Bloomington business guides young adults toward viable career paths



Like many future college students, Will Bean of Burnsville isn’t quite sure where his career path will lead him.

The Blake School senior knows where he will be going to college this fall. He will be attending the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. He’s a baseball player, and he plans to be continue playing as a member of the Tommies baseball team. That’s the easy part.

Deciding what career path to follow? That hasn’t been so easy. His athletic director at Blake didn’t have the answer for him either, but he had a suggestion, and it sent Bean to Bloomington for help.

Bean recently sought offers academic and career advice from Trailhead Consulting, a Bloomington-based company that specializes in providing guidance to pre-college, college and post-college young adults seeking a greater understanding of their strengths, opportunities and passions.

Founded by a father-daughter duo, Trailhead Consulting aims to provide a solution to a recurring issue that the father has identified through his extensive travels, utilizing his daughter’s background in psychology at a time when she was experiencing a career obstacle of her own.

Lack of direction

Charlie Ruhl has spent nearly four decades in business and recently retired as a real estate executive. Through his travels, he’d meet people working in the service industry who appeared to be under-utilizing their talents. He’d ask people if they were happy with what they were doing, and he’d often hear the same response.

“I don’t know what I want to do,” he explained.

In many cases, he was speaking with a college graduate who had yet to find an appropriate, satisfying career path, despite the diploma he or she had received. It was a struggle he could relate to personally.

Ruhl’s daughter Sissy struggled to find the right career path for her, despite her many talents. She had changed majors while in college, and with indecision hanging over her head, Charlie took her to see a consultant in Chicago, where she spent two days going through a battery of tests and assessments, all in the hope of gaining a better understanding of her strengths and passions.

“That didn’t work,” he said.

With the seed planted in his mind for years, Charlie seized the opportunity that retirement from the real estate industry offered. He began crafting a business that catered to high school students and young adults seeking career direction. He had ideas about how to build such a business and was no stranger to building a business.

But, he also knew he would need help overseeing the business operations once the pieces were in place. And that’s where his daughter entered the picture.

“I wanted to be sure I found a really capable and competent partner who is as passionate about it as I am,” he said.

Her background is in psychology, but Sissy was working in retail staffing and management on the east coast. She enjoyed the training aspect of her job, but she didn’t consider the work she was doing to be leading her down a career path. When her father invited her to join him in developing Trailhead Consulting, she saw it as an opportunity to utilize her skills by doing something she loved, working with people on an individual basis.

There were many decisions to be made before the company opened for business. Research and demographics suggested the Twin Cities would be a good fit for their business, and there was some advantage to being in the Twin Cities. The family is from Iowa, but has several Twin Cities connections, although neither Charlie nor Sissy was living in Minnesota when they were studying market demographics.

More important, they needed an assessment tool that would provide the foundation that they would build upon with their clients. Charlie knew the perfect tool, the Caliper Profile. The profile is a scientific instrument for in-depth personality assessment and job matching, and Charlie had used it with great satisfaction throughout his business career. If it worked in the business world, it should work for students and graduates trying to find a career path, he reasoned.

So the duo built its program around the Caliper Profile. Sissy completed a certification program for analyzing the assessment test. The test doesn’t measure intelligence or abilities. Rather, it reveals attributes that motivate a person’s behavior, such as empathy, sociability and ego strength, she explained.

Those results, combined with a pre-interview, help Sissy analyze career options available to a client. Beyond reviewing potential career paths that would match the client’s profile, Sissy also gathers career information, such as the educational requirements for the career and U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics pertaining to the career, including the typical salary range and job opportunities available, she said.

The results range from at least three to as many as seven career options. After a discussion about the options, the client is encouraged to interview a person working in one or more of the career paths, or shadow the person in their job, she added.

The post-profile meeting varies a bit, depending upon the client’s situation. For a college graduate, “We have to figure out how to use what they already have,” Sissy noted.

Between the pre-assessment interview, the profile test and the post-assessment meeting, clients can expect to spend at least four hours. Beyond those steps, clients are offered a follow-up meeting in the future to discuss their progress in establishing a career path and the challenges they’re experiencing in pursuing a career path, Sissy explained.

Bean is still considering his options at St. Thomas, but he has new career options he’s considering as a result of the Trailhead assessment. Bean’s options were tailored to fit the degree programs offered specifically at St. Thomas since he is committed to attending school there, he noted.

Social work was one of the recommendations he received, and it wasn’t a career he had given thought to, he said. His compassion and empathy for others, as revealed in the assessment, indicated social work was a career option worth exploring.

With his freshman year at college several months away, Bean hasn’t had to decide what career path he wants to pursue, but he has greater confidence in his ability to make that decision, calling the Trailhead assessment “a very helpful opportunity for me.”

The assessment is $1,650, all inclusive, and the service is offered at half price for a client’s siblings. Financing is available, Sissy said.

Information about Trailhead Consulting’s services is available online at