Betty McWillie is one of only 210 master career counselors in the country. The owner of McWillie Career Directions in Memphis, McWillie says that specialized counseling careers such as hers are rare because of the advanced education and training required.
McWillie entered the field after several years in corporate public relations positions. She felt stressed and didn’t enjoy her work, so she went back to college and received her master’s degree in counseling.
Regardless of age, McWillie says that she helps clients target their particular skills, work experience, education, values, accomplishments and lifestyle preferences through self-assessment tests. She also helps them design resumes, perfect interview skills or look at job descriptions to match their strengths with concrete descriptions in interview settings. Other clients might also need her assistance to manage changes in job cultures.
One of her clients worked in a technical position for a company that was downsizing. McWillie matched the client’s self-assessment results with occupational interests and found that a corporate training position would be a positive match for her. Her client felt empowered to reapply for a position in that department and was rehired with the company. McWillie finds these success stories are the real rewards of her job. “I like to see people really tap into themselves and find their special talents and gifts.Her greatest challenge is listening to clients and helping them identify their particular career needs. “Listening is the key to everything.”
Counselors must complete a master’s degree or doctorate in general counseling from an accredited college or university with additional training in their chosen specialty. McWillie says that career counselors must study about two to three years in supervised practicums with a certified career counselor. Counselors must also be licensed and certified through the National Board of Certified Counselors and take 100 hours of continuing education courses every five years. Formed in 1982 by the American Counseling Association, this independent nonprofit organization serves to establish and monitor a national certification system, to identify to professionals and the public those counselors who have voluntarily sought and obtained certification and to maintain a directory of those counselors. State Technical Institute at Memphis teaches courses in preparation for the board exam. McWillie teaches one of these courses and also serves as a national board certified career development facilitator trainer.Counselors must also follow a professional code of ethics in practice that are outlined in a brochure on client rights and responsibilities that the board distributes to consumers of counseling services.
McWillie says that the workforce continues to change with an emphasis on company rebuilding. People in the workforce should see their work as a series of projects, she says, to cope with the constant change. She thinks that career centers will become even more prevalent in the corporate world with centers housed within companies. She has also found that more and more job seekers are using the Internet as a job search tool and has expanded her practice to distance career counseling.
Licensed Professional Counselor, Distance Credentialed Counselor, National Certified Career Counselor, Master Career Counselor, Global Career Development Facilitator Trainer
National Career Development Association