Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 2 – Assessments

This is the second post in a series delving into the various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library. Read all posts here.

The first step to any career decision is self-knowledge. You need to know what you want in order to pursue it. Assessments can be a useful first step to help you figure out what career you want to pursue. Career Cruising offers two assessments, the Matchmaker & My Skills and the Learning Styles Inventory.  Before you start your assessments, you will have to create a free account with Career Cruising.

The Matchmaker assesses your interest in certain common work activities. It is very intuitive. You will be presented a number of questions about common occupational tasks, and you choose the answer that applies most: dislike very much; dislike; does not matter; like; like very much.

Before you start you are also asked to indicate the level of education you aspire to or already have. The database will present you only with jobs that match your interests and the indicated education level.

After you finish answering the questions, Career Cruising will present you with a list of occupations that match your indicated interests.

At this point you could change the level of education to see what matching careers would be available with a different degree of education.

You can stop here and explore the indicated careers further by clicking on the link to get to in-depth information about each respective career. Or you can continue the assessment, which now changes scope and asks about the skills most commonly associated with your matching careers. You again answer the questions on a five point scale: highly skilled; skilled; have some skill; don’t have this skill; can’t answer this.

The results of the skills assessment will be incorporated with the results of the interest assessment and shows if you have the skills most commonly associated with those careers. Now, it is important to note that this skills assessment depends on your self-reported answers. Therefore it is not an objective overview of your skills.

Now you can see if you already have the major skills needed for the careers you are interested in. This serves as great input for further research.

The second assessment, the Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) will show you how you best process information. There are three types of learning or ways of processing information: visual (looking at information, graphs, images, etc); auditory (listening to information); and tactile (hands-on learning). Most people prefer one way of learning over the others. This information can be especially useful for students who are still contemplating their further education and career path.

Both assessments are a good start for your career exploration. They are intuitive and quick to take and will lead you to more information about matching careers.

The Career Cruising database can be accessed through the EBRPL Digital Library.

Written by Anne Nowak.

Strong Interest Inventory Assessment

The Career Center offers career coaching and assessments by appointment, which now includes the Strong Interest Inventory®. This assessment is available free of charge to patrons with a valid East Baton Rouge Parish library card.

The Strong is a scientifically validated career assessment which can only be administered by a Strong Certified Practitioner.  It is one of the most respected and widely used career planning instruments in the world. The Strong is of value to students deciding on a career path or college major as well as to mid-career professionals contemplating  career fit, change, or realignment.

The Strong will only be administered as part of career coaching. Interested individuals can contact the Career Center at (225) 231-3733 and set up an appointment with a career coach.

Further information about the assessment can be found here.

Written by Anne Nowak

Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 1

This is the first post is a series delving into the various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library. Read all posts here.

Career Cruising is a database that’s a very user-friendly one-stop-shop for all things related to college, career, and job search information. All you need is an East Baton Rouge Parish Library card and a computer with internet connection. Want to find out which university in your area offers a criminal justice major? Career Cruising can do that for you. Want to find careers that don’t need a 4-year degree but pay more than $60,000 a year? Career Cruising can do that (it identifies 20 occupations for these criteria, among them commercial driver, energy auditor, landman, and mortgage broker). Want to know exactly what an actuary does and what it takes to become one? Yes, Career Cruising has that information too. Need to find scholarships to pay for college? Again, check Career Cruising.

You can access the database through the EBRPL Digital Library, which will take you to the Career Cruising home page.

Career Cruising presents ample information divided into five tabs: Assessments, Careers, Education, Financial Aid, and Employment.

You can browse all information without creating an account (except for the assessments and the resume builder — for those you will need an account). While you can use most functions without an account, the database will not save any of your activities and you will have to start over the next time you access Career Cruising. It’s better to create a “My Plan” account with Career Cruising to save your assessments, education plans, and searches. This way you can come back, view your earlier activity, and continue where you left off at any time.

Now you are ready to plan your college or career journey. Not sure about your skills and interests? Start with an assessment. You can take the “Matchmaker & My Skills,” which assesses your interests and matches them with occupations, or the “Learning Styles Inventory,” which measures how you learn best and retain information most efficiently — valuable information for planning your further education.

You can either use your assessment results to research matching careers or skip assessments and  jump into the careers tab right away. The careers section is such a treasure trove of easily accessible information that we will explore it in more depth in a future post. For now, here is an overview of the kind of information you can search for.

You can search for occupations alphabetically or by school subject, which will present you with careers related to your favorite school subject. You can also look at occupations by career cluster and by industries, and there is a separate section with explanations of military careers. Additionally, the Career Selector is a tool that lets you choose specific criteria, such as salary, core tasks, and education level, and matches those to occupations that fit your criteria.

The education section is also a one-stop-shop. You can search for universities by region or by major. You can conduct side-by-side comparisons of schools in terms of majors, size, cost, etc. And the database can give you a planning timeline by major, which will tell you which classes you should take in high school to best prepare you for your chosen major.

