Using Career Convergence as a Teaching Tool in Counselor Education Programs

By Julia Y. Porter

Currently in the United States we are in an information revolution where technology and information services are replacing manufacturing as the major career opportunities. Technology experts tell us that every six months there are major advances in technology that eliminate some jobs. At the same time that jobs are being eliminated, other new jobs are being created. In this fast-paced work world, how do we provide learning experiences for students in counselor education programs to prepare them as career counselors to help clients?

One teaching tool that I have found to be effective involves using Career Convergence. Career Convergence, NCDA's web magazine, provides students with timely articles that present a realistic view of the world of career counseling. The articles are written by practicing career development professionals and provide valuable information about techniques and strategies that these professionals have found to be effective.

The Assignment

Fourteen graduate students enrolled in a career counseling class completed the following assignment:

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) web site has a variety of resources for career counselors. Go to the NCDA web site:


On the left side of the web page, click on the button for "Career
Convergence". Career Convergence is a professional magazine that
focuses on career counseling practice. The latest issue will come up on the screen. Select one of the articles from the latest issue or search the Career Convergence Archives [left side of screen] for an article on techniques and strategies for career counseling. For the article you select, type a position paper (double-spaced, maximum of two pages), including: 

  • approximately 1 page summary of the article and
  • 1 page explanation of how as a career counselor you would or would not use the information in the article.

Be sure to cite the article you select as a reference for your paper. E-mail your completed paper as a Word file.

The fourteen students who participated in this assignment chose nine different articles. Their selection was based on the clients they were working with at the time and their own counseling interests. Students at our campus may choose a school or community counseling emphasis. A list of articles students selected is found in Table 1.



Emphasis Area of Student Who Accessed Article

A Trans/Queer/Intersex Primer: Career Counseling Concerns



Assisting Undecided College-Bound Students

Owens & Bastanfar

Community (1)School (1)

Career Counseling Strategies for School Counselors: Addressing Needs and Barriers of At-Risk Elementary Students

Newgent, Lee, and Daniel

School (2)

Career Development Curriculum for First-generation Middle School Students


School (2)

Helping the Homeless



Mental Health and Vocational Disability: A Quick Guide to Mood Disorders



Rejection, Rejection, Rejection!


Community (1)School (1)

Responding 'In Place' to Katrina


School (2)

Using Motivational Interviewing in Career Counseling



Student Reaction

All students said they found the articles to be useful and were planning to use Career Convergence in the future as a resource for their counseling practice. They especially liked the practicality of the information and the writing style. Following are some of their comments:

"The information in this article was extremely helpful because as a counseling student, I sincerely believed that it was important for me to be at the actual disaster site in order to make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. However, I totally relate to what Miller stated about counselors doing what is needed to be done. There were many times that I have wanted to do my own thing, but last year when Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coastal area, was when I realized that I too could make a difference from my current area rather than going to the actual location. I wholeheartedly agree with Miller because I too made a tremendous impact here at home."

"While the information in the article seemed somewhat basic, I did find the section concerning the four types of undecided students to be informative. Personally, as a former undeclared student it was nice to have some support and understanding. I was always a little embarrassed because I could not make up my mind as to what I wanted to major in. This information will be helpful to give my students in the future. I can see how being able to diagnose an undeclared student as something other than "indecisive" could help their motivation, as well as their self-esteem."

"To me, career exploration and counselor feedback seemed somewhat obvious. However, the sections on modeling and support building were informative. When I was an undeclared student, job shadowing would have been extremely helpful. As far as the support building section goes, I found it interesting that counselors were encouraged to help their students set up back up plans. Telling students about possible alternatives could take some of the pressure off of them. Choosing a major can be stressful. Setting up a backup plan can take some of the permanence off of the decision."

"The program described in this article is applicable to the large Hispanic-populated county in which I live and wish to work... The time frame format and theory would stay the same in my program."

"As a career counselor working with undecided college or high school students, I would use all four of the interventions discussed in this article. Career exploration is particularly important. It is not uncommon for students to expect others to make important decisions for them."

"I agree with this article because as a career counselor I would educate my students that rejection is part of the "game" and that people begin at different places. I believe that comparing yourself to how quickly or how long it may have taken another person to find a job could cause frustration" I believe that a career counselor should educate the job seeker about the different barriers they may face such as: shyness/lack of confidence, and of course, the fear of rejection, lack of necessary skills for the job, procrastination, not knowing where to start, and negative thinking" This is a great article and I would definitely use this information."
"I have learned so much after reading this article. There is more to gender than just male and female... When someone comes to you with concerns about what names should be put on resumes, a counselor needs to be prepared to assist this person in finding a job and completing a professional resume."

"I especially like the aspect of family involvement. I think getting their parents integrated into the course of their kid's lives through helping them explore their past and see the effects of that history on their future is a great sharing and learning experience for the whole family. I think this would help parents to become better advocates for their children."

Benefits of Using Career Convergence as a Teaching Tool:

  • Timely Information: Articles in Career Convergence are current. Career Convergence is published monthly.
  • Accessibility:Career Convergence is available on-line from any Internet access point and access to articles is free.
  • Application to Practice: Career Convergence articles are written by practicing career development professionals about their work. Students see how professionals in the field address career counseling issues.
  • Opportunities to Publish: Students may submit articles for publication in Career Convergence.
  • Professional Identity: Students become familiar with the NCDA web site and the benefits of professional membership.



    Julia Y. Porter, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, NCSC, is an Associate Professor of Counselor Education at Mississippi State University-Meridian. She is the program coordinator at the MSU-M campus. She worked as a career counselor in a college setting for ten years before becoming a counselor educator. Part of her current job duties include working with graduate students to develop programs of study to meet their career goals. She can be reached at: jporter@meridian.msstate.edu


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