Career Development


Career Counseling Helps UW Employees Thrive
As dozens of UW staff members have now discovered, Professional & Organizational Development’s career counseling service can help you uncover your unique strengths, be more competitive in the job market, and chart a new path for your current or desired career. Although there is a charge for this service, those who have received career counseling through POD’s Susan Templeton can attest to its value.

Two UW employees who benefitted from career counseling in 2010 are Kathy Hobson and Carmen Cook. The two were motivated to pursue career counseling for very different reasons—Kathy needed to find a new job and Carmen hoped to develop a career plan—and both were thrilled with what they gained through their one-on-one sessions with Susan.

When her department was being reorganized last year, Kathy began to feel the sense of job insecurity familiar to so many these days and knew it was time to explore other options. She’d heard about POD’s career counseling service through word of mouth, and since she’d been with her department for nearly 25 years, they readily agreed to pay for three sessions.

Kathy hoped to stay at the UW and in the health sciences field, and she also wanted to continue working with students. Susan helped Kathy tweak her résumé and also her approach. “I had to start changing my mindset and looking around more,” Kathy explains. “I started applying to all kinds of different things.”

With Kathy’s résumé and job search approach retooled, Susan then helped Kathy practice for the inevitable interviews. “I hadn’t been on an interview for 23 years,” says Kathy. “I was doing some things right; I was going onto the websites and researching information about departments before going on interviews. But I wasn’t comfortable in interviews, so Susan and I spent an hour on interview practice.”

Kathy believes that the interview session with Susan was invaluable. “She asked some incredible questions—and sure enough, some were the same as the interviewers had for me.” Susan also gave Kathy pointers on “what not to say” and how to phrase things in ways that highlighted her strengths and put things in the most positive light possible.

Before seeing Susan, Kathy was applying for jobs but wasn’t getting many interviews; after two sessions with Susan (as it turned out, she didn’t need all three sessions), she received eight interview requests in one week. And in December Kathy received an “early Christmas present”—she started a new job at the UW with Seattle Quality of Life. “I love the job,” Kathy says, “and the people are wonderful. It’s totally different from what I was doing and just so exciting. I’m learning so much!”

Kathy believes that without Susan’s help she might currently be unemployed. “I didn’t have the skills to market myself because I’d been out of the job market for so long,” Kathy explains. “Susan’s great at what she does, and I’m a great example of it working.”

For Carmen Cook, the situation was different; she didn’t need a job so much as a plan. Carmen keeps busy as a curriculum manager at The Information School, but last summer she began wondering how to gain greater job satisfaction and ensure long-term career growth, even in a troubled economy. She chose to work with a career counselor because “when it comes to career planning, you can make a lot of mistakes if you try to do it yourself. You need to see a specialist, especially in this day and age with the economy the way it is.”

Although Carmen was thinking about her career when she signed up for her first session with Susan, the process took an unexpected—and inspiring—direction. She and Susan had three sessions together and, based on Susan’s advice, Carmen also took a number of assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory. Through her work with Susan, Carmen gained new insights about herself and about finding fulfillment in her life.

“I had some misconceptions about the kind of person I was,” Carmen admits. “The testing and the discussions with Susan kind of planted a seed—I realized I was more this way than that.” Susan also helped Carmen realize that her job doesn’t have to be her sole source of satisfaction. “I’m more creative and expressive, for instance, than I realized, so now I’m looking for new ways to fulfill that in my personal life.”

Since seeing Susan, Carmen feels energized, and she’s been exploring new creative outlets—including participating in the UW Women’s Action Commission 2011 production of the “Vagina Monologues.” And now that she’s had several months to digest what she learned from her first three career counseling sessions, Carmen is considering scheduling additional appointments with Susan to work on a long-term plan for career growth.

“Susan is a really remarkable person. What was really empowering was her interpretation of the assessments and the resources she gave me. She gives a lot to think about, some really in-depth analysis,” believes Carmen. “Also, I’m the kind of person who needs to talk things out, so having a counselor is a really good tool for me.”

Susan has a robust set of career development tools with which to help UW employees, including a number of assessments and inventories, handouts, in-person practice activities, and other resources. Susan also brings more than 20 years’ experience as a career counselor and holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University with a focus on cross-cultural human development.

"What I do as a career counselor depends on the client. There's no single approach that works for everyone because everyone is in a different place in their career and has unique needs," Susan explains. "Consequently, my first task is to assess a potential client's current situation and what they hope to gain from career counseling. Then, we develop a customized plan to meet their needs."

POD is self-sustaining, so we must charge fees for programs and services that are part of our recharge center; however, we work hard to keep our rates low and charge only enough to cover our direct and administrative expenses. The charge for career counseling is $80 per one-hour session if paid with a UW budget number (with supervisor approval) or $92.48 if paid with cash, check, or credit card (due to a mandatory institutional overhead fee). There is an additional charge for some assessments. Learn more about POD's career counseling service.