January 4, 2019 by Meredith Metsker
“It doesn’t matter if you grew up rich or poor, who your parents are or who they may not be, nor the circumstances you grew up in.
One thing we all have in common is that everyone has a reason why we are here on this earth. And for every purpose, there is a path.”
These are the first words students hear when they begin Dream Catcher, an eight-part, interactive curriculum designed to help students discover their purpose and align it with the most appropriate career path.
Created by Steve Ward, Dream Catcher is geared toward students and adults. Throughout the curriculum, students follow a map. Or in this case, “MAPPE.”
To create this map and help students identify potential career paths, Steve needed up-to-date, customizable labor market data he could integrate directly into the Dream Catcher interface.
Once a struggling student himself, Steve knew this data could help students answer the overwhelming question, “What is my purpose?”
That’s where Emsi comes in.
Dream Catcher’s original labor market data was limited. And Steve knew he needed better data that could also be incorporated directly into his lesson plans. He chose Emsi’s API so he’d have the same robust data sets that are in our software solutions, but with more flexibility.
With our API’s, users can pipe that data directly into their websites. Then they can mix-and-match data sources to build custom, branded dashboards (which automatically update).
That’s exactly what Steve did for Dream Catcher. He saw the value in having customizable data that could show students what careers are available, what they entail, where they’re located, and how much they pay.
“Using Emsi’s API has worked out so well for us that we’re really starting to move forward in growing our client base, helping more students, and changing lives,” Steve said.
Steve said the API was also extremely simple for his developers to integrate. Emsi’s support team made themselves available to ensure a quick and easy integration.
“Our customers have given us great compliments on how helpful and informative the labor market information feature has been,” Steve said.
Emsi’s data is living in Dream Catcher’s second lesson about career cluster investigation. All of the careers, such as medicine, engineering, and sports, are based on Emsi data.
Throughout Dream Catcher’s eight lessons, students choose an initial career interest and a backup career interest. Then they develop a plan of action and an execution strategy to help them reach their goals.
“If a student changes their purpose by the time they get to 11th or 12th grade, it doesn’t matter,” Steve said. “The way they came up with that decision, and the process that they planned for it, will always be the structure they use to make any major decision.”
Dream Catcher also uses a career assessment developed in Emsi’s Career Coach tool. The self-assessment, based on John Holland’s theory of personality, helps students identify their top three traits and validate their career decisions.
At the end of Dream Catcher, students create a virtual interview of themselves. It’s the finishing touch on a portfolio students can show to employers, colleges, volunteer coordinators, etc.
When teachers first began using Dream Catcher, they asked Steve to expand the career content and show how much careers were paying.
“Emsi was able to provide a system that did all those things with the most up-to-date information,” Steve said. “We enjoy having such a powerful tool to enhance and complement the other great features in our DreamCatcher programming. It definitely gives our software an advantage.”
Now, Steve’s client base has grown to include middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities, individual households, Goodwill, Boys and Girls Club, and other nonprofits.
“I want to see everyone have an equal opportunity to not only get an education, but to also understand what their value is. I want students to see how education can connect their success in the classroom to a destination that complements who they are and what their purpose is.”
Meredith Metsker is a data journalist at Emsi. Contact her at [email protected].