Academic Foundation


Rooted in Science, Perfected in Practice

We’re a research-based nonprofit, staying at the forefront of career development and student-focused social-emotional research. We’ve conducted a tremendous amount of academic research, attended and presented at several conferences, and piloted numerous programs over the last six years to figure out what matters most when advising career trajectory and student wellness.

“Much learning does not teach understanding.” – Heraclitus

We’ve assembled a test suite that measures:

  • Cognitive strengths
  • Interests
  • Character strengths
  • Coping resources

We combine this information in an integrated report that focuses on career clusters of several occupational fields, guided by interests and informed by cognitive strengths.

Adaptive coping resources and character strengths are discussed to build awareness of and encourage the individual’s ability to utilize these resources to both reduce the impact of stress and navigate life transitions regardless of what career path is eventually chosen.

Our Research Associate, Stefanie, is committed to investigating social-emotional learning programs, stress management, and coping skills on a local and national level so we can accurately understand and address the needs students face. Our research and interventions are trauma-informed and align with comprehensive health standards.

If you’d like to know more, check out the links below to some articles on each construct and our conference presentations.


What are people good at? (Cognitive ability)

We’re grounded in the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of cognitive ability. Our cognitive ability assessment is rooted in this theory and allows us to identify the abilities most relevant to career as identified by job analysis research. Click the link below to read an article that explains the foundation and structure of this theory.

Reynolds, C., Vannest, K., & Fletcher-Janzen, E. (Eds.). (2013). The Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities. Encyclopedia

               of Special Education.

What are people interested in? (Interests)

We use John Holland’s RIASEC (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional) interest framework to discuss interest profiles with our clients. Holland’s work has been instrumental in the field of psychology both in advancing career theory and interest assessment. Below is a brief description of each code and Holland’s bio:

Realistic work environments emphasize the physical environment and usually incorporate tools, machines, or animals. People who prefer to work in these environments likely enjoy using tools or machines in their hobbies or work and typically like courses that focus on the use of mechanical or physical skills.

Investigative work environments encourage people to find creative solutions to problems through mathematical and scientific methods that use complex and abstract thinking. People who prefer to work in these environments are likely to enjoy puzzles and typically like reading about science and discussing scientific issues.

Artistic work environments are free and open, and encourage creativity and personal expression. They are typically unstructured and allow much freedom in developing products. People who prefer to work in these environments usually enjoy expressing themselves in an unsystematic way, creating music, art, or writing.

Social work environments emphasize interpersonal flexibility and understanding, and require that people work together to help others. These environments are centered on values such as idealism, kindness, friendliness, and generosity. People who prefer to work in these environments typically enjoy helping others and solving problems through discussion and teamwork.

Enterprising work environments encourage the use of persuasion to meet organizational and/or personal goals. Finance and economic issues are dominate areas and calculated risk is usually rewarded. People who prefer to work in these environments are likely to enjoy using verbal skills to sell, persuade, or lead.

Conventional work environments are typically office environments that require a high degree of attention to detail and organization. People who prefer to work in these environments value order, being dependable, and following rules as well as accomplishing tasks and establishing an organized approach to solving problems.

Additional Information


We’re always digging for new information and striving to stay connected to our local and national career communities. Check out some of the resources and presentation info below. This gets updated periodically so come back every now and then to see what’s new!


Sharf, R. (2006). Applying Career Development Theory to Counseling. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

John Holland’s Bio

Managing stress (Coping)
Hess, R. & Copeland, E. (2001). Students’ stress, coping strategies, and school completion: A longitudinal perspective. School Psychology Quarterly, 16(4), 389-405.

Struthers, C. W., Perry, R. P., & Menec, V. H. (2000). An examination of the relationship among academic stress, coping, motivation and performance in college. Research in Higher Education, 41(5), 581-592.

Zepke, N., & Leach, L. (2010). Beyond hard outcomes: ‘soft’ outcomes and engagement as student success. Teaching in Higher Education, 15(6), 661-673. doi:10.1080/13562517.2010.522084

National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development Youth Development Work Group (2018). From a nation at risk to a nation at hope.   Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.

Personal strengths (Character strengths)
What are character strengths?

Lounsbury, J. W., Fisher, L. A., Levy, J. J., & Welsh, D. P. (2009). An investigation of character strengths in relation to the academic success of college students. Individual Differences Research, 7(1), 52-69.

Interesting Career Related Articles
We’ve come across a lot of interesting research on career in the last few years. Here are some additional articles.

Crişan, C., Pavelea, A., & Ghimbuluţ, O. (2015). A need assessment on students’ career guidance. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 180, 1022-1029. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.02.196

Johnson, J., Rochkind, J., Ott, A. N., & Dupoint, S. (2010). Can I get a little advice here? how an overstretched high school guidance system is undermining students’ college aspirations. (Public Agenda Report). 6 East 39th Street New York, NY 10016: Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation.

Preparing youth to succeed: The importance of career guidance. (2014, December). Global Partnership for Youth Employment, 3,1-5.

Öztemel, K. (2013). An investigation of career indecision level of high school students: Relationships with personal indecisiveness and anxiety. The Online Journal of Counseling and Education, 2(3), 46-58



Application of Coping Assessment in Career Development to Enhance Resiliency and Occupational Functioning (2016). Poster presented at the International Association for Education and Vocational Guidance conference, Madrid, Spain.

Application of Coping Theory and Assessment in Career Development to Enhance Resiliency in an Adolescent and Young Adult Population (2015). Presented at the Colorado Career Development Association conference.

Empower Your Clients Through Personal Branding (2018). Roundtable discussion at the National Career Development Association conference.

Enhancing Strengths Based College and Career Readiness (2018). Presented at the Colorado School Counselor Association Conference.

Guiding the Whole Student: The Importance of Addressing Career with Holistic Wellness (2017). Presented at the National Career Development Association conference.

Mental Health: Using Universal Screening within MTSS (2018). Presented at the Colorado School Counselor Association conference.

Personal Branding: What It Is and Why You Need It to Enhance Your Professional Growth as a Career Practitioner (2018). Roundtable discussion at the National Career Development Association conference.

Understanding Common Themes of Motivation and Coping: Insight into Career Development Assessment (2013). Presented at the International Life Design and Career Counseling Conference, Laboratory for Research and Intervention in Vocational Designing and Career Counseling at the University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

Using Assessment to Help Clients Promote Critical Soft Skills and Person-Organization Fit (2016). Presented at the Colorado Career Development Association conference.

Value of Cognitive Ability Assessment in Informing an Interest Based Career Trajectory (2015). Poster presented at the American Counseling Association conference.