How Career Design Associates – And Re-Careering – Began

Founded by Career Guru Helen Harkness, Career Design Associates, Inc. has pioneered career management programs, processes and pathfinder presentations since 1978. More on Dr. Harkness here.

Dr. Harkness with a group of career seekers“Freedom is Knowing your Options” is the creed, the fundamental principle and conviction of Dr. Harkness, who says that career change often occurs when the pain of present circumstances exceeds the fear of change. Her short-hand equation for individuals in this predicament is CC = P > F, which means one only changes careers when the pain is greater than the fear of the change itself.

CDA was founded because of Harkness’ extensive research based on Alvin Toffler’s book “Future Shock” (1970) in which Toffler predicted the American workers would change jobs three times in their working life. Sylvia Porter, the author of numerous financial planning books including “Minding Your Money,” predicted job changes 3-5 times in a career.

In 1974 Dr. Harkness changed her Doctorate from English to Higher Education in order to research and complete the first dissertation on career change. She obtained a grant from the Department of Labor and opened a free community based career center in the public library in Garland,Texas, which provided career services to 6,000 individuals.

As an early prognosticator of the coming workplace turmoil, she founded Career Design Associates, Inc. in 1978 and has worked with more than 10,000 clients by looking at the realities of today’s workplace in light of her intuitive eye for what’s next. Today’s typical client can be either a recent college graduate or a “Baby Boomer”. While everyone seems to be looking for more meaning from life, Boomers are more likely to be looking for a way to move “from misery to meaning at midlife.”

“More than every before, if your career is not under your control, you are headed for an immediate crisis,” says Dr. Harkness, who’s new model is called the “Yo-Yo ” model — “You’re On Your Own!”

Having experienced and survived her own career and future shock and chaos in the early 1970s, she designed her programs to teach adults —at every age, career and educational level— how to work and thrive in the current age of constant change and complexity.

Harkness’ clients say she is more than a career coach. She is a friend, confidant, encourager and also known to gently, yet firmly, light a fire under those who need it.