Designing and Implementing Career Programs

Book Review By Hunter Alessi

Book Review: Designing and Implementing Career Programs: A Handbook for Effective Practice by James P. Sampson, Jr., Ph. D. NCDA Monograph Series (119 pages)


This handbook is a resource for those who work to improve career services in almost any capacity or venue with adults and/or adolescents. It contains practical and detailed information which can enable those in business or educational settings to create career a development program, put the design into practice, and assess and evaluate the outcomes of the plan. Based on the Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) model, the author presents step-by-step instructions for formulating effective career services, either by changing existing programs or starting a new one. Each book includes a CD of appendices from the text with handouts, forms, and worksheets that are easily duplicated and edited for specific organizations, programs, or individuals.

Sampson clearly outlines his intentions, and then proceeds to describe his plan with logical and concise information and explanations. The reader is taken from the first stage of envisioning a career program through the final (and ongoing) stages of assessment, evaluation, and improvement. There is no extraneous material in this monograph. It appears that each chapter includes the requisite information needed to inform and assist the reader; yet, there are no forays into non-pertinent topics. This is a resource manual, and it contains a vast amount of useful information that can be appreciated by both the novice and experienced career professional.

Career services professionals are certainly familiar with Sampson's work, which applies Information Processing Theory to career development using the Pyramid of Information Processing Domains and the CASVE process in career decision-making. However, the material presented here can enrich both the knowledge and proficiency of the career professional by providing more depth and breadth than is usually found in a text or presented at a workshop. With this resource, one could literally start from nothing and design an entire career service center. On the other hand, existing organizations and educational facilities can utilize portions of the manual to augment, refine, or restructure their career services.

A noteworthy feature of the handbook is Samson's suggestion (on page 3) about how different readers may want to use the handbook. He includes a schema of key concepts (which can be found at the beginning of each corresponding chapter), and then cites exactly which elements may be useful to specific groups and individuals, depending on their role in career service delivery. For example, Sampson suggests that Task Group members may only need to read Chapters 1 - 7 and Appendices B, I, and J.

Sampson also includes a chapter (Chapter 8) describing how to adapt elements of handbook for use in a variety of settings, including diverse cultures. He suggests ways to create a new program that reflects the concepts, needs, and terminology that may already exist. These recommendations are clearly detailed and seem that they would be fairly easy to assimilate and accomplish.

To add emphasis to this point, Sampson includes a CD-ROM with reproducible handouts, forms, and worksheets. There are also six (6) PowerPoint presentations in the CD-ROM for use in staff training. Everything included on the CD-ROM can be edited to fit the needs of a particular organization, school, or program.

Flow charts, tables, and bulleted lists enhance the readability of the handbook. In the chapter on implementation, for example, Sampson includes a chart which describes elements of effective and ineffective change from both role and process perspectives. There is also an implementation model depicted in a flow chart and in a list, and then each step is described in detail.

The strengths of this book are the straightforward format, adaptable content and activities, and thoroughness of the model. Topics are easy to find and concepts are fully explained. Sampson offers suggestions for changing the model to better fit specific venues; this lends a high degree of flexibility for career professionals. However, the integrity of the content and process remains intact.

Those who operate from different theoretical models (e.g., Holland) may not find the handbook completely user-friendly. However, Sampson does allow for this, and explains how to implement portions of the services without using the CIP approach.

This monograph presents a comprehensive approach for delivering career services to adolescents and adults with differing needs in a variety of settings. Emphasizing cost-effective and efficient change, Sampson defines, describes, recommends, and suggests a wealth of career resources that can be useful in educational and business settings. Every aspect of changing or creating career programs is covered in this compact and complete monograph.


The monograph is available in NCDA's online Career Resource Store.

 Hunter Alessi, Ph. D., LPC, is a Professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development at Southeastern Louisiana University. She has taught Career Counseling since 1992. Her e-mail address is HAlessi@selu.edu.





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