Career counseling overview

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What is career counseling?

Career counseling helps people:

  • Gain awareness and knowledge of self by assessing interests, abilities/ transferable skills, values, and personality as they relate to career choices
  • Explore and integrate gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, spirituality, culture, disabilities, and/or social/familial influences into career choices
  • Explore life styles, sense of meaning, and contributions to society
  • Learn decision-making styles and strategies applied to career decision making
  • Clarify and set realistic and achievable goals
  • Develop and implement an action plan related to a career path
  • Develop coping skills to manage anxiety, rejection, disappointment, grief, lack of confidence, stress, and/or depression associated with career choices.

Other career-related definitions:

Career, as defined by the National Career Development Association, is “the combination of activities performed at any given life stage in all roles of life, including the role of worker.”

Career development is a lifelong process of managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions in order to move toward a personally determined and evolving desired future.

Career planning consists of the stages involved in this process including self assessment, setting goals, and designing learning and action plans to achieve those goals.

Career management is a lifelong, self-monitored process of career planning that involves choosing and setting personal goals, and formulating strategies for achieving them.

What should I expect from career counseling?

Confidentiality: Our appointments and any records kept by our office are confidential. Confidentiality Statement

Confirmation and intake: Once you have scheduled an appointment, we will send you a confirmation email which includes a link to our online intake. Complete the intake to help your counselor prepare for your time together.

Appointment time: Your appointment is scheduled for 60 minutes. You will have time to ask questions.

Number of appointments: This will be up to you and your counselor to decide. As long as you are making progress on your career planning goals, your counselor will be happy to continue working with you.

Cost: There is no cost for our appointments. We do charge a small fee for assessments. Your counselor will discuss these options with you.

Sessions: Your counselor will use your intake responses to structure the appointment but will also discuss your expectations for the session and your overall career goals.

Counseling as a partnership: Your counselor will guide you through the career planning process as a partner. The career planning process does involve work on your part – counselors can’t do the work for you and don’t have the answers!

Could I benefit from career counseling?

Do any of these statements apply to you?

  • I am thinking about a job change and not sure where to begin
  • I am wondering about other career options and not sure what is out there
  • I am having challenges on the job and wonder what I can do about it
  • I am ready to advance my career but not sure how
  • I am unsure of what interests me, what skills I have, and how my values and personality play into work
  • I am in need of help setting goals and creating a plan
  • I am not sure what next steps to take in my work/career
  • I am having challenges working remotely and/or creating work/life boundaries
  • I am suffering from burnout
  • I am not sure how to talk with my supervisor about my needs (ie: exhaustion, having to do more with less, inequalities, uneasiness regarding return to campus, role changes, etc.)

Even if only one of these statements applies to you, career counseling can help!
Contact 608-263-6960 or info@dcs.wisc.edu to schedule an appointment.

Still not sure? Contact us and we can discuss your situation.

Additional questions about career counseling

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If I meet with a career counselor, will the information be connected to my employee record?

No. Information discussed in appointments and shared via the intake or other correspondence with your counselor will not appear in your employee record. Please see our Confidentiality Statement for additional details.

Do I need to complete the intake?

Yes. The intake provides basic information to your counselor so they can prepare for your appointment. You can find the intake link in your appointment confirmation email.

I am a returning client. Do I need to complete the intake again?

Yes. There is an option to complete the intake as a returning client and it is a shortened version of the full intake you completed before your initial appointment. If it has been 3 or more years since your last appointment, you will be directed to complete the full version of the intake.

What can I do to prepare for my career counseling appointment?

  • Complete the online intake at least one day before your appointment.
  • Locate any career or other assessment that you may want to share with your counselor. (optional)
  • Bring a current resume for reference. (optional)
  • Prepare a list of questions or topics you would like to discuss.

I would like to have my resume and cover letter reviewed. Do you provide this service?

Due to limited staff availability, we are unable to provide resume and cover letter review as a stand-alone service. If this is all you need at this time, we recommend utilizing the excellent staff with Madison Writing Assistance. They offer free one-on-one assistance with many forms of writing, including job search materials.

Can a career counselor attend our staff meeting and discuss career/work related issues?

Yes. Please fill out our presentation request form and a counselor will get back to you.

What is the difference between the employee career counseling service through ACSSS and other services such as the Employee Assitance Office and the Ombuds office?

Career counseling focuses on your career development, management, and any other work-related needs.  See our section, “What is career counseling?” for more details.

Employee assistance office (EAO) provides “assistance with life’s challenges and offers solutions for life transitions, physical or emotional health issues, and relationship challenges.”  Services include personal counseling, workplace consultation, and well-being coaching and training.

UW–Madison Ombuds “provide faculty and staff with a confidential place to collaboratively explore complaints, clarify issues, and consider options and resources to address their concerns. They are impartial and nonaligned, working to promote fairness in the workplace.”