Thursday, October 11, 2012

Glenn Hellenga, career services director at Tri-County Technical College, standing, demonstrates Career Coach, a web-based data tool that helps to match students to careers, for Tyrone Blocker, a Computer Technology major.

Career Coach Is New Web-Based Data Tool That Helps to Match Students to Careers



(By Lisa Garrett)

PENDLETON --- Tri-County Technical College recently launched a new online tool that provides potential and current students, as well as the general public, with best-in-class, local data on employment opportunities, wages, educational programs and job postings for their career interests.

Career Coach, a web-based data tool, helps students to explore careers and to determine if they are a good match for their interests. "Through a simple keyword search, students can learn about the employment prospects of careers they want to research. This real-time information is customized to our tri-county area and includes detailed wage estimates, the credit and continuing education training that Tri-County offers, if employers are hiring, and up-to-date job postings with a given career," said Chris Marino, director of research, evaluation and planning. Career Coach can be accessed by visiting

New students, area high school students, persons changing careers, those returning to school and graduates, can use Career Coach. "This is the best localized data source available," said Marino.

"If you find a career that you like, enter the data or key terms and press return. The search interface works just like Google. It's easily accessible, localized and relevant to the area where we live. Within 10 seconds, you can get useful information," said Marino.

Persons can search job information between a five- and 100-mile radius of the Pendleton Campus. "This is beneficial because statistics show that 85 percent of our graduates stay in the area," he added.

Career Services Director Glenn Hellenga says he doesn't miss an opportunity to show the Career Coach website to students with career counseling and job placement questions. "They will know about it before they leave my office," he said.

Tyrone Blocker, of Anderson, a Computer Technology major, was sold on the site at first glance. "There are more than 1,000 jobs listed on the site. It puts the information in one place and is easier than any other program I've used. It's a great resource that doesn't lack a thing."

"Career Coach really is for everyone," said Hellenga. "New students who want to obtain information on different majors will benefit, as well as job changers who are looking to re-enter the workforce and need to acquire new skills. They can look at the careers in demand and learn what training is needed to pursue employment in those fields."

Graduates who are looking for employment will find it helpful because it shows how many employees there are in each occupation within a 100-mile radius, in addition to how many openings there are per year, said Hellenga. There also is a graphic representation of wages from the lowest 10 percent to the 90th percentile.

"Another interesting feature is it shows the ages of the folks who are working in occupations and how many are close to retirement. "In this tri-county area, that's a sizeable number," said Hellenga. "It's a consideration if someone wants to stay local. Career Coach gives individuals a sense of the demand for specific jobs."

Amanda Blanton, dean of Enrollment Management at Tri-County, plans to use Career Coach in reaching out to area high schools, including guidance counselors, career specialists, students, and parents.

"Our enrollment counselors are visiting the guidance offices and giving them an iPad with Career Coach loaded on the homepage," she said. "We are telling them about the tool and encouraging them to share it with students to plan next steps beyond high school. We also are sharing the tool with Career Specialists so they can work with students in the classroom."

Career Coach also will be promoted in marketing, outreach and recruiting efforts to area high schools. "We'll include it in our print and online materials, and we plan to share it with prospective students as we are working with them during the enrollment process," said Blanton.

"Because Career Coach is tied directly to our programs at Tri-County, students can see how what we offer connects to their future. It provides a wealth of information, which will help students develop a solid career plan," added Blanton.

In addition to supporting student success through career counseling and outreach strategies, Career Coach also is available to the public. By making this tool accessible to everyone, the College is supporting its mission to be a catalyst for the economic development of its service area.

Career Coach is funded by a five-year U.S. Department of Education Title III Strengthening institutions grant the College received in 2010. The grant focuses on learning and student success for first-time postsecondary students. Career Coach is part of a web-based comprehensive academic support network that connects students with resources for goal planning, advising and support services.



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