The first step in identifying career possibilities involves looking internally to identify key interests, values, skills, priorities, personality, work style, and environment issues that are critical to your work satisfaction.
Interests can range from the general (e.g. I like to write) to the specific (I am interested in women’s health care). Consider these questions when self-assessing your interests:
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What are the most interesting jobs you can think of?
- What kinds of things would you do if money were no object?
Values are, simply put, what is important to you. Some sample values are:
- Change and Variety
- Helping Others
- Intellectual Stimulation
- Power and Authority
- Public Contact
- Time Freedom
- Working Alone
No one can tell you what your skills are–you must be reflective about the experiences that you have had in order to know what skills you possess. Think about these things:
- What skills and activities come naturally to you?
- What skills do you enjoy using?
- What skills would you like to develop?
- What skills do employers desire?
PUC offers a range of assessment tools that can help you organize your interests, articulate your strengths and weaknesses, and ascertain where like-minded people are working. Below are a few of the assessments available to you during this process:
- What Can I Do With This Major? – Tool used to connect majors to careers
- Do What You Are – On-line assessment tool used to determine a student’s personality type and attitudes towards career direction
- Counseling Center and Career Assessment – This link will connect you to Purdue University Calumet’s Counseling Center
Explore and Research Options
The second step is to explore and research the work world around you to see jobs, careers, and work options that are available. By reviewing these considerations, you will make a more informed decision about your next step.
Exploring takes your self-assessment a step further by looking at your personal interests, skills, values, and work-life needs and narrowing down areas of possibilities. Here are some suggestions and resources to help you explore.
- Take a workshop or class to help identify what is important to you and where your interests really lie
- Check our career resource materials
- Occupational Outlook Handbook- The Occupational Outlook Handbook, the government’s premier publication on career guidance, provides essential information about hundreds of occupations
- ONET- Find concise occupational information on over 950 jobs
- Meet with a career counselor in the Counseling Center
- Check out job postings on CareerTrax
- Conduct Informational Interviews, job shadow, and/or volunteer in a field of interest
- Find out more about job requirements and proficiencies
Reflect and Decide
Along the way of assessing and exploring you will be making decisions. Think through what is important in your life and in your work. Get a clear sense of your priorities, values, roles, expectations, and preferred balance between work, other roles, and obligations to yourself and others. The most important question to ask is “How will I decide to decide?” What will you use as your criteria to evaluate your options and your experiences?
Some other questions to consider:
- Have I fully considered and narrowed down, to the best of my ability, my interests, values, and skills?
- Have I explored careers beyond the surface?
- Have I reflected on how my experiences fit my interests, values, and skills?
- Have I gathered enough information to feel comfortable making a decision?
- How much information do I need to gather to make a decision?
- Have I challenged assumptions or myths that I may hold about certain careers or the career decision-making process itself?
What works for one person may not work for everyone. Here are some additional ideas. Which ones work for you?
- Discuss your interests with trusted friends and family members
- Go on a personal retreat
- Meet with an academic advisor, career consultant or counselor, or professor
- Find a mentor
- Take some electives, volunteer, or intern to strengthen the decision
Develop Your Plan and Take Action
After you decide on a direction, you are ready to develop your plan and take action. The career planning process is ongoing and bi-directional, meaning you can move back to previous steps when you need to gather more information or clarify your choices. Once you have identified an occupation to pursue you should develop a career action plan.
A career action plan helps you navigate career direction. Think of it like a map that will get you from point A-choosing an occupation-to Point B-becoming employed in that occupation. It even helps you get past Point B to Points C through Z as you grow in that career. It is also referred to as an Individualized (or Individual) Career Plan or an Individualized (or Individual) Career Development Plan.
You should break your career plan down into goals you can reach in a year or less and goals you want to reach in five years or less. You can use increments of one or two years in this five year plan, as well. This breakdown will make your plan easier for you to follow.
Back to the Self Assessment, Career Exploration and Planning page.