Aluma Group Helps People Find Careers

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter Knowledgeable business consultants say that the ability to draw upon personal experience helps immeasurably in starting a new business.

Steve Porter felt that way, too. But his personal experiences were not related to business.

Still that hasn't hampered his efforts to help high school and college students, and people facing a mid-life career change, to determine best career choices. His company also helps students determine what educational choices they must make to reach career goals.

Porter founded the Aluma Group, 425 W. Wilshire Blvd., in January to provide aptitude and interest testing, along with educational and career counseling, and since that time has served "between 30 and 40 clients," he said.

"Too many people go into careers haphazardly out of college or school and probably would be happier and more satisified with life if they could find a career which they could enjoy," said Porter, who majored in broadcast journalism at the University of Oklahoma and became an investment banker out of college.

"The problem is there is not enough aptitude and interest testing, as well as counseling, available to help people make those choices.

"If people know what they are good at and really understand their interests, then they can establish career goals and plan an educational program to help them achieve those goals." But it's not as simple as one would have you believe.

To begin with, aptitude testing is an expensive process, which means it's done on the high school level only on a limited basis. Interest testing is almost unheard of in public schools.

After aptitude and interest tests have been administered, analyzed and reviewed, it takes a trained counselor to talk with a student and explain all the ramifications of the test results. Because of larger student populations, counselors more and more often find themselves facing workloads which are hard to handle, just with the routine of everyday school activities and social problems which crop up. Not all of them can carry the extra workload of studying and interpreting test results.

That's where companies like the Aluma Group come in.

These companies offer testing, analysis and counseling to high school students so they can start planning their academic careers.

"Really the best time to test someone is in their sophomore year," Porter said. "That way they start planning, even determining which high school classes and extracurricular activities to take. Then when they get to college, they will know more about what to major in.

"In most cases, we can even help the students determine which colleges and universities offer the best programs in their particular fields." The Aluma Group was not formed because of high school programs, however. It came about because Porter himself felt the need for a career change.

"I guess you could say I'm one of those people who wandered into a career unprepared, just fell into it without realizing what I wanted to do with my life." Porter was a member of the OU track team, competing in the quarter-mile run and mile-relay events, while majoring in broadcast journalism in the early 1970s.

"In my senior year, I began to wonder what kind of career I was going to have. There were no job offers in journalism; I really didn't know what else I wanted to do, and it was almost time for me to graduate. I wasn't prepared for it." Then, during the Big 8 track meet, Porter met a vice president of Fidelity Bank in Oklahoma City who said he was looking for bright young people for the investment banking department. That department was being enlarged, and the bank was looking for people who could be trained for that job.

That was in 1975.

"Since I didn't have a job, I felt `why not?,' so I accepted," Porter said. "It was fun. I learned a lot and enjoyed it and made a good living. …