Now that you’ve chosen a college, you are ready to find scholarships. Use the Financial Aid tab to search among thousands of scholarship opportunities. You can use the alphabetical index to search according to scholarship name. Or you can use the Financial Aid Selector and search according to your specified criteria. For either search method, the result will give you a full scholarship profile and a link to the respective website. The site also features information about  the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Last but not least, Career Cruising can help with your job search. Under the Employment tab you will find links to information about job search skills such as cover letter writing, interview preparation, resume writing, etc.  There is a job search feature that links you to, a job postings aggregator that helps you find open positions in your field and location. To help you write a winning resume, Career Cruising also features a “Build My Resume” tool.

There is such a wealth of information in this database that this article can only scratch the surface.  Career Cruising is intuitive and user-friendly, so you will do fine just logging on and browsing the site. However, we will follow up with future posts elaborating on each section of this database.

Written by Anne Nowak.

Career Path: Diesel Mechanic

Who is usually the most popular guy in the neighborhood? A mechanic!

If you are looking for a career that could be more than just a job and pays great reward with some old-fashioned “sweat equity,” then being a diesel mechanic might be the perfect profession for you.

What are the pros?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, produced by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow by 12% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

As more freight is shipped across the country, additional diesel-powered trucks will be needed to carry freight where trains and pipelines are not available or economical. Additionally, diesel cars and light trucks are becoming more popular, and more diesel technicians will be needed to maintain and repair these vehicles.

What about the cons?

While not exactly a con, a career as a diesel mechanic requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Since technology never stops evolving, keeping up with new developments is absolutely critical if you are to succeed as a diesel technician. Those who do not may find themselves relegated to oil changes, and little else, for the rest of their careers. People who enjoy learning and are willing to invest time in continuing education may be best suited for this job.

What’s the pay like?

In May 2015, the Occupational Outlook Handbook reported that the median annual wage for diesel service technicians and mechanics was $44,520. The lowest 10% earned less than $28,680 and the highest 10% earned more than $66,940.

Median annual wage by industry:

  • $51,870 – State and local government
  • $45,480 – Wholesale trade
  • $41,540 – Automotive repair and maintenance
  • $40,650 – Truck transportation

Many diesel technicians, especially those employed by truck fleet dealers and repair shops, receive a commission in addition to their base salary. Most diesel technicians work full-time, and overtime is common, as many repair shops extend their service hours during evenings and weekends. Additionally, some truck and bus repair shops provide 24-hour maintenance and repair services.

What does a typical day on the job look like?

Diesel technicians and mechanics work in a variety of settings, including car dealerships, trucking companies, private garages, and even government agencies. Technicians are responsible for keeping diesel engines in good shape, and this involves regular inspections, routine service, repairs, and occasionally may even require full engine rebuilds.

What qualifications are needed?

This is a job for those who are mechanically inclined, love working with their hands, and enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together. Diesel technicians usually start their careers by earning a professional certificate in diesel technology. Many technical schools and community colleges offer these programs, some of which enable you to earn an associate degree. Programs tend to mix hands-on teaching with conventional classroom learning and typically include courses in hydraulic applications, diesel electronics and diagnosis, diesel engines and repair, and fuel systems, among others.  There are also specialized programs within the field of diesel technology such as marine diesel technology.

So if you are ready to get your hands dirty and start a rewarding career, your future is literally in your hands!

Written by Cynthia Payton

UREC College and Career Ready Program

This spring the Career Center will be conducting career preparation workshops for high school students as part of the Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation’s program College and Career Ready.

The program is open to all high school students in grades 9-12 and offers interactive enrichment workshops in ACT preparation, college readiness, campus tours, academics, career exploration and more throughout the academic year. The program is still accepting participants. For more information, visit the UREC website.


Written by Anne Nowak

Cool Careers: Geospatial Technology and Geographic Information Systems

November 16 was International Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day, and events were held all over the world to introduce GIS applications and careers to a broader audience.

Do you like maps? Do you like computers and technology? Do you want a career with upward potential and very diverse fields of application? Yes? Then geospatial technology is for you!


What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are software programs that help map different global, regional, or local phenomena, making them easier to understand. GIS aides in processing and communicating information and makes it possible to put different layers of information over a map and thereby telling the story of a place through different lenses. It is possible to create maps that illustrate the social, linguistic, ethnic, environmental, settlement, or climate history and development of a certain locale.

What does a GIS professional do?

GIS specialists translate data into maps. They research, design, and develop geographical information systems and geospatial technology using different databases. They also analyze data and use it to plot and prepare digital maps.

How do I become a GIS Professional?


Where do GIS professionals work?

GIS maps and data are needed and used in virtually every field. Law enforcement needs crime maps, the agricultural industry needs crop maps, and coastal protection agencies need maps of changing coast lines. GIS specialists are needed in numerous sectors; and are employed by diverse entities, such as engineering and surveying firms, utility companies, insurance companies, oil and gas companies, and logistics firms. Public employers, such as local and state governments, also have a sizable need in departments concerning  natural resources, traffic and development, urban planning, and elections, among others. Last but not least, the federal government and military employ GIS specialists for intelligence and homeland security work.

For more detailed information on this profession, check out the career profile for geospatial information scientists and technologists on O-Net.

Written by Anne Nowak.