Jónína Kárdal2016 Rising Alumni

Jónína Kárdal photo

Jónína Kárdal, who has a master’s in educational psychology, wins the award for traveling the furthest to join us. She lives in Reykjavik and works at the University of Iceland Student Counseling and Career Centre. She is an impressive leader in the field of counseling and career development in her home country of Iceland as well as in Scandinavia and the European Union. Jónína has been active in introducing new methods and practices to strengthen the career development services at her university and implemented training programs for counselors across the region. In short, she has been instrumental in career development becoming a noted and respected profession in her country. In addition, Jónína remains connected to the U of M by chairing our Alumni Chapter in Iceland.


Career and guidance counsellor, University of Iceland, Student Counseling and Career Centre

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

I was hired to the University of Iceland Student Counseling and Career Centre (UISCCC) directly after graduation in 1999 where I have worked since and participated in many different ventures and projects.

The centre offers services to registered and prospected students along with organizing practicum for master students studying career counseling and guidance in co-operation with the masters program at the University of Iceland. I have led the development of the practicum curriculum for our centre - I used the experience I gained through my own practicum at U of MN Student Counseling and Consulting Services have continued its development through the years.

At the time of my graduation there were very few with a masters degree in the field in Iceland and I was particularly interested in career development in higher education. I have led many projects where the goal was to enhance the number of students using the services; for example established lunch bag sessions and the latest is a special Career Development/Career week. I have often been asked to represent the UISCCC in various projects within the U of Iceland connected to student services; establishing freshman week, orientation for international students.

I have represented the University of Iceland in a Nordic specialist group for student administration and career and guidance counseling and have been chairman for the past 5 years.

I was an adjunct instructor for the Master´s programme in Career counseling and guidance at the Univeristy of Iceland from 2011-2015 - called to supervise the part of the curriculum regarding professional development and professional identity.

Am viewed as a national specialist in the use of ICT in counselling - am participating in a Nordic project about that and have been co-supervisor for masters student theses on the subject.

During the years of 2001-2003 I was program coordinator for distance counselor education in Iceland. Majority of students were from around Iceland and from places/towns that didn´t have career and guidance available. Had a very positive graduate outcome.

I was president of the Icelandic Educational and Vocational Association from 2004-2006. There I continued previous work and re-strategized the important task of lobbying at governmental and parliamentary level for the credentialing of the career and guidance counseling job title. This went through parliament in 2009 and has made an impact here in Iceland. Am recognized as a credentialed career and guidance counselor in Iceland.

As president I established a National Career and Guidance Counseling Day - first time held in 2006 - and is important of reminding public and officials about our work as career and guidance counsellors.

During the years as president the framework for the first ethical standards for the association/profession was established, and then formally accepted in 2006/7.

Have presented at an ACA conference (2003) and at an NCDA conference (2005)

Are you involved in any volunteer activities?

I have been the chairperson of the University of Minnesota Alumni chapter in Iceland since 2012. There are quite many Icelanders who have earned their degree from the U of MN. There is quite a strong tie between the Univeristy of Iceland and U of MN - mirrored through an almost 35 year old co-operation.

What honors and awards have you received for your hard work?

The Icelandic Educational and Vocational Association honored me in 2010 - a recognition for my contribution to the field of career/school counseling and guidance in Iceland. This is recognition is awarded annually and started in 2006 with the first National Career Day.

Outside of your job, how do you grow professionally?

I grow through the great professional network I have, made up of friends and colleagues from the U of MN and and colleagues in Iceland. People I have met through projects both sides of the Atlantic. Last year I had a part time sabbatical which allowed me to become a university student again, fifteen years after my masters graduation. It was quite an experience - and all good. I feel that it is a life long mission to reach for knowledge in any form it may come. Going out of the comfort zone.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I trained to become an air traffic controller in my early twenties.

What’s your favorite memory from UMN?

Experiencing the campus life and everything that went with it. Going to a Gophers football match and listing to the marching band. My first year I lived in Centennial Hall which was an experience as I was quite many years older than other residents.

What professors were most influential during your time in CEHD?

I felt that the entire CSPP professors, teachers and staff along with the great experience of doing my practicum at the University Counseling and Consulting Services were most influential and had an impact to my professional development as a future career and guidance counsellor. Have good memories of classes with Pat Veach, Sunny Hansen and John Romano - people that have now retired after very successful careers at CSPP program.

What was the impact/benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

It was a life and career changing experience to gain an education at the CSPP program within CEHD. I gained an opportunity to build a professional identity,use the extensive knowledge acquired and skills practiced to make an impact in higher education, serving students in their venture of making their own career path.

Who has inspired you the most during your career?

My parents first and foremost as they always emphasized the importance of education. I had such wonderful people in the CSPP program and keep contact with many. I am inspired by their work and success. Last but not least the daily inspiration I get through meeting students and taking part in their journey through higher education.

What skills are important to succeed as an emerging professional today?

I think it is important to have a good sense of oneself as a professional and being flexible in all kinds of situations. Using listening and verbal skills - use people skills. Also using skills of resilience and perseverance - not giving up and being innovative in finding solutions.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you spend it?

I am usually very busy with my work and then family. If I have 30 minutes I love to be in peace and quiet - sit in my favorite chair at home and look out the window. Follow the cloud formation which take so many different forms in the Icelandic sky.

Who are you? How would others describe you?

Others may describe me as professionally motivated, innovative and good at building relationship. I see myself as always wanting to reach for more knowledge and understanding. I would say that I am ambitious and always strive to deliver my best.

What is a good book you would recommend to others?

My latest reading - a book in Icelandic: Þar sem vegurinn endar ( Where the road ends) by Hrafn Jökulsson.The book harmonizes with my own memories of being out in the country-side in the northwest of Iceland.

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?

I would like to have coffee with Helen Keller and my grandmother Jónína.

What gets you excited about work?

The idea of being able to implement innovative ways of offering career and guidance to students. Knowing that my work has an impact on so many levels.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a professor. That was in my mind the most prestige job you could get. During my childhood, until 10 years of age, I lived very close to the University of Minnesota. I remember seeing the KSTP tower and knew that THE university was just beyond. My home was often visited by Icelanders studying at the University of Minnesota and l listened to the grown-up conversation which I thought was so exciting.