by Rachel Vilsack

A recent news story highlighted the low ratio of counselors to students in Minnesota schools. In fact, among states, Minnesota ranks near the bottom in the number of school guidance counselors. There are 771 students for every professional, according to the data. There are many reasons why this might be, including reduced budgets and program cuts.


School counselors provide a valuable service to students. In addition to helping students handle emotional and social problems, they also assist them in career and education choices. School counselors need to keep up-to-date on developments in education, college testing and admissions, financial aid, and job market trends.


Fortunately, there are many self-help online resources—both Minnesota-specific and national—to help students plan their careers. Here are some examples:

  •– Explore careers, research employers, and find educational opportunities on Minnesota’s career exploration website.
  • MyMnCareers– This site helps low-literacy job seekers and English language learners in Minnesota find career planning and work preparation information.
  • CareerOneStop– The national source for career and employment information, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • O*Net– A national website that helps you identify the key skills, knowledge, tools and technology needed for every occupation.
  • Occupation Outlook Handbook– Discover hundreds of occupational profiles, produced by the national Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Regardless of what website you use, there are some common steps you should take to plan a career:

  1. Assess yourself. Interest assessments help you find careers that fit you best based on the strengths of your skill set. It’s not a guarantee that the job you ultimately select will make you happy, but your job satisfaction will likely be higher in a career that makes use of your skills.
  2. Set goals. Whether your goal includes college, entering the job market, or designing a budget for your lifestyle, setting goals will help you stay on track.
  3. Research careers. It’s important to learn more about careers before making a decision, since some jobs in Minnesota will grow over the next 10 years, while others will shrink. You might also want to read more about what it’s like “on the job” or what the job pays.


Stay tuned! Later this week we’ll spotlight a new career exploration website that you’ll want to know about.