Wayzata father-daughter team Charles and Sissy Ruhl are helping high school, college and post-college students answer the age-old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? At the Ruhls’ academic and career advising firm, Trailhead Consulting, their services help individuals identify their strengths and passions to find their paths.
The concept for the company came from personal experience as Sissy struggled to figure out what to do after college. As a parent, Charles was underwhelmed by the available options to help people like her.
“We began to evaluate what I was going through, and I quickly realized I wasn’t the only one going through this; there were thousands of young adults with similar struggles,” says Sissy. “It wasn’t because they didn’t have potential or opportunities, but they didn’t have the guidance they needed.”
“It’s hard to see kids enter college and think they know what they really want to do, and then they change their mind and lose credits. That’s expensive for whoever is paying for school,” adds Charles. “You can make up our fee in spades just by getting on the right track from the beginning.”
Trailhead is certified to use Caliper assessments, which are in-depth personality and career-fit tests. “Caliper is the gold standard for profile assessments,” says Charles, who previously used the assessments in his career as a real estate executive.
“There are a ton of profile assessments out there. Some are online, some are free and they vary in quality,” says Sissy. “What they all lack is, they don’t have someone there to tell you how to use the results. That was the missing key, and we want to be that resource.”
Trailhead offers a two-part service, which includes a customized assessment from Caliper to help clients identify strengths and passions, as well as a 60- to 90-minute interview to determine likes, dislikes, and past work and school experience. The combined results are interpreted and clients are provided with detailed feedback, including a list of career options and helpful details on how to get to that career, including a general job description, metrics on salary, job market, expected duties, educational qualifications or internship requirements.
Clients can use their results with college advisors to ensure they’re taking the right classes, or as a part of their portfolio in interviews to demonstrate they are suited for a particular position. They also have access to a 30-minute follow-up session.
“The core of our business is the guidance we provide. Our clients leave with the confidence to move forward, knowing jobs they would be qualified for and happy doing,” says Sissy.
Sherry Mjaanes of Wayzata recently sought services for her son Luke, who is starting the college application process. “He does not have a clear idea of areas he would like to pursue in college and seemed frustrated by not having a direction,” says Mjaanes. “I do believe that it can be helpful to get a data-driven perspective on areas of study that might best fit their individual interests and personal attributes. Our children like to get perspectives other than those of their parents, so getting feedback that is based on information they have directly provided was valuable for all of us.”
“It helped me understand more of who I am as a person, what my strengths are, and what I am interested in,” says Luke Mjaanes. “It has given me a better idea of some areas to focus on the next year or so before I get to college to make sure I am really interested. It will also help as I look at colleges to be able to focus on schools that have good programs and opportunities in the areas that I’m interested in.”