Tuesday, October 9, 2018

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Choosing a career and pursuing the education for it is a huge decision, and having a lot of relevant information available may help point young people in the right direction. We were recently asked to review a new tool to help with those directions called CashCrunch Careers. It's one of the newest products available on the website CashCrunch Games.

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
CashCrunch Games was developed by Paul Vasey, a former teacher of Business Studies, to help people - especially students! - learn the basics of money and finance without being intimidated. The games offered on the CashCrunch website allow students to make mistakes and learn to respect money in a virtual world, so they'll be better equipped to manage real money in the real world.

A newer addition to the website is CashCrunch Careers. This is not a game, but a personal survey that directs the user to potential careers matching the preferred work styles and attributes. In a nutshell, the student completes a survey of personality and work preference traits. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. When completed, the results in the survey report help pinpoint the student's motivators, preferred work styles, and career attributes. It also produces a list of twenty jobs or career areas that would suit these preferences. The idea is that with a more informed decision about what you'd enjoy and be good at, you'll be less likely to waste time and money on pursuing a college major or a career pathway that wouldn't be a good fit.

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

How did we use it?  Kennady filled out the survey, which took around 15 minutes, and from there we had time to start looking at her career survey report. Her work style is identified as thriving in a team environment, and having a high-spirited and energetic approach to work. Other descriptors in that section were friendly, supportive, generous, and the ability to relate to many kinds of people and listen to others as well as share her own ideas. So far, so good - pretty accurate!

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The results also gave a summary of motivators and de-motivators. This indicated that she likes and prefers to lead and influence others, but then also said that being the designated leader of a group is not important to her. So I guess she's good either way? Sounds fair. Her motivators include independence, flexibility, and exposure to new people and ideas; and her de-motivators included routine, being too closely supervised, and being alone and without a phone. (That last one made me laugh because doesn't it describe almost every teen and young adult? Maybe older adults too!) Again, pretty spot-on.

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Then, top career attributes that would be her likely strengths in the workplace. These included things like independence, creativity, conceptual thinking, team-oriented, confident, and helpful. Most of the attributes listed I wouldn't disagree with, but there were a couple that surprised us a little bit.

Finally the career match - jobs most suitable for her career. This section is supposed to match the work styles and attributes to careers based on research from the US Department of Labor. There are twenty matching jobs listed in the report, and this is where our own opinions on what would suit Kennady seemed to be very different from the generated results.

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Of the twenty jobs listed, eighteen were management and administrative. General and Operations Managers, Marketing Managers, Administrative Services Managers, Industrial Production Managers, Education Administrators, Cost Estimators . . .  She and I had the same initial reaction when looking through the list and that is that she has no interest at all in most of those areas, and would be very unhappy doing all the data analysis and organizational functions - and especially the work with numbers and math that would be required! - that we associated with those job titles.

There's information available for each job and career area on whether the number of available positions in that sector are in growth or decline patterns, as well as a listing of colleges that provide the needed education. Most have a short video (around a minute long) giving an overview of the job area. These videos appeared to have been produced in late 80s or early 90s, and although the info isn't really outdated, the computers and fashions seen in them are, and that was distracting. (Those videos are from the US Dept of Labor, I think.) There is, of course, great value in knowing what industries and career areas are growing and which are in decline. If a particular industry is growing and demand for skilled workers or management in that area is on the rise, that's a factor to take into consideration when choosing a career path.

For each of those categories, we could click through to a page that gave a bit more description of the types of tasks that would be performed. Another click through gave a more detailed list of jobs in that career area. And yes, it's possible to find more variety there. But the fact is that nothing in the area of Business, Management, and Administration is appealing to her as a career, and the job descriptions sounded like they'd be full of routine (a de-motivator) and very lacking in opportunities for flexibility and creativity (her motivators). The only job listed in her twenty suggestions that sparked a tiny bit of interest for her was Funeral Director at number 15 on the list. That's in a Human Services category, which did have a few other jobs listed that appealed to her. But overall, we felt that the jobs and careers generated as top possibilities based on her survey results may have been good matches for her innate leadership and relational abilities, but were actually poor matches for her interests, skills, and ambitions.

