Kyle Vohlken is the Vocational Evaluator at Kandu, Inc.’s Career Assessment Center in downtown Holland, Michigan. Kandu is a private non-profit agency, founded 35 years ago by concerned parents of children with developmental disabilities. Kandu has been CARF certified since 1977.
The Career Assessment Center serves between 250 to 400 clients per year at a location separate from Kandu’s main facilities. “Since 1984 we’ve been right downtown in a regular looking office building,” Kyle said. “We provide different kinds of services from those of the main facilities, so we felt the Center should have its own location. It’s worked out very well. We have all sorts of clients, those with disabilities and those without. We get most referrals from the local school systems, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, and insurance companies, including Workers’ Compensation. And, for the past 12 years, I’ve gone out to the Intermediate School District’s technical center where I evaluate high school Special Education sophomores who will be attending the center in their junior and senior years. I assess 4 students at a time, and we use Valpar work samples 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 and the GOE Pictorial Interest Survey. The GOE’s 12 interest areas correspond well to the technical center’s training programs.”
Kyle provides a half-day evaluation for the students to help them select their training programs. “They really like the work samples,” she said. “But they always blow the blue chips on the number 7 (Multi-Level Sorting). The kids always go too fast, and they mix up the blue chips. Fortunately, with the work samples, we can just point out the error and do it again. The goal is to see if they can do similar work, not whether they can do it right on the first try. And they like the ‘hands-on’ aspect. Most of them are good with their hands anyway. I probably do between 120 and 170 of those evaluations per year.”
Although the high school students receive half-day evaluations, some clients have evaluations that run a full week. “Many of those are the Workers’ Comp folks,” said Kyle. “It takes time to build the necessary rapport and trust with many of them. They’ve been hurt. Their lives have been turned upside down, and they can be a little suspicious for a while. We usually get along just fine after a day or so.”
Kyle has recently marketed career-planning services to self-paying, uninjured people who are making a career change or contemplating one. “They want to find out what they can do, what jobs are out there. Often the process affirms what they already had in mind, although perhaps the idea wasn’t quite fully developed. We had a woman come in for an evaluation who owned a sweet little greeting card shop. She wanted to make a change. Her husband had come in for an evaluation himself two years earlier, and he’d been pleased, so he encouraged her to go for it too. She did, and now she’s a stockbroker, I believe.”
Said Kyle, “With these people, I take them through (Pro3000’s) COMPASS and Pictorial Interest Survey in the mornings, write up the reports while they’re at lunch, and in the afternoons we discuss the results. They come back from lunch and see the list of all the occupations that fit their interests and abilities, and they’re really pleased. I usually do the ‘Potential Search, one level up’. It always brings up tons of jobs, and the color-coding shows them at a glance exactly how their profiles fit with those of the occupations. It works very well. Pro3000 is the perfect tool for this,” said Kyle. “The system’s so flexible.”
Kyle enjoys doing in-service training with the area high school Special Education teachers. “They usually don’t have an understanding of what Vocational Evaluation and assessment is all about and what it can do for their students. I plan to do a lot more training in the future.”
Kyle has been considering offering the one-day evaluation service to recent high school graduates and college students who haven’t decided on their majors. “It would give them some focus, help them home in on their interest areas as well as show them where their strengths and weakness are.”
Kyle is originally from Long Island, and she has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Russell Sage College in Upstate New York. (Her English degree ensured an active grant-writing role for her at the Center. “And I love to write reports” she said.) Kyle moved from New York to California, where she stayed for only a couple of years before moving to Holland. “And I’ve been here ever since.”
Holland is a town on Lake Michigan’s western shore about three hours north of Chicago. Settled in the mid-1800s by Dutch immigrants, Holland grew steadily from the start. A fire in 1871 nearly wiped the town out, but it was soon rebuilt. The surrounding area has a population of about 250,000, and its natural beauty, historical, and man-made attractions make it a very popular tourist destination. “It’s a really nice place to live,” said Kyle.
Kyle has the CRC, and CVE credentials. She was named the Michigan Vocational Evaluator of the Year in 1986, and she received the first Dick Omang Best Practices award from VEWAA in 1995. And Kyle has presented at state and national conferences on various vocational evaluation topics.
When asked about her long-range plans, Kyle said, “I’ve been with the Center for 27 years now, 25 of them as the Vocational Evaluator. I love the work, and I’ll keep doing it for another 25 years, if I can.”