Perhaps you’re in college and you have some career goals in mind, or you’re seeking advancement in a field you are already familiar with… or just know you want a change.
How do you know where to go next? Career exploration is a great first step to research the possibilities and develop a few initial ideas about fields that will be a good fit for you.
There’s a good discussion going on in a career counseling LinkedIn Group right now that was sparked by a question about career exploration materials. Group members have been adding their recommendations to a growing list and I was glad to see that a lot of these resources are not only online, but also free.
Take a look at this short list of the tools available to help you identify your work interests, abilities, and values… as well as learn about how these components factor into your review of the current labor market.
This site from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration offers a wealth of exploration options, including an interest profiler. Respond to a series of 60 short questions to help determine the type of work you are interested in doing. Your preferences are then categorized into “job zones” to identify potential careers for further research, as well as the experience, education, and training they may require.
What Can I Do with a Major in … ?
Many students – online and IRL, graduate and undergraduate – pick their initial area of study based on personal interest, then work to match that with potential careers. Sites like the one featured from MyPlan.com are designed to help you make this connection. If you think you might want to build on education you’ve already completed, this may be a good place to start your exploration.
Career Values Test
Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team? Have your favorite jobs in the past involved working on a variety of projects? This online card sort exercise from placement executives Stewart, Cooper, and Coon allows you to prioritize your values as they relate to careers and work. Use your results and the related exercise to learn more about how understanding your values, and including them in your career decisions, can positively impact job satisfaction.
Ever wonder what it might be like to work in a new field? Online career profiles are the next best thing to conducting informational interviews. You can find these on sites such as CareerOneStop.org. Look for presentations that include job descriptions and titles, videos, and more to learn about these jobs directly from people already working in these kinds of positions.
Are employers in your field hiring? The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a wealth of information online, including searchable data about projected employment growth. Your exploration should include finding out the demand for workers in your fields of interest. You can also use this database and others like PayScale.com to find out more about the salaries you might expect.
Career exploration can become overwhelming, especially if you are truly unsure about what to do next… so your on-campus career services should be part of your plan. Talk with an advisor familiar with both your program’s requirements and the current dynamics of the workforce; they will surely help make sense of the results you find in these online materials.
Arm yourself with the information you’ll need to make the big career decisions ahead of you. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be making the choices to move you forward.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at OnlineCollege.org!
About the Author: Melissa Venable, PhD is an Education Writer for OnlineCollege.org. Melissa’s background includes work in higher education – private, public, and for-profit – as an instructional designer and curriculum developer. Melissa is also an experienced instructor, academic advisor and career counselor. She is actively involved in research related to online education and the support of online students. Her work has been published in The Career Development Quarterly, TechTrends, the Journal of Computing in Higher Education. Follow Melissa on Twitter!