WFU Department of Counseling: Career Counseling with Dr. Mark Scholl – Ep. 3

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Audio Transcription:

Bob Nations: Welcome to Wake Forest University’s department of counseling’s podcast. I’m Dr. Bob Nations and on this podcast today, there are three faculty members participating in the podcast.

Shannon Warden: I’m Dr. Shannon Warden and we also have with us –

Mark Scholl: Dr. Mark Scholl.

Shannon Warden: All right.

Bob Nations: We’ll be talking with Mark today about career counseling with college students. That’s our topic. And Mark, I understand before you were a college professor, you were a career counselor at UNC-Wilmington. How did you first become interested in career counseling?

Mark Scholl: That’s a good question. I was originally interested in clinical psychology. And I was taking some electives in the counseling department, this was at Appalachian State University. And I heard there was a course in career counseling, but it didn’t fit with my program of my plan of study for my master’s degree in clinical psych and I was just envious of those students because it sounded like such a practical course. Ended up switching to college counseling master’s degree at UNC-Greensboro and it was just a standard core curriculum course and I was really excited. I ended up doing multiple internships and a graduate assistanceship in career services.

Shannon Warden: That’s cool, you were so interested in it that you continued to pursue it, even when you switched over to UNC-Greensboro. That’s how much a part of you that career counseling was.

Mark Scholl: Yeah, I just really loved it because it was so important and practical for students and I could see it as being very empowering to help students develop these career entry skills and self-awareness of their strengths and values. It was great, yeah.

Shannon Warden: And Mark In know that you are the editor, I can’t remember, Journal of College Counseling, is that right? Am I saying that right?

Mark Scholl: I’m not the editor, I’m one of four editors.

Shannon Warden: One of four, that’s still pretty high.

Bob Nations: I’m still impressed.

Shannon Warden: I have so enjoyed getting to know you on the faculty at Wake Forest department of counseling and I’m enjoying here, now, just realizing even more the depth of your passion for career counseling. So, this is a person who, in your master’s program at one university began feeling that, pursued it as you transitioned over to another university. And I’m hearing there in your words the heart for the student all along. What do students need to advance in their career interests? So, that was in you. I’m just enjoying that, that you have sort of passion. It’s really very student centered.

Mark Scholl: Yeah, it was really interesting because in all of my clinical psych courses, we would have a lab component where our clients would be volunteer students. And this was really exciting and enjoyable. And then I go out into the field and I’d work with non-students and it wasn’t exciting and as enjoyable. It took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t enjoying the actual work in community counseling centers because the clients weren’t college students.

Shannon Warden: So, all the more you’re recognizing what your calling is in some of your population of interest.

Mark Scholl: Exactly, yeah.

Shannon Warden: That’s wonderful.

Bob Nations: And Mark, when we talk about career counseling, what’s distinct about career counseling in comparison to other counseling models? What do you provide as one of the services to students if they come in for career counseling? What would they receive as a result of career counseling?

Mark Scholl: I think of it as being akin to strength based counseling and wellness and helping individuals to self-actualize. Just another facet of the students self-actualization. Sometimes students come in and they’re having difficulty with the decision-making process because there’s this pressure to choose a major. So, helping students to understand what goes into selecting a major and guide them through that process.

And sometimes, it’s letting them know that they don’t have to choose – that there’s not this one perfect major out there that they have to figure out. That it’s okay to find something they’re excited about and go for it. And then later, they might study something else in graduate school that’s different. It’s okay to choose something initially and then decide later in your career that you’re more passionate about another subject matter.

Shannon Warden: That’s good. Well, and it goes back to the depth of that calling that you feel. And that takes time to realize that. Sometimes it even takes stops and starts right? As you said you got out into the community and I can connect to that as well. I wanted to work with families and children, but I didn’t wanna be a school counselor. I wanted to be a clinical mental health counselor. And so it does take some stops and starts and some further soul searching of sorts for us to finally land on this is what I’m supposed to do, this is what I wanna do. And then so, lemme make sure I’m tracking, we can mark you did your master’s at UNC-G or finished your master’s there or did you finish your master’s at Appalachian?
Mark Scholl: I finished it at UNC-Greensboro.

Shannon Warden: And then I know you did your doctoral studies there. And then you went out to UNC-Wilmington –

Mark Scholl: Yes.

