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Assessing Yourself and Exploring Career and Educational Options

Career development is an ongoing process consisting of a continuum of stages including assessing yourself and exploring career and educational options.

Assessing Yourself

The first stage in exploring majors and planning for your career is to assess yourself: your interests, skills, abilities, strengths, personality and values. The following are suggestions to help you with the self-assessment process.

1. Make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss your interests, plans and/or concerns.

2. Take career assessments in Career and Internship Services.

3. Take free assessments on the Career and Internship Services website.

4. Identify your skills. There are three types of skills: transferable, self-management and special knowledge. Transferable skills are skills you may use in many occupations, regardless of the type of work and thus can transfer from one type of work to another. Self-management skills refer to those behaviors you develop to cope with the people and conditions in your environment. Special knowledge skills are those skills you develop to master a specific body of knowledge related to a particular activity.

The Transferable Skills activity can be used to help you identify some of your transferable and self-management skills.

To identify additional skills, make a list of the following: your work and volunteer experiences, activities you enjoy and your educational experiences. Once you have identified the activities, list the skills you used for each and identify the ones you most enjoyed using.

5. Identify your academic strengths and list courses in which you have done well. In what tasks do you believe you are competent or do very well (e.g., writing papers, taking essay tests, summarizing written materials, working with numerical figures, conducting research in a lab, participating in or leading group discussions)?

6. The following is a list of common career values. Rank order the list using “1” as the most important.

___ Job security

___ Problem solving

___ Receiving sufficient training and supervision

___ Creativity

___ Working with your hands

___ Salary and benefits

___ High sense of achievement

___ Professional development

___ Working with people

___ Independence

___ Routine activity

___ Variety

___ Work environment

___ Physical activity

___ Leadership

___ Advancement

___ Location

___ Helping others

___ Flexible schedule

___ Diversity

___ Recognition

___ Status

Exploring Career and Educational Options

Once you have completed your self-assessment, your next step is to explore occupations. You can then make decisions about which careers best fit your interests, values, skills, strengths and abilities. The following suggestions may assist you in your career exploration:

  • Consult with a career counselor.
  • Research careers related to your interests.
  • Conduct informational interviews or career shadow professionals working in your field(s) of interest.
  • Perform volunteer work in your field(s) of interest.
  • Attend job fairs.
  • Try out a career by obtaining a part-time and/or summer job consistent with your interests.