YouScience program helps students match interests and aptitudes with careers

May 22, 2024 Career Exploration

For some people, choosing a career is really as simple as following their hearts. We all know someone who found their calling and locked down their goals while they were still getting their nutrition from juice boxes and string cheese. 

And then there are the rest of us –  trying to figure out what makes us tick, or whether we have what it takes to pursue a passion, or which career option makes the most sense. Hey, many of us here at Granite Edvance have taken career pathways that look like our GPS lost its signal on some gnarly backcountry roads. We know how young people –and adults — feel as they confront major life decisions.  

And thanks to modern technology, we can do more than just empathize. Granite Edvance uses a tool from a company called YouScience to help students identify their interests and aptitudes, match them with promising careers, and even plot the routes to those careers.  

Here’s how it works. Step #1, students sign up for a Career and Aptitude Exploration appointment on our website. Step #2, they take a series of “brain games”  – nine for high schoolers and five for middle schoolers – measuring things like spatial visualization, inductive reasoning, sequential reasoning, and idea generation. Then they complete an interest profile.  

Step #3, students meet with a member of our education and career planning team to go over their results: a personalized database of career options with corresponding salary range, aptitude fit, and interest fit, as well as a peek at a day-in-the-life on the job and other details.  

“It’s really fun to see those reactions, to see their eyebrows go up,” said North Country Pathways and Funding Specialist Celina Heyliger. “They’re like, ‘how do you know me?’” 

Many times, the results confirm what a student is already feeling, said Education and Career Specialist Eric Lofstedt. After all, people tend to gravitate toward what they’re naturally good at. “They’re like, ‘okay, I’m on the right track,’” he said.  

But that’s not always the case. “The fun ones are the ones who had no idea what they wanted to do,” Eric said.  

“Sometimes they learn that they have a natural aptitude for something they might not have been exposed to before,” added Education and Career Specialist Chris Cox. Other times, they may not know how a certain skill connects to a certain career. “It’s very interesting to see where the overlap is,” he said.  

While the test can be eye-opening and informative, it isn’t prescriptive. For example, a student who loves science but doesn’t have strong science skills can use filters to find careers that meet them where they are, or play some of the supplemental games that may identify other skills.  

“Let’s say your memorization skills aren’t great, but you have really good eye-hand coordination,” Eric said. “Well, you might be closer to a certain career than you think you are.”  

As they explore careers, students can also utilize a resume builder, a college planner, and a career connections section. And they have access to their results for 10 years because, well, even with science at your fingertips, dreams and plans can change.  

We Tried It 

Sarah Earle, assistant vice president of communications: 

I coerced my daughter, a college sophomore, into taking the YouScience test while I watched obnoxiously over her shoulder.  I won’t lie, Katie was probably less than fully invested in the process, powering through tests such as visual comparison, spatial visualization, and numerical reasoning like she was going for the speed trophy rather than trying to unlock clues to her future. 

When she got to the section titled “idea generation,” however, the light bulb came on. It was fascinating to watch her ideas pour out in real time. She also liked the interest profiler.  

“The end was interesting because based off all the answers you gave, you had to rank a bunch of different career options,” she said.  

Ultimately, the test provided some helpful insights into good-fit careers for Katie, who has since declared her major in environmental studies.  

Shelby Muizzo, assistant vice president, college planning and outreach 

It was so fun and interesting to gain this deeper understanding of my strengths and workstyle. Although I was already aware of some of my strengths, it was really helpful to learn more, like that I’m a “Brainstormer” and “Future Focuser,” and how that impacts my daily work. Who doesn’t love learning more about themselves?  

As far as the career options, my top match is “Secondary School Education Administrator,” which is pretty darn close to my career! My second match is “Informatics Nurse Specialist,” but that’s only because the assessment didn’t capture how squeamish I am regarding anything medical. 

Eric Lofstedt, education and career specialist 

My experience was fascinating. Learned a lot about myself and confirmed many of the traits and strengths I had already thought. It was crazy accurate about who I was.  

Careers it picked for me: Arbitrator/Mediator/Counselor, Secondary School Educator, Child/Family/School Social Worker, Forest Firefighter. (I do love me a good fire!) 

Jennifer Schaffner, communications specialist 

I love the summary at the end, letting you know what careers might be a good fit and what type of education is required for those careers. I also love that it uses both your aptitude and your interests in giving recommendations – it’s important to find a career that fits both! 

Danielle Barrick, vice president, communications and external affairs 

The test was intense and thorough, and I was as nervous as I was curious while I waited for the verdict: If the YouScience test was really as powerful as I’d heard it is, what if it revealed to me that I was in the wrong line of work? How would I handle that? I was so fortunate to have Celina guide me through my results: She was warm, kind, positive and so knowledgeable when we met. Even before I learned that I could, in fact, keep my job, I began to feel that it was all going to be okay. And the real shocker? Turns out I also have an aptitude for math! If only I’d known this in high school! 

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