Shannon Warden: – and were a career counselor there.

Mark Scholl: That’s right, yeah.

Shannon Warden: Wow. I’m hoping, Bob, as students are listening to this, either current or future, that they’re hearing one, just about some of the different faculty members and some of our different interests and training. I hope they’re also hearing, I can do that. This is Dr. Scholl talking about career counseling. And I can do that in the community, maybe I wouldn’t wanna do it in the community, or I can do it in a college. I know there’s some employment assistance and other types of context that someone might do career counseling in. But I’m hoping that students are appreciating that there’s a lot of variety, a lot of opportunity for them with a master’s in either clinical mental health counseling or in school counseling. And Bob, of course, we talk a lot in our podcast with faculty and other guests about the clinical mental health counseling and the school counseling online master’s degree that we offer. So Dr. Scholl, I know you’re heavily involved in all that as well. I’m calling him Dr. Scholl, I slipped into a student mode there.

Bob Nations: You did, you have.

Shannon Warden: Mark.

Mark Scholl: Mark.

Shannon Warden: But yeah, so I’m excited. I just enjoy hearing each of us talk about and express those passions that we have, so I’m hopeful students pick up on that passion as well. Talk some about, Mark, just your experiences there at UNC-Wilmington and how that then maybe served as a launch pad for you further now since you’ve spent some years, since you’ve been in that role, you now teach career counseling. Isn’t that full circle?

Mark Scholl: Mm-hm, mm-hm.

Shannon Warden: There you were thinking, wow, this class is really cool. I wish I could take that class. Okay, I’m taking this class as part of the core curriculum. Advance the clock some years, now I’m teaching it. Talk to us about that some, that just full circle that you’ve gone there.

Mark Scholl: Okay, yeah so some of the things I did t UNC-Wilmington included individual career counseling, which is very conversational and I really enjoyed that a lot. I like that face to face interaction and I still think the importance of the core conditions in counseling, having empathy and positive regard and self-disclosure transparency, an important part of establishing a good relationship in career counseling as much as it is in mental health counseling. And I actually think of career counseling as a sub-set of mental health counseling. Not that they’re two-separate entities.

There was something called career express that we had and I really liked career express and it was when we would go out into the classrooms and we would present on some sort of topic, like resume writing or interviewing skills. And this is kind of what I relate to being a classroom teacher, teaching career counseling was this career express experience where I would go to an anthropology class or I would go to a nursing class and I would teach on assessment with the students who were studying to be registered nurses, for example.

And so I found out that I really enjoyed that, doing these lectures and demonstrations in front of a group. So, I could see that emerging, that discovery that wow, being a college professor would be a great thing too. I could do this same kind of thing as a college professor. And my first article that I ever published was on an educational game where students competed for one job. All the students in the class would compete for one job, but they would all be randomly assigned sociological barriers that are sometimes the cause for employers to discount applicants. Like, for example, lower socioeconomic status or gender. You’re the wrong gender applying for a traditionally male field. And so the students got to understand what it was like to be in a job interview and to experience that discrimination randomly assigned to them. They didn’t have a choice.

Shannon Warden: I love that. Talk about integration of a concept, right? You’re building in cultural and socioeconomics, gender right into – to just help them really see the practical application of career counseling. And for those folks, nurses, right? Or I might have miss stepped there, there article. So, I’m thinking, wow this is fascinating. We can, as professionals in a counseling field, we can be in a college or in a community mental health setting, we can be in a school setting, many other settings. And then there’s also a very natural teaching component as well. There you are career counseling at UNC-Wilmington, but very naturally in your job description folding in teaching. And then that just furthered the fire for counselor education.

Mark Scholl: Yeah, and I really enjoyed it when I would do an interviewing skills workshop and I would put myself on the line by being the interviewee and letting a student be the interviewer and they would be really tough. They would be tough on me.

Shannon Warden: Look what you were training them to do Mark.

Bob Nations: That’s right, that’s right.

Shannon Warden: You know you said – when we were talking about a counselor education and I know some of the students don’t come to the classroom necessarily interested in career counseling or they don’t see that they are integrated career counseling and clinical mental health counseling or school counseling. And so it’s the activities like that, practical application that hopefully helps them see the integration, the practical application of mental health training into the career field. I’m hoping they see that, but I know you’re bound to encounter that where some students just don’t get it coming in. How do you reach that student who maybe doesn’t quite see the integration possibilities of career counseling and clinical mental health counseling or school counseling?

