Who Am I?
The career exploration process begins with you. You may be wondering, where exactly am I in the process? If I don't know where I am, how do I proceed? Or, I know where I want to go but how do I get there?
Below are areas you need to consider during your career exploration process. Read through the information, then complete this exercise: Exercise 1 [pdf] . We recommend you set up an appointment with a CDO staff member to discuss your findings.
Have you ever gotten so immersed in an activity that you lost track of time? Think about your classes, activities, volunteer experiences, projects, internships, or pastimes. Recognizing your interests will give direction to your exploration and research. Here are several ways to discover your interests:
- Chat with professors, family, friends of your family, and alumni about their careers. This is what networking is all about.
- Take interest and personality assessments.
- Conduct an informational interview with someone in an industry you think you might be interested in.
- Do an internship! You may find your niche and if not, remember that finding out what you don't like is just as important as finding out what you do like.
Where do your priorities lie? Consider both intrinsic and extrinsic values: Intrinsic values pertain to the actual tasks involved in the work itself (e.g. I want my work to primarily be about helping people), and extrinsic values are byproducts of a particular work (e.g. I want to be able to earn a lot of money).
Skills are the foundation most employers seek. Most students concentrate on just the job-related skills, like writing code or editing video. However, employers are also looking for self-management skills (are you reliable, tactful, punctual, assertive, etc.?) and transferable skills (acquired in different contexts but relevant and applicable to what you want to do in your new job). The CDO can help you identify the skills you have acquired through various activities such as internships, student organizations, volunteer work, class projects, sports, hobbies, and study abroad, just to name some.
You can do any type of work, with any type of personality. Sort of. Understanding your unique traits can help you think about how your personality might influence your job search behavior, your career choices, your work behavior, and your general happiness on the job.
Your unique life circumstances might involve people whose lives would also be impacted by your career development and decisions. Your unique financial circumstances may also affect how you feel about certain careers. We strongly encourage you to bring this up as you work with your counselor because we recognize that your unique set of circumstances might be just as important to consider as you move forward in your career planning.
Make a Plan of Action
On one page, write down three things that fit into each of the above categories (three interests, three values, three skills, etc.). Now pull out another piece of paper or create a new document and write down your current age on the top left side of the page. On the right side, write where you are in life (e.g., first year at Pomona College with undeclared major). Down the left side of the page, write your age every five years until retirement. Down the right side, write where you want to be at that age career-wise, location-wise, etc. keeping your first piece of paper in mind. What do you want to have accomplished by the time you retire? Where do you want to be personally and financially? Now, what do you need to do to get there?