What do you want to DO instead of what do you want to be?


I have over 30 years of experience with employment and training, first for a non-profit and now for a Technical College. I still have ah-ha moments. Last night I was listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio on the way home. He was passionately stressing the importance of knowing what you want to do, what type of work you want to do BEFORE finding the right college/the right training. Now today I find an awesome article written by Hannah Morgan (Career Sherpa)(I subscribe). The link is below. What a beautiful story with some powerful meaning. Besides that, it again stresses the importance of aligning your achievements to a specific job opening (what it is you want to DO)when you are writing your resume.

PS: Remember to make a list of your talents/gifts when determining what you want to DO.

Enjoy the following article by Hannah Morgan.



Experts share their thoughts on finding your path



In order to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in the job seeking and the career world, I follow several writers on LinkedIn, and today this GREAT article showed up in my in-box.  Ed Herzog interviewed some experts that he found and asked them this question, “What is your best advice for someone who is searching for their own unique and authentic path in life, one that connects who they are with what matters most to them?”

The following link will lead you to the responses of 21 experts! Whoever you are, wherever you are at in life, you are bound to benefit from reading this!

I have found my dream job and I am not doing a work search, but I still feel a need to think about my own unique and authentic path in life.  I am not done planning to make a difference. Does that part in any of us ever end?

I hope to make some time to reflect on what these experts have to tell us some time this weekend and I thought you might want to do the same.  Pay attention to what the author suggests you do for action steps at the end of the article.  Have a GREAT weekend!


Informational Interviews – What are they and how do I go about it?


What is an informational Interview? An informational interview is a meeting that you have set up (phone or in person), with the purpose of learning about a specific industry. “You will conduct your informational interview with someone who works in the world (industry) that you want to work in next. The person you interview will have industry-specific knowledge that you will need to know to focus your efforts.” You will have questions prepared that help you decide if this is indeed the industry you want to work in. Your questions might help you decide to get a college degree in a certain area to help you prepare for the work world, or the answers to your questions may help you see clearly how you can get to where you want to go.

When you call to arrange for this meeting you will ask for 20 minutes of the persons time (appeals to the individual since it is less than a half hour that you are asking for). Check in with the person you are meeting with at the 20 minute mark and ask permission to continue. This shows respect for the persons time. Often an informational interview will last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, because generally people like to talk about their work.

To start out the interview, thank the person by name for meeting with you and then introduce yourself and give them an idea of what your focus is and the purpose of the meeting, i.e. “I have done some career exploration and I have narrowed my choices down. I need to know more about this industry that you work in, so that I can make decisions about my future.”

Here are some questions you might ask:
Can you give me an idea of what is going on in the industry right now?
How did you get your start in this industry?
What skill sets are important for someone looking to enter this industry?
What kind of person succeeds in this industry?
Do you have any advice for me as I continue my research?
Can you connect me with other people who might help?
Is it ok to stay in touch via email?
Thank the person for his/her time and promise to keep in touch.

A word of warning. You never want to ask this person for a job…that is not your purpose here. For one thing, usually this person does not have the power to hire you. This person is willing to help you by providing you with information, but this person is not likely to be in a position where they can hire you. An informational interview is just what it says, an interview that provides you with information.

You will bring a notebook or paper with which to write notes on. In the back of that you can have a resume just in case you are asked for one. Do not offer your resume. You are carrying it along just in case the person asks you for a copy. Even then, you must make it clear that you are not trying to hit on them for a job, but that you are there to gain knowledge. These meetings sometimes lead to something, sometimes not. Be prepared for anything from a 20 minute discussion to a three hour meeting that includes a plant/facility tour!

When I am working with a student who has done some career exploration and has narrowed down his/her choices to 3-5 careers, I often recommend the informational interview. Hey, it worked for my son.

Source: The Human Search Engine, by Chris Czarnik and Christopher Jossart

Is “Do What You Love” Bad Career Advice?



Since the 1970’s, we have been hearing, “Follow your passion!” or “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Author, Cal Newport has put a whole new spin on the career/passion belief that we have been bombarded with for so many years.

In his book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” Cal recommends that we ask ourselves, “What can I offer the world?” He advises that we “get very good at a skill” which creates what he calls, “career capital.” Career Capital = rare and valuable skills that are offered to show that you are “so good they can’t ignore you.”

We are to choose a program or a major that we will enjoy studying, one that we can get so interested in that we lose all track of time. Then we develop what we have learned and we add experiences to that, and we continue to do what we do very well until we are indeed, “so good they can’t ignore us!” As we develop our skills we create the “passion” for what we do, and that is where the passion comes in.

Not only does his argument for changing the way we think about this make perfect sense, he also gives us steps, (and the back up for those steps), that could help us be successful in our career and/or help us start a business if that is our choice. His book also guides you though the importance of “serious study” and “deliberate practice,” and how those contribute to success.

I am always amazed at how much we can change our thinking by having new information. Reading Cal Newport’s book and then the following two articles have changed how I think about following my passion.




How to Get a Job that Pays Better than Minimum Wage


There are so many ways to acquire a good education and earn a living wage.

You can decide to be a full time student and work part time.

You can decide to work full time and attend college part time (I did this, taking one class at a time until I earned two different degrees).

You can attend a technical college (like Western Technical College here in La Crosse) and earn a certificate, a diploma, or an associates degree.

You can start out at a technical college and then transfer to a 4 year college (many four year colleges are now accepting technical school credits…saving you thousands of dollars!).

You can decide that you want to be trained on the job and check out what it takes to go through an apprenticeship program and become a skilled journey worker.

You can decide to enlist in the military service and have them train you. Make sure you know what you are signing up for. Read the fine print in the contract and ask questions.

And finally, you can train on the job, continuously applying for employment as you gain experience. If you love doing a job search and you are constantly looking for ways to grow and be promoted – this could work.

All of the above, are ways to acquire a skill set. Once we have a skill set; once we can say that we are knowledgeable about _______; it is at that point that we are marketable to an employer who is willing to pay us good money in order to help their company make money.

So, if you want to make a living wage and you want to have an education, but do not have a career goal yet, then visit your closest technical college and ask for their career services department. We have career assessments and trained career counselors that can help you make a career choice. When you have a career choice you have a goal. When you have a goal, then you are motivated to do what you have to do in order to reach your goal.

Some words of advice (in no particular order):

Don’t let anything stop you. If you find yourself making excuses for not getting started, realize that you are choosing to live on minimum wage.

Anyone can learn.  Anyone can improve themselves. Believe in yourself.

Make sure the time is right for you – Don’t rush into something this important. If you are planning to attend college in the fall, then you need to apply for financial aid in February-May of that year right after you (or you parents) have filed their income tax return for the year. (if you are reading this and wanted to start this fall, there is nothing wrong with starting out with one class…take a career development class….that kind of class helps you make a career choice so that you can set your goals).

Many people do not understand financial aid.  Applying for FAFSA (Federal Student Aid) is easier than doing your own income tax return! Go to www.fafsa.gov in order to walk through the process. You need to apply for each academic year that you attend college. One application allows you to see if you qualify for grants, loans, and even work study programs. And you can still apply for scholarships at your college that you have chosen. Keep asking until someone tells you where the folks are that can show you how to find scholarships. Every college has someone.

Remember that people love to help and every college is full of people who believe in that college and it’s success rate. Ask Questions! Get where you need to go by continuously asking questions.

Learn time management. If you can learn to manage your time and prioritize you WILL be successful. Every college has time management classes or workshops or maybe they offer a “college success” course that you could take in order to learn time management.

Attend every class and pay attention to the syllabus. In college every instructor provides a syllabus. The syllabus tells you what you are going to need to get done in order to pass the class.

Do not let the syllabus overwhelm you. Remember that you have all semester to get it all done, but you must work on each class every week so that you do not get behind. Colleges recommend that you study (study and do homework) three hours for every hour you spend in class. In my experience, I did need to do this for some classes and for others I was able to do what I needed to do in less time.  I always scheduled my study time on my time management calendar, then if I did get done sooner with what I had to do, I would work ahead (that is the joy of a syllabus)…..then when life caused problems, I was less stressed about catching up.

Hopefully this helped you look at the big picture a bit? I can be reached at 608-785-9257 if you want to talk to someone about becoming a college student. 🙂

Find Your Path – Time to Reflect – Why this Blog?



It has been a year now since I started “Find your Path.”  Time to reflect on what we have accomplished and what our goals are for the future.

Why did we start this blog in the first place?  Our original goal was to create a place where Western Technical College students could learn more about Career Services at Western and how to get the help you need to both decide on a career path and find employment once you have completed a college program.

Since then we have evolved. During the last year, when I was promoting our blog in classrooms, I have begun to share the fact that when we are working on a career goal (any of us) we are in fact training our minds to learn the “lingo” of the industry that we are immersing ourselves in.

Think about that for a moment.  As we learn, we discover things that the general population are not aware of.

I will never forget the summer that my son-in-law shared what it takes to produce soda pop.  He worked for a summer in a production facility where they mixed the product and packaged it. Since I am not involved in this daily as a part of my job, I am having trouble describing it, even for the purposes of this blog!  Yet he knew the terms, he could speak the language of soda pop producing….because he had worked it all summer.

So this blog has evolved. Our goal for the next year is to continue to help our students learn the “lingo” or language of their new career….so that they can demonstrate their knowledge in an interview and can then talk the talk once they start the job. This knowledge not only helps you find the words you need for your resume, it helps you sell yourself during the interview!

I tell our students, “Following this blog helps you weed through all the articles that you do not have time for. If you follow my blog, you will weekly get the best article or information for career and job seeking information…by the time you graduate from your college program, you will be knowledgeable about how to conduct your job search….just read an article for 5 minutes once per week…while you are attending here at Western Technical College and you will be ready by the time you graduate.”

And of course anyone else that is interested is WELCOME!

Doing an “effective” work search


Be Strategic in Your Job Search[1]

In all my years as a work search expert, I have never heard one person say, “I love job seeking!” We all know why. Doing a job search requires us to step into unfamiliar territory, to stick our necks out, to risk rejection.

I encourage you to realize that you step into unfamiliar territory, stick your neck out and risk rejection pratically every day when you are on the job. Anything we put our heart and soul into requires some amount of risk. We simply become comfortable in our jobs after the first three to six months of training. But if you really think about it, don’t you stick your neck out and risk rejection every time you take on some new project at work? It becomes necessary to stick our necks out in order to make positive things happen for ourselves.

If taking on that kind of thinking doesn’t work for you, how about programming your brain (your brain is your personal computer) to welcome each “no” because it brings you closer to “yes, we would like to offer you this job.” This is a method of looking at the odds. If you put a lot of time and effort into your work search, the odds that you will find employment will be much greater.

In my 30+ years of experience in work search, I can guarantee you that if you want a job, you will get a job. It is simply a matter of time and the more time and effort you put in, the quicker your results as long as you are doing an “effective” job search. That means spending the right amount of time on the right activities. Some spend too much time filling out lengthy applications on-line. Some spend too much time just talking to people. Some spend all kinds of time and money sending out resumes blindly to companies that they would like to work for.

To do an effective job search, you need to know yourself, know what kind of job you want, maintain a focus and use all job search methods, putting as much time into each one as it deserves.

Richard Bolles the author of the famous book, “What Color Is Your Parachute?” (updated yearly) tells us the following about job seeking effectiveness:

Looking on the internet – This method works on average 4% of the time (pick up the book, he explains why)
Posting or mailing your resume – 7% of the time
Answering local newspaper ads – 5-24%
Going to private employment agencies or search firms – 5-28%
Answering ads in trade journals appropriate to your field – 7%
Job Clubs – 10%
Go to local employment office – 14%
Going to places that pick up workers – 22%
Asking for job leads (networking with people you know) – 33%
Knocking on the door (small employers work best) – 47%
Using the Yellow Pages – 65%
Using the Parachute Approach – and that means faithfully following his suggestions – 86%

Reading “What Color Is Your Parachute?” and following Mr. Bolles advice equals getting to know yourself (he puts you through several excercises), helping you discover what kind of job you want, and helps you maintain a focus and know how much time to spend at each job seeking method.

I would say that one needs to spend a bit of time in each of the above methods to have a well rounded job search.

Source: What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles (2015 edition).