Mark Scholl: Yeah, well I like the philosophy of a career theorist named John Krumbolt who said we have all of these techniques and tools at our disposal as counselors, as personal counselors. Why not apply them to career counseling? Why can’t a person who has a real stressful interview coming up use a mindfulness technique to prepare for an upcoming interview?

So, they start to connect the dots and say oh okay, so we can use behavioral technique, cognitive behavioral techniques, even constructivist approaches in helping people in career counseling.
Shannon Warden: That’s great. That way the student’s not just thinking, I just wanna be career counselor. I just want to be right? They’re really recognizing through the career coursework here and through your vision for that that there is the integration and that you, through our training program here for both the campus and the online master’s counseling programs that those are gonna be – the core part of the training is career counseling and that there is that expectation for the integration of the two, clinical mental health or school counseling, along with career counseling.

Mark Scholl: Mm-hm, absolutely.

Shannon Warden: I know you’re sold on it. And it might take a little salesmanship with a couple of students, but I imagine most of ‘em get it I have to say.

Mark Scholl: Yeah, I hope so too.

Shannon Warden: All right, well I know Bob Mark was talking there about – a little bit around theoretical orientation. Mark, do you wanna say a little bit more about that, about what some of the theories or models that you find practical in helping students?

Mark Scholl: Well, a model that I find really helpful is known as triangulation and it’s the idea that you help a student gain self-awareness of their skills, their values and their interests. And each of those facets forms a triangle. So, if you have a perspective occupation that you’re considering, if it falls within – it’s kind of like a vin diagram where the area that all three intersect. If your career that you’re considering is inconsistent with your values, for example, it’s probably not one you want to pursue. And the same with your interests. And values, of the three, your values are the ones that are most stable and enduring. Whereas you can work on developing your skills and you can discover new interests. Your values are pretty solid across the lifespan research has shown. So, if it’s not consistent with your values, it’s time to consider another occupational option.

Shannon Warden: Right. And that likely the exploration of values then becomes a big part of what a career counselor would do with a client.

Mark Scholl: Absolutely.

Shannon Warden: We’re not necessarily gonna be the trainers of the interest or the skill, but how can we maybe access – well, the knowledge of all three, the triangulation model you’re talking about. That would be part of the work a career counselor would maybe do that. But then also maybe some exploration of the values.

Mark Scholl: Exactly.

Shannon Warden: Okay, Mark or Bob?

Bob Nations: Yes.

Shannon Warden: You know I’m kind of a natural – I never was a cheerleader per say, but I’m a cheerleader in general of people’s passion and certainly for counseling students and I know you all are too. I thinking about career counseling, and my cheerleading sales kind of comes in on this, I’m thinking, you know that is one of the core curriculum areas that kgrip requires of kgrip accredited programs. And so that’s how much investment our profession has in and puts into career counseling. So, Mark, long before you were feeling that passion, there were people before you saying, hey this is who we are as counselors. Career is a very important part of what we do as a profession. I think that’s probably even – wasn’t that Frank Parsons back in the early 1900s? Am I remember my –

Bob Nations: I think so.

Shannon Warden: – history correctly?

Bob Nations: You’re good.

Mark Scholl: I think his landmark was called Choosing a Vocation.

Bob Nations: Yeah.

Shannon Warden: Right. So, still very relevant and I think his students are either currently or in the future looking at our online or campus NA counseling programs. That’s one of the things, Mark, they were talking about. It’s kind of both levels here right? They’re looking into who am I as a professional? What is it that I’m seeing in my career? What are my values? And then there are also, hopefully on that other level, thinking how can I help somebody else? How can I help another person who is asking themselves the same questions? I’ve loved that personally about counseling –

Bob Nations: Yes.

Shannon Warden: – that there’s a very much strong personal component to that that we can’t teach these things without really feeling it at a deep level ourselves. ‘Cause it could be the training. We go and do our master’s and our doctoral studies, but there’s still gotta be that deep value and I know that you have that for career.