A key component that seems to be missing from this product at present is an evaluation of actual skills, talents, and interests. The survey evaluated personality traits and personal preferences, but there was no inclusion of interests and preferences related to having skills in artistic areas or mechanics, or relating well with children or adults, or any of those types of skill sets. For the most part the survey focused on personality types and I was left with the impression that the evaluation was mostly focused on whether someone worked well in teams or individually, and whether their personality was well suited to leadership and management roles or not. I felt that the results are targeted very strongly towards business and finance careers, which is a huge chunk of the workplace, but doesn't seem to direct towards skilled labor, creative fields, or service industries (other than managing those services). I think it's good that Kennady learned that she has leadership and management skills that might serve her well in the workplace; and maybe consider some career areas that she wouldn't have thought of otherwise. However, nothing in the survey or her results helped her identify possible careers in the direction her talents and interests already lie - which involves music. Not just managing another artist or managing a music publishing business either, but being hands-on creative in her own way.

In my opinion, choosing a career and pursuing the education for that career based primarily on a personality survey is a risky business. Personality and inherent leadership ability are indeed an important part of that picture, but I think the most important factor is figuring out what you want to DO and what you're good at doing, and then focus on the possible careers that can be built around doing something that you love. For example, Kennady's starting point should be music. There are a lot of careers that relate to music other than just performing artist or music teacher. Which of those career areas suit her personality type, and her comfort level with leadership and management? What education and training do each of those careers call for? And what is the growth and earning potential of each of those careers? What related fields could she work in that would be enjoyable for her if she wants or needs a "day job" to pay the bills while she builds up a private teaching studio or tries her hand at recording and performing? That would be more helpful, in my opinion, than starting with eighteen types of managerial and administrative career areas that basically all require the same skill sets and have the same role descriptions.

What we liked best:
  • there is a lot of information available in the database on all kinds of jobs and careers, and spending time browsing through the lists and the colleges offering related education can generate good discussion and expand ideas for possible careers.
  • the work styles, motivators, and career attributes results were very interesting and useful. These  preferences, strengths, and weaknesses are good things for her to consider as she moves forward with education and career choices, and even part-time jobs along the way. 
  • as I looked at the CashCrunch home page and the games available, I was quite intrigued by CashCrunch 101, a personal finance game that teaches teens about budgeting and spending. I've bookmarked that one for possible use in the Consumer Math course she'll be taking this school year.
What I need to mention:
  • the generated list of job matches seemed like a whole lot of the same thing, and didn't seem like the best matches for my student. Her personality might indeed make her a good manager, but her talents, skills, and interests would not be put to use in the suggested job areas. I think if the personality type survey was combined with a survey that evaluated interests and skill areas, the results would feel much more personalized.
  • at times we had to keep logging back in every few minutes in order to be able to access the database. 
Our bottom line:  I love the idea and the principle behind this entire website. The online games to teach budgeting and finance skills are a great concept for kids and teens to learn much needed practical skills. I also love the idea of choosing a career path and pursuing the needed education based on what one would actually enjoy, be well suited for, and be good at. I believe that adding another layer of evaluating skills and interests in order to produce a list of potential careers would make this a truly useful resource for students. I hope to see something like that added and developed as part of CashCrunch Careers.
CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Would you like to explore money and careers with CashCrunch? Here's what you need to know:

Visit the website:  www.CashCrunchGames.com/

Pricing: CashCrunch Careers is a paid portion of the website. Take the survey and get lifetime access to all the results for $99.

Age recommendations: There are CashCrunch Games suitable for ages 5 through adult. CashCrunch Careers is recommended for students age fourteen and up.

You can follow CashCrunch on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and on YouTube.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews.

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