Exploring Careers

Explore

Many students feel pressured to find the "right" career, and often feel stressed because they haven't found it already.  The question, "What do I want to do with the rest of my life?" is an awfully large one; therefore, we encourage students to plan their careers in smaller, more manageable steps.  The reality is, you'll probably change careers several times throughout your working life, as your values, interests, personality traits, and skills continue to develop over time.  The most important step as you begin is to know how to learn about different industries and occupations - a skill that you will use over and over again.  Here are several helpful places to start your exploration:

  • O*NET: O*NET, funded by the U. S. Department of Labor, lets you explore careers by using a guided menu of descriptors, job families, industries, and disciplines. It also has a Skills Search option that can be a fun way to generate lists of potential jobs.
  • Assessments: The Career Center offers several assessments that may help you clarify your interests, personality traits, and strengths, and connect them with occupations that may be a good fit.

Research

Researching different occupations, industries, and emerging career paths will help you make informed decisions about your future.  You want to know going in what issues and changes may be occurring in a particular career field: is the field growing/shrinking? What salary can I expect to make starting out? What type of educational preparation will I need? What will the occupation look like on a day-to-day basis?

To find the answers to the above and other questions, there are a number of resources you can use, listed below.

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook:  Published online and in-print by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the OOH provides detailed information about thousands of different career fields in the U.S.  This is a terrific place to start your research, and will help you answer a number of questions you may have about a particular field.
  • Professional Associations:  Most career fields have national associations/organizations in place to promote their particular field.  These associations often set the professional standards for people working in a career field, provide information on that field, and promote networking opportunities, conferences, and job opportunities.  Weddle's provides a solid directory of professional associations you can use to find an association dedicated to your career field(s) of interest.
  • Experiential Research:  One of the absolute best ways to learn about a career field is to connect with professionals who actually work in that field.  Typical ways to do this include informational interviews, job shadowing, and externships.  We also provide a number of opportunities for students to connect with professionals from different industries through our Networking Nights series.
Kim Whalen, Research Librarian, has put together a fantastic online career research guide through the Christopher Center website, which includes many other helpful online resources.