Monographs Provide a Wealth of Practical and Easily Accessible Information: A Conversation with James P. Sampson, Jr., Ph.D.
By Brian M. Montalvo
[Editor's Note: This author interview originally appeared in Career Convergence Web Magazine in August 2010. It is being reprinted as part of our Special Book Review issue now.]
Next in Career Convergence’s “Conversation with an Author!” Series *.
"Designing and Implementing Career Programs: A Handbook for Effective Practice" by James P. Sampson, Jr. PhD. 2008.
Overview of the Monograph
Sampson provides practical, proven and insightful information on designing and implementing career programs at all levels and settings. James “Jim” Sampson, a person known for his inexhaustible amount of energy and innovative approach to career counseling, draws on many years of experience with developing and evaluating career programs.
About the Monograph Author
Sampson is the Mode L. Stone Distinguished Professor of Counseling and Career Development and Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at Florida State University.
My interview with Dr. Sampson focused on how using his monograph will benefit and impact career programs and his motivation for writing it.
You have published numerous career theory books and articles, what motivated you to do this project?
My work has focused on two areas: the design and use of computer applications in counseling and the design and implementation of career resources and services. I have worked with administrators and staff in career centers and one-stop centers who were working hard, and often struggling, with improving the delivery of their resources and services. Over time I began to notice the factors that contributed to success and problems in implementing change. I thought if I could write down what I have learned over the years, it might help others who are working to improve the resources and services they provide to help young people and adults who are making career choices.
Describe your background and unique qualifications that make you the best author to pursue and produce this project?
I began my professional career as a practitioner, a college counselor. I try to never forget what it is like to work as a practitioner helping individuals day in and day out. One of my first tasks in the counseling center was to design a career resource center for the university counseling center where I worked. In those days there were not many guides on how to do this, so I did the best I could at the time. The best help I received was from Bob Reardon at Florida State University who had developed an innovative career center with the goal of providing quality services to a large number of students. I implemented some of his ideas in my own career services. When I had the opportunity to work with Bob as a counselor educator at Florida State, I jumped at the chance. As a result of our work in evaluating and implementing computer-assisted career guidance systems, I was asked to help other career centers implement computer applications. When Gary Peterson and Janet Lenz joined Bob and me as a research team to create and implement the cognitive information processing approach to career choice, I was asked to help various higher education career centers and public sector one-stop centers to implement our approach. Eventually, this led to helping several countries to implement new career resources and services based on the CIP approach.
How does this monograph help career practitioners improve or create their career programs?
The handbook is designed to help staff members make the most effective use of their time in implementing changes in the design and delivery of career resources and services. I hope that it stimulates discussion among managers, practitioners, and stakeholders about best meeting the needs of adults in career centers and schools who have varying needs for assistance in making career decisions. I tried to include as many figures, charts, and checklists to make it easy to apply the recommendations in the monograph. Rather than reading from the beginning to the end, the monograph is intended to be used as a reference guide at various points as career services are designed/redesigned and implemented. There is also a CD-Rom included that provides a variety of training materials to help managers and practitioners implement the recommendations.
You have been involved with career programs for over 27 years, what is the most important piece of advice or trend this monograph has to offer career practitioners?
Given my experience, I have come to several conclusions. First, the time invested in planning ultimately saves both time and money. Second, the time taken to correct a problem is typically longer than the time invested in the planning that might have prevented the problem from occurring in the first place. Third, some planning is better than no planning at all. Fourth, implementation is an ongoing process that can improve over time. Fifth, staff participation in decision making, effective training, and regular communication with staff and stakeholders about the changes that are being made contribute more to the successful delivery of career resources and services than the resources and services alone. Finally, serendipity is an important factor in implementing change, as unanticipated situations will create both problems and opportunities.
In your experience, what are some major concerns career programs are currently facing?
I see several concerns. First, reductions in public funding are requiring organizations to reevaluate their services to determine how they can make the most effective use of the funds they have available. Second, as policy makers face tough budget choices, they are requiring organizations to provide more evaluation and accountability data to justify their funding. Third, there is no shortage of clients seeking services. Most organizations are serving increasing numbers of adolescents and adults with more diverse and more complicated needs. The good news is that organizations with a positive perspective, good evaluation strategies, and a clear process for implementing change seem to be thriving despite limited budgets.
You’ve had a chance to consult and take your ideas about programming to a score of countries around the world; is there a commonality regarding issues in the U.S. and around the world?
In general, I have found career services in various countries to be more similar than different. There seem to be several commonalities among countries: (a) good leadership from administrators is essential; (b) effective training and supervision enables staff to make the most of their abilities; (c) effective organizations regularly recognize effective staff members; and (d) an attitude of cautious optimism about change seems to work best as organizations implement new career resources and services. In summary, I am optimistic about the future. My optimism stems from the many excellent professionals I have met who work to improve the design and delivery of career resources and services for the individuals they serve.
Dr. Sampson's Monograph "Designing and Implementing Career Programs: A Handbook for Effective Practice" is available online
in the NCDA Career Resource Store.
Brian M. Montalvo, M.S./Ed.S, MCC, NCC is the assistant director of career education at Florida Atlantic University’s Career Development Center. He also teaches career development and college success courses and is a frequent contributor to career counseling publications. Brian is a national certified counselor and a master career counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or 561-297-3533.
* Conversations with an Author Series is the web magazine's way of introducing the author and book in a way that is more personal to the reader. The exploration of the source and significance of the publication takes on a new meaning when revealed from the author's viewpoint. The original articles in this Series include the following:
“Writing a Book is Good for Business: A Conversation with Sally Gelardin” by Sue Aiken, 2007.
“Career and Caregiving as Related to Private Practice” by Sue Aiken, 2010