Career Development

Regardless of one’s major field of study, Career Development is an ongoing, multi-stage process that does not stop when you declare your academic major during your freshman or sophomore year.  This ongoing process of development includes several key stages, each as important as the next.  Through following these guidelines, you can begin to explore and develop your own career identity and how your skills, traits, and values will relate to the world of work.


Choosing a major or career involves research on jobs, industry areas, career paths and self exploration. If you are undecided about a college major, take time to explore your values and preferences.  A good start is by questioning:   What do you enjoy doing? What are your strengths, weaknesses and skill sets? Prepare a personal inventory by looking at interests and values and experiences that you have enjoyed. Review and begin a general assessment of who you are and what is important to you.

Interests: People are drawn to certain physical and mental activities. Start by asking yourself what do you enjoy the most? The activities you gravitate to and engage in are important clues in identifying the elements/qualities you may desire in a career. In fact, most people who enjoy their work have some intrinsic interest in the activities they must perform. In preparing for a career; it may be time to explore your interests informally as suggested or formally via a Career Inventory.

Strong Interest Inventory (SII)

The Strong Interest Inventory measures your level of interest in occupational areas, activities, school subjects and work environments, then compares your interests with working professionals in a wide variety of occupations.

Skills: Skills in the work world are your talents, abilities and aptitudes that are marketable in the job market. The average person has around 800 skills they use on a daily basis. Your most basic skills and talents may be right under your nose. Identifying these skills and abilities is an important element to making career decisions; knowing how to develop them in relation to the job market and your career is essential to your life long career planning.

Skill Scan

This card sort inventory will help you identify, label and rank order your strengths and skill preferences. In addition, it helps you identify skill-sets you can transfer to a variety of different jobs. The prioritizing skills identified from this exercise can assist with decisions about career direction, help to develop new skills needed for securing a job, advancement and or career change, and aid with planning, writing résumés and interviewing.

Personality: To a large degree, career happiness comes from inward influences.   We need to learn to focus more on the inward influences that influence our career choices.  Your personality can be an important indicator in choosing what you will most enjoy studying and/or pursuing as a career. What are you like? What are your internal strengths? What obstacles and challenges do you face?

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The MBTI is based on Carl Jung’s personality theory.  The MBTI helps identify your personality preferences in four distinct categories:  1. how you focus your attention and energy, 2. how you acquire or gather information, 3. how you make decisions, or make judgments, and 4. how you relate to the outer world. Knowing and understanding your personality preferences can help you make career choices consistent with what is most interesting and satisfying to you.

Values: Matching values and career choices is an often overlooked aspect of career planning.   How do you feel about your work and the contribution it makes to society? People who pursue work that is congruent with their values generally are more satisfied and successful in their chosen field.

Values Exercise

The Values Exercise helps you identify personal life values and work related values. It helps you understand what is really important to you. Knowing your values is essential in making successful career choices.

Exploring Your Options

There are countless ways to manage the exploration of your career frontier, and the more you explore, the more information you will likely obtain. The online resource links, located at will get you started.

Making a Decision

Approximately 2 out of every 3 students change their majors at least once.  In addition, some people change their career fields six or seven times in their lifetimes. If you are unsure or are experiencing anxiety about your career choice making, meeting with a career counselor may be a good start. If you are experiencing trouble making a decision or are experiencing anxiety about making your choice, this may be a good time to collect the information you have and schedule an appointment with a career counselor. Your career decisions should be based on:

Career Paths: There are many career paths associated with your major for you to choose from. Create choices for yourself and consider your major carefully. Also develop your résumé, network and get experience through internships, student organizations part time work, etc.

Prioritization: No job offer or career will be perfect. Prioritize the things you value (such as location, salary, benefits, hours, etc.) and keep them in mind when making a decision. Career Counseling/Advising can make this process easier.

Evaluating Your Choices

The decision-making and self-exploration processes don’t end at graduation. The professional world has its share of ups, downs and changes, too.

Classroom Experience: As was stated earlier, 70 percent of students change their major at least once. The classes for your chosen major may sound interesting on paper, but may be very different once you are enrolled in them. In most cases your major will not lead you directly to a career, so it makes sense to study something interesting and that you enjoy. If this requires a change of your major, explore your options.

Work Experience: Professional experiences may differ from your classroom experiences. Remember that the average person changes career fields six or s even times during their career lifetime. You may find a career that meets all of your needs, but the company may not. Perhaps the culture of your organization or the required lifestyle is not satisfying. You can take the knowledge and experiences gained and apply them to another position or a different field all together.

Personal Changes: Your own needs, interests and values may change over time and may affect your career. You may want more challenge or responsibility. Life circumstances or an industry changes may force you to make a career change.

Take an inventory of your needs and values from time to time and compare them to your current career. If they are being met, you will probably be content in that particular position for a while. If not, you may want to explore the importance of the unmet need(s) and consider if and how you want to make changes. The course of your career can be very dynamic. If you can anticipate the changes, find some level of comfort with indecision, and attempt to acknowledge the normality of the situation, it can make transition points easier to manage.