouraged the notion of open-mindedness in their model, which fits well with a
program like CX-Online. Who knows what will be discovered tomorrow? The future
can become an adventure to look forward to instead of a decision-making time to
Herr & Cramer (1996) warn that "indiscriminate use of the computer may
not be appropriate" and that "individuals must be assisted through a variety of
techniques to use data in a personally meaningful manner" (p. 642). That said,
school counselors are in a significant position to help students access
information in a meaningful way. Shedding methods and procedures that are
quickly becoming outdated and utilizing the ever-changing sources of information
via the Internet depict the nature of the new millennium. Counselors will hear
few arguments from adolescents who are eager to explore, question, experiment,
and eventually establish themselves in the world.
Bridges, Inc. (2000). CX-Online. Available:
Herr, E. L., & Cramer, S. H. (1996). Career guidance through the
lifespan: Systematic approaches (fifth ed.). Boston: Scott, Foresman and
Mitchell, K. E., Levin, A. S., & Krumboltz, J. D. (1999). Planned
happenstance: Constructing unexpected career opportunities. Journal of
Counseling and Development, 77, 115-124.
National Career Development Association (1999). NCDA Guidelines for the use
of the Internet for provision of career information and planning services
(On-line). Available: http://ncda.org.
National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC). (1998)
National career development competencies (On-line). Available: