My Career Story: A Useful Resource for High School Populations and Beyond

By Hande Sensoy-Briddick, William C. Briddick, Suzanne Savickas

Two decades into the 21st century considerable attention has been directed to college and career readiness. Reforms such as No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top challenged schools to better prepare students for the future. High school counselors are expected to work toward this goal. Over half of high school principals (55%) have indicated believing that preparation of students for postsecondary education was the top priority of counselors (Radford, Ifill, & Lew, 2015).

Online Career Exploration Programs

Various online career exploration programs have been widely used by school counselors. These programs provide opportunities for students to learn about themselves, various careers, as well as educational opportunities. The interactive nature of such programs makes career exploration an enjoyable process and it allows counselors to serve students in considerable numbers.

Despite attempts to increase students’ awareness on career related issues, it is discouraging to note that up to 50% of freshmen arrive college campuses “undecided” upon a major. An estimated 75% of students change their majors at least once before graduation (Gordon, 1995). One university study revealed that 80% of its freshmen reported uncertainty about their major (Capuzzi Simon, 2012). Given the amount of career exploration programming in schools at the present time, some might find this puzzling. A variety of explanations have been offered for this dilemma. Freedman (2013), for instance, argued that first year college students may not be developmentally prepared to make such a critical decision.

A More Personalized Approach

When high school students are directly asked about their difficulty in making decisions about their future careers, 55% of them reported not receiving the career counseling that they needed (Johnson, Rochkind, Ott, & Dupont, 2010). Students noted that a more personalized approach to career counseling would have been helpful. Previous studies echoed similar sentiments (Kenny, Blustein, Haase, Jackson, & Perry, 2006; Lapan, Gysbers, & Sun, 1997).

This lack of a more personalized approach has been discussed by other professionals. Laura Berman Fortgang, a life coach and career strategist provided a basic equation for our consideration (who + why= what) raising a significant point about career counseling in our schools (as cited in Fisher, 2016). To know which career is the best fit for someone (the what factor), we not only need to know about ourselves (the who factor), we also need to recognize our passion or mission in life (the why factor) (Fisher, 2016). Without the “why”, accurate decision making and future planning may remain a challenge.

Beyond Matching

Our current focus in schools of “who” and “what” reveals the matching approach (Parsons, 1909) which has remained with us for so long because it works and it is efficient. Given the nationwide average student-counselor ratio of 460:1 (Johnson, Rochkind, Ott, & Dupont, 2010) and the 250:1 ratio advocated by ASCA (ASCA, 2017) a more personalized approach to career counseling can be perceived as daunting task for counselors. However, alternative approaches are available for consideration.

My Career Story

One particular approach that goes beyond a matching model, taking into consideration students’ passion and what matters to them the most is the My Career Story (MCS) workbook. Rooted in Career Construction Theory (Savickas, 2013) it is designed to simulate the Career Construction Interview (Savickas, 2015) in a workbook format. MCS can be completed by a student individually or in a group setting. Organized in three parts: Telling My Story; Hearing My Story; and Enacting My Story, MCS is not meant to replace existing interventions. Rather, it compliments other career interventions used in schools. As its authors note, MCS seeks to add meaning to the emerging career stories of its users, adding clarity in terms of direction and purpose (Savickas & Hartung, 2012). MCS can be helpful in personalizing the search of the why in a student’s career future. MCS is free resource and may be downloaded at www.vocopher.com.



American School Counselor Association (2017). The school counselor and comprehensive school counseling Programs. Position Statements. Alexandria: Author.

Capuzzi Simon, C. (2012, November 2). Major Decisions. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/choosing-one-college-major-out-of-hundreds.html

Fisher, A. (2016). Why High School Counseling Steers Kids Off course. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2016/04/13/high-school-career-counseling

Freedman, L. (2013). The developmental disconnect in choosing a major: Why institutions should prohibit choice until second year. The Mentor. Retrieved from https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2013/06/disconnect-choosing-major/

Gordon, V. N. (1995). The undecided college student: An academic and career advising challenge (2nd. ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Johnson, J., Rochkind, J., Ott, A. N., & Dupont, S. (2010). Can I have a little advice here? How an overstretched high school guidance system is undermining students’ college aspirations. Public Agenda, San Francisco: CA.

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Savickas, M. L. (2013). The theory and practice of career construction. In S. Brown& R. Lent (Eds.), Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work. (2nd ed., pp. 147–183). New York, NY: John Wiley.

Savickas, M. L. (2015). Life Design counseling manual. Rootstown, OH: (n.p.).

Savickas, M. L., & Hartung, P. J. (2012). My career story: An autobiographical workbook for life-career success. Kent, OH. www.vocopher.com

Savickas, M. L., Nota, L., Rossier, J., Dauwalder, J., Duarte, M. E., Guichard, J., & van Vianen, A. M. (2009). Life Designing: A paradigm for career construction in the 21st century. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75(3), 239-250.



Hande BriddickHande Sensoy-Briddick is an Associate Professor of Counseling and Human Development at South Dakota State University. She coordinates the School Counseling Specialty. Her publications and professional presentations focuses on career & school counseling, and diversity issues. Recently she along with two other colleagues developed a well-received career curriculum prepared for elementary schools in Turkish. hande.briddick@sdstate.edu





William Chris Briddick​William C. Briddick is currently an Associate Professor of Counseling and Human Development teaching in the Counseling and Human Resource Development program at South Dakota State University. His publications have focused on career counseling, career assessment, and the history of counseling including career counseling.  He has been involved in ACA and NCDA. He is the founder of the Historical Issues in Counseling Network within ACA. chris.briddick@sdstate.edu



Sue SavickasSuzanne Savickas is a doctoral candidate in Counseling and Human Development Services at Kent State University.  She works as a licensed professional counselor at a private practice in Ohio.  In addition to working at the private practice, Suzanne is the Chief Executive Officer of the Career Construction Institute and a founding faculty of the Institute.  Her publications and professional presentations focus on the life design paradigm and career construction, as well as methods for providing career counseling for individuals with disabilities. sscareerconstructioninstitute@gmail.com



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