Some of us are born musicians, writers, accountants or entrepreneurs, knowing from an early age exactly how we want to spend our lives. These lucky people know without a doubt what they love to do: they will make a living singing, writing, accounting, creating a business. For most of us, however, the following questions do not elicit ready answers:
The career development process can help each of us begin to find the answers to these very important questions.
Assess. People are most happy in careers that take advantage of the best they have to offer in terms of interests, skills, values and preferences. While we can all "survive" a job that does not suit us, survival is all it is: not growth, not pride – those things we seek (in addition to money) in working lives that are satisfying. The career development assessment process asks us to identify our passions, what we do well, what matters to us and therefore motivates us, so that we can identify occupations that best fit our individual make-up.
Explore. After possible job titles have been identified, the next step is to learn more about each career path: what kind of education is needed, what the daily responsibilities of the job are, what experienced people have to say about the work. In addition to the Internet, the career library (Morehead Hall, Room 337) has hundreds of volumes you can read to learn about occupations, identify professional associations, and check out the job outlook.
Reflect and Set Goals. Think about what you have learned about yourself and the world of work and make some decisions. Plan some "try-out" steps: volunteer in work environments similar to those you are interested in; do a credit-bearing internship through your department or cooperative education, find a part-time job and try to identify a possible mentor.
Assess. Pay attention to how you feel in your try-out experience. Reflect on your accomplishments or failures. Remember that any step forward is an accomplishment. If you discover that the path you have chosen does not quite fit, you may need to change your goals.
The career development process continues throughout your career as you continually reassess how things are going, making changes and adjustments as