Mark Scholl: Yeah, I mean while I was a graduate assistant helping people with their career decision making, I was going through the same process, a parallel process. And so when there were mock interviews and I was helping students with mock interviews, I was also asking colleagues and supervisors to schedule me for a mock interview and could we do this and could you just call me on the phone while I’m at another job, call me on the phone for a telephone interview so I could rehearse the experience of interviewing on the phone, which is very different from face to face. And in some ways, more challenging. So, I did some mock interviews on the telephone too.

Shannon Warden: That was you asking for that, hey could you call me?

Mark Scholl: Yeah, yeah. Call me up and ask me these 12 questions in any order or just ask me any 10 of these or add some of your own and they would – yeah.

Shannon Warden: To get that practice in.

Mark Scholl: Yeah.

Shannon Warden: And then to get their feedback too.

Mark Scholl: Yeah, yeah.

Shannon Warden: And careerists are rich like that. There’s the phone interview and there’s maybe the face to face. Then there’s gonna be a second follow up face to face. And then let’s just change up the context and think you’re already maybe a mid-career person, mid-life career person and you’re thinking, wow I don’t know that this suits my values anymore or maybe there’s more that I wanna do there. And I know that you and other career counselors are seeing that in the field is increasing later, there are a number of mid-life career changes. I don’t know a set number on that, but I know somebody told me one time you’re gonna change careers about nine times in your life.

Bob Nations: I think it’s even increasing now with the young ones coming out.

Shannon Warden: Wow, nine times.

Bob Nations: Yeah.

Mark Scholl: Yeah.

Shannon Warden: So, whatever the number is, if it’s nine or whatever it is –

Mark Scholl: That’s the one I’ve heard.

Shannon Warden: You’ve heard that one?

Mark Scholl: Could be more.

Shannon Warden: Yeah, so all the more right? And plus it’s what we do for so many hours during the work day. Even if we have the great flexibility of working in one place versus the other, working at home, working at Panera Bread or working at your desk job, whatever the case may be. Career is a big part of what we do as people in general. So, all the more reason that we have to really invest in it at a high level in our training programs.

Mark Scholl: Yeah, absolutely and the students that we’re working with in the master’s program are very close to graduation typically. So, that transition from student to worker is just around the corner. So, it will be short-sided of them not to see the significance of the course in career counseling.

Shannon Warden: And I know what you’re saying there in their plan of study the career counseling course tends to fall toward the back half of that plan of study. So, for the students who are listening or either currently or for future – you know you’re probably hearing both a passion that we have as a department for, in this case career counseling and for your training in general. But we’re also just continuing ourselves right to not only say hay we’re passionate, but really to invest in other people. And Mark we’re gonna talk to you in another podcast and this is gonna be a teaser here of sorts Bob –

Bob Nations: Yes.

Shannon Warden: – for Mark’s fantastic ex-offenders program that has a very wonderful career component in that as well. So, I hope listeners will come back for that.

Bob Nations: Yes.

Shannon Warden: But yeah, so I’m hoping students are hearing the passion and it’s not just a static passion, but it is a growing and constantly investing and evolving passion that we have here in our Wake Forest University department of counseling. Mark we’re doing this campus and we’re doing it in our online master’s program with clinical mental health counseling and the school counseling. It’s something that students can expect either as a school counseling student or as a clinical mental health student. They’re gonna have a career course. And plus other opportunities, even if it’s just the one course. They’re still getting opportunities in practicum and internship in research projects as they choose to incorporate career. So, there are a lot of opportunities for that person who’s coming specifically as a career counselor. They’re gonna get that training as the clinical mental health counseling and the school counseling student will. But a lot of opportunity for them to really invest in that passion that they might feel or that calling that they might feel in career. So, we’re hoping we’re doing a good job. We think we are, but we are constantly working on it right Bob?

Bob Nations: We are, constantly.
Shannon Warden: All right Mark, do you have anything else you wanna share with us before we end our podcast today?

Mark Scholl: Just that career counseling is very personal, because it’s so much – we spend so much of our time and so much of our identity is connected to our career identity. And so much of our sense of wellbeing and mental health and wellness is connected to our careers. So, I think it’s really, really a central aspect of the counselor identity.

Shannon Warden: That’s a great work, Bob.

Bob Nations: That’s it.

Shannon Warden: That’s probably a good place to stop right there.

Bob Nations: That is. We thank you Mark.

Shannon Warden: Yeah, thanks Mark.

Mark Scholl: Thank you so much Shannon and Bob.