Chris Strout: Making a College-Career Connection

Chris working on car

Chris Strout working as a mechanic's assistant

Chris Strout always liked cars, and he had experience taking care of them. When he was younger, his father showed him how to change the oil and the tires of the family car. Chris thought fixing cars would be a great job, and he was ready to take some auto-mechanics courses. But could he convince everyone else that this made sense for him?

A College-Career Connection

A college-career connection promotes students to take courses related to their career interests, getting them ready for a job that will put those interests to work. This seems pretty simple, but there are a few steps a student must take to make it happen. Students need to know what their career interests are, and they have to be aware of the skills and knowledge a career requires. They also must be prepared to advocate for the courses they need. Students often need to express what they want to academic advisors, and, in some cases, they have to convince course instructors to let them take their classes. In this story, you'll read about how Chris made his college-career connection.

Identify career interests

Chris took a career-interest survey at college, in a seminar called the First Year Experience. This class helps students narrow down their career interests, and teaches them organizational and advocacy skills, so that they can successfully transition from high school to college. With the help of this course, Chris was ready to sign up for the next semester's class. The only problem was that there was no auto mechanics classes on the list of available courses. Enrolling in a car-repair class was going to be a test of Chris' new advocacy skills.

Advocate for courses

With the support of an educational coach, Chris asked his academic advisor why he couldn't sign up for the automotive classes. The advisor said that those classes were not on the list of courses available to first-year students, but that he would talk to the instructor. The instructor said that he had concerns about Chris' safety in the class, but he agreed to meet with Chris to hear about his interest in auto mechanics.

Meet with the instructor

Chris was nervous about meeting with the instructor by himself, but he knew he had to do it. He had to convince the teacher that he would be a good student. Chris spent a few days practicing what he wanted to say to the instructor with his educational coach. He prepared answers to questions he thought he might be asked. When the time came to meet, Chris told the instructor he was prepared to learn, knew how to ask for help when he needed it, and, most importantly, know how to keep safe when working with cars.

Enroll in classes

All that preparation paid off, and Chris was accepted as a student in a beginning auto mechanics class, Steering and Suspension. He audited the class, and took all the quizzes and tests. Since the course included hands-on projects, Chris got help from his classmates when they were assigned to work in groups. Along with many of the other students in the class, Chris enrolled in the Brakes course for the next semester. He audited this course too, and has decided to take both classes again to improve his car-repair skills.

Pairing college and work

And where has all this led Chris? Well, most importantly, it has led him to two jobs that he likes. At the first job, at an auto dealership, Chris worked as a mechanic's assistant. When the requirements of that job changed, Chris decided to look for new work. It didn't take him long to find another job, again as a mechanic's assistant, but this time in a smaller garage. Here, Chris has even more opportunities to put into practice all the skills and knowledge he learned at college. For Chris Strout, the college–career connection really paid off.