Career exploration and planning is the process of clarifying career and employment options that fit your interests and skills and reviewing the core elements of the job search process to help you get where you want to go!
Career Planning Process
It is important to be ready with a plan with a set of career goals, strategies and options based on your interests, personality, values and skills. Once you have a plan, you will be equipped to manage your career and take advantage of changes in the economy and job market rather than becoming a victim of change.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PLANNING AND MANAGING YOUR CAREER?
Planning your career is totally your responsibility. It is up to you to do the planning and take the necessary actions to obtain the education and training that will support your career plans. However, you can get help. For example, your advisor or career counselor can advise you about:
- Your career planning strategy
- How to find information you need
- How to get around obstacles
- How to go about planning your current and long-term education and training
Keep in mind, throughout your life, you are the one who must make all the decisions about your career and produce the results that support your goals. It’s up to you to control and navigate your own destiny.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF ASSESSMENT
Understanding yourself is a critical aspect of career and educational exploration and planning. The more you know about your career-related interests, values, skills, personality type and preferences, the better equipped you will be to identify the career fields, major areas of study and training programs, and education pathways that are compatible with your personal attributes.
Your Work Interests are a reflection of the kinds of work-related activities and tasks you most enjoy doing.
Your Personality Type is a description of how you react to certain situations and people and how you make decisions, organize information and solve problems.
Your Values are a description of what is most important to you in life. For example, you might value earning a lot of money, helping other people, being creative and artistic, having a secure and steady job, etc.
Your Skills are a reflection of your talents and the activities you easily learn and perform well.
THE BIG PICTURE: YOUR LIFE PLAN
It is a good idea to plan your career based on the big picture, that is, your life plan. Ask yourself, “What kind of life do I want to lead?” As you can imagine, your career decisions will dramatically impact your lifestyle. Your occupation will influence your: income, work hours, travel, job security, colleagues and friends, leisure time & where you live.
Questions you need to ask yourself about your life plan are:
- What principles am I committed to as a person? i.e., family, security, prestige, accomplishments.
- What kinds of experiences do I want in my life? i.e., travel, adventure, cultural.
- What personal talents do I want to develop? i.e., music, art, language, communication, intellectual.
- How do I like to spend my leisure time? i.e., community services, recreation and sports, travel.
Finally, you must ask yourself whether the occupational goals and educational avenues you are considering will be supportive of your life plan.
ROLES YOU PLAY IN YOUR LIFE
Being a worker will be interconnected with other roles you play in life. Examples of roles that are affected by your career could include being a parent, a community citizen, a student, a recreationist. Your career reaches beyond being a wage earner in your chosen occupation. Most people are primarily involved with two or three roles at a time. Which roles you are focusing on depends upon your age and life stage. For example, in college, your principal roles may be as student and recreationist. Later in life your principal roles may be as worker and parent. The point is that throughout your life you will play a combination of work, leisure, study, homemaking and citizen roles that are intermixed. Therefore, when you make decisions about your career, you should take into consideration the effect of these career decisions on the other areas of your life.
THE LIFE-CAREER RAINBOW
Refer to the Life-Career Rainbow Chart below to get a better picture of the kind of roles you may play at various ages and stages of your career and life. The two outer arcs of the Life-Career Rainbow show you the life stages you may move through during your career and life, and your approximate age in each. The lower arcs of the Life-Career Rainbow show you the different roles you may engage in while in different life stages and ages.
Adapted from: Frank J. Minor, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Emeritus, Saint Anselm College, NH
Career Dimensions, Inc., Copyright © 2014
SEEKING EXPERT ADVICE: CAREER COUNSELING
You may want to meet with a career counselor, mentor or advisor. Be prepared to ask questions concerning:
- Your career-related interests, values, personality and abilities.
- Your present occupational, educational and college/training goals and plans.
- Responsibilities or obstacles that are interfering with your career and college/training decision-making.
- Your life plan, life-style desires and strategies to achieve your goals
Your career advisor can give you ideas and information to help you:
- Verify the rationale of your career decisions and education plans.
- Help you develop your long-term educational path.
- Pinpoint your personal development needs that will help you to achieve your goals.
- Suggest ways to get around any obstacles that are interfering with your decision-making and planning.
- Formulate strategies and action plans to achieve your career and educational objectives.
Career Planning is a lifelong process of exploration and planning of your career and educational goals compatible with your interests, values, talents, personality and aspirations. Career planning involves thinking about which educational and occupational paths will provide you with satisfaction and fulfillment in all aspects of your life, present and future.
Career exploration focuses on learning about the occupations that seem to be a good fit based on the results of your self-assessment and any other professions that interest you. Use online and print resources to get a job description, learn about specific job duties, and gather labor market information including median salaries and job outlooks.
After completing this preliminary research, you can start eliminating professions that don't appeal to you and get more details about those that do. This is an ideal time to conduct informational interviews and start networking looking for potential internship opportunities. During an informational interview, you will ask people who work in an occupation that interests you questions about their jobs. Job shadowing involves following someone around at work in order to learn more about what they do.
Finally, it's time to make a match! During step three, you will decide which occupation is the best fit for you based on what you learned during steps one and two.
- Identify the occupation in which you are most interested and one or two alternatives on which to fall back if, for any reason, you can't pursue your first choice.
- Give serious thought to how you will prepare to enter your chosen career, the costs associated with education and training, and whether you will face any barriers, which are the realities discussed during step one.
- Go back to step two if you find you need to explore your options further before making a decision.
Once you have chosen a career, you can go on to step four, which will lead you toward your first job in your new career.
During this step, you will write a career action plan. It will serve as a guide to reaching your ultimate goal of getting a job with the career you deemed to be a good match during step three. Identify what long-term and short-term goals you will have to reach to get to the ultimate one.
Start investigating appropriate education and training programs. Then start preparing for required entrance examinations or applying for admission.