| You’ve thought a lot about the kind of work you want to do.|
The duties, the pay, the hours, the environment – everything
sounds right. According to the newspaper ads, there is a big
demand out there. You find a program that sounds really
good. You are all ready to sign on the dotted line.
Stop! Before you invest your time, your energy, and a good
chunk of your money in this direction, ask some tough
1. Request that the school provide you with placement
statistics – these are required by the state for all
approved vocational courses. Statistics can be misleading so
ask for details – what kind of job did the graduates find,
how much did it pay, how long did it take them to find it?
2. Ask for the names and telephone numbers of 6 recent
graduates you can contact for feedback. Good schools often
have recent graduates visiting on site to share their
experiences with current students. If the school refuses to
provide such a list, or cannot provide it for whatever
reason they give you, red flags should be immediately
3. Is State Licensure or Certification required for this
field? If so, what is the school’s passing rate? What is the
examination’s pass rate overall? How do they compare?
4. Arrange to audit one or two classes. Evaluate the
instructor and the program organization. Talk to the other
students about their experience.
5. Visit the placement office and find out what services and
support are offered. At a minimum, you should receive a
professional resume and multiple job leads. An excellent
school will also provide interviewing skill training and
employer background information. Find out if the school
works consistently with several local employers which
indicates that their graduates have been positive hires in
6. Sit down with the Sunday Classifieds and circle employers
in the field. Then call them for information. Are new
graduates considered or is actual work experience required?
Is the school known in the business community and what kind
of reputation does it have? Has this company ever hired a
graduate of this school? How would the employer recommend
that someone enter this field?
If the school comes through with flying colors, move ahead
with the knowledge that obtaining a first job after training
is always difficult but you have some sources of support.
If your questions have revealed weaknesses in the program,
evaluate other schools or consider selecting a different
About the Author
Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a respected Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. Author of an interactive and emotionally supportive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at http://www.unemploymentblues.com