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Your journey starts here

Explore Careers

Career Exploration is a cycle of learning what you are and are not interested in pursuing for a major and/or career. It is a process you will repeat many times both in school and after graduating. Exploration takes into account your values, interests, strengths, skills, and identity. 

Self-Reflect

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Determine wants and needs

Before deciding on career options that align well with your values, interests, skills, and goals, determine what those interests and goals are. Create a list of your personal values and interests. 

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Examples of Values

Work-life balance
Positive work environment
Leadership opportunities
Job/Financial security
Prestige
Variety
Independence
High income
Leisure time

Examples of Interests

Travel
Volunteering
Art
Problem-solving
Reading
Technology
Sports
Cooking

After creating a list, rank what items you feel are non-negotiable and what you would like to have. This can be helpful when you’re examining career options or deciding between two or more options. You may find that one is a closer match than another.

Investigate

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Once you have articulated what is important to you and your goals, it is time to start learning about what career opportunities are available to you and how they align.

Research pathways and skills

Research careers of interest to learn about the various pathways available and common skills or experiences needed to enter and/or succeed in the profession. 

Determine which pathways to further investigate. Create a list of potential pathways and evaluate your level of interest and strengths or skills alignment with each. This can give you points of comparison and help you determine which opportunities are the most appealing.

Consider how your own strengths and skills align with each pathway. Learning about careers that use your current or natural skills can be a helpful starting point in determining long-term career success and happiness. Examples of strengths to consider include creativity, emotional intelligence, organization, problem-solving, attention to detail, teamwork/collaboration, communication, leadership, public speaking, critical thinking, or a technical skill in your field.

Engage with people in the field

Learn from the pros through informal conversations.
One way to learn about a career is to speak with professionals who are (or were) in the field. Reach out to a contact or friend who works in a career path of interest, and ask to have an informal conversation about their experiences. They can provide insight into what it’s like working in that field day-to-day, as well as trends, challenges, and even potential leads for an internship or job.

Take a tour
If you’re curious about what type of work environment your career option(s) provide, or want to envision yourself working there, taking a tour of a work site can be a helpful way to learn more. Some employers provide tours to prospective employees, or you might consider a “job shadow” where you pair with a professional in the field to observe them in their day-to-day work. The Career Center also coordinates career treks bringing a group of students to a particular site.

Find connections
Don’t know anyone in your field(s) of interest? Don’t worry. We have many helpful resources.

Experience

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Seeking out opportunities for applied learning within your field of interest will help advance your skills, understanding of the field, and ability to make well-informed career decisions.

Gain Experience

There are various ways to gain in-depth, hands-on experience such as internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, and research. To see a full list of ways to gain experience, visit our Gain Experience section. 

Think about the future

Understand your chosen career pathway’s current and future prospects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net both use economic data to make career projections  and estimate the growth or decline of professions over a 10-year period. While stability and longevity can be an important aspect in determining a career, economic shifts can change the outlook of a profession. It is also important to keep your values and interests in mind.