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Institute Helps People Make Choices, Changes in a Volatile Market : Careers: A computer matches a client’s strengths, interests and personalities with jobs.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; <i> Hitchcock is a Los Angeles-based free-lance writer</i>

In an era when many businesses are in crisis, people need to protect themselves careerwise--whether you’re an aerospace engineer in a threatened company, a career woman who has hit the corporate glass ceiling or a student trying to decide among a bewildering smorgasbord of college majors what field to pursue.

The Warner Center-based Success Training Institute specializes in helping people like these make career choices and changes. The institute was founded in 1979 by Mary Anne Rust, who said she abandoned a master of fine arts degree program in sculpture to become a clinical psychologist because she preferred working with live people. She has spent the last decade developing a computerized system that matches a client’s strengths, interests and personalities with careers designed to grow with the changing times.

Two factors distinguish Rust’s program, testing and a service that analyzes the ever-changing job market.

Testing covers five interest and personality areas and includes Rust’s custom-designed “Leisure Time” test. The results of these tests are integrated into her copyrighted Blueprint for Career Success, which highlights a client’s talents and self-defeating patterns and ways to overcome them. The client’s overall quality of life is considered in the Creative Leisure Section, which balances work choices against a person’s physical, cultural, social and spiritual needs, she said.

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The second service is the career-related Data Bases, which is updated every six months to add new technologies and delete glutted or low-paying fields. Rust analyzes consumer trends, where companies are moving and what companies are coming up by studying more than 20 publications and consulting experts in a variety of fields.

Roger Sward, director and president of Behaviordyne, a major test publisher, said Rust “covers all areas of personality needed to make a tight recommendation and really integrates test results. She measures interests, personality and aptitude against real schools, courses and companies, and tries to weed out jobs that won’t be here in five years.”

“The market should not be the determinant,” said Pamela Paduano, career counselor at Career Prep Enterprises in Brea. “If you’re the best, you’ll succeed.”

Rust’s writer/director husband, John, said some clients even bring in their children who are 16 and older for a career blueprint. Rust has two reports that can locate, from 428 undergraduate majors and 500 graduate school majors, the course of study most closely allied to a student’s interests and aptitudes. She also shows them how to get college loans. “The best schools are affordable by anybody. There are even loans for living expenses,” Rust said.

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The Blueprint’s Creative Leisure Section balances the pressures of school and grades with a student’s most relaxing electives and extracurricular activities.

Rust said she shares the concerns of a number of experts who believe that the economy may be on the brink of a recession. Her company’s strength, she said, is in developing an integrated, computerized system to change the databases on a moment’s notice if a whole industry should go down. For example, five years ago, in anticipation of a soft real estate market, she said she began moving real estate salespeople into such growing fields as telecommunications.

Recent Rust clients have included a 60-year-old aerospace engineer who needed help in a shrinking industry. Rust suggested that he update his appearance to offset any possible age discrimination and advised him to get additional training in biomedical engineering, which he could eventually do part time or on contract. “She knew which companies weren’t good or didn’t support my aptitudes,” the engineer said.

Rust charges $1,100 for a comprehensive Blueprint, testing and counseling sessions. The entire process takes three to four weeks.

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Christine Thranow, career counselor at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and former dean of students at Loyola Marymount University, sampled the tests at Rust’s request and found that they help clients focus and eliminate guessing.

“I’m just in awe of how she pinpointed facets of my personality,” said Denise Rucinski, a 30-year-old journalism major who found her public relations job unchallenging. Her Success Blueprint showed that she might be better suited for sales work. Rucinski has subsequently found a sales position with a telecommunications firm.

“Something was missing, but I wasn’t able to recognize what. Dr. Rust’s experience in clinical psychology was extremely helpful,” she said.

“We look for well-paying jobs with a good future in the client’s interest range, as well as the future financial situation of our clients,” Rust said.

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“By revealing talents and capabilities within myself, the testing renewed by self-confidence,” said Janice Dunn, founder of Adept Consumer Testing and a Rust client.

Through Rust’s counseling, Dunn discovered that she was in the right business with the wrong partner. Now Dunn has a new partner, Mark Tobias, and together they run Adept, a market research company with offices in Encino and Beverly Hills.

Rust urges working people to track Financial World’s and Business Week’s quarterly reviews the way many people do baseball scores to find out how financially solid companies and industries are, and to see if their careers are becoming obsolete. Getting additional training is another survival technique, she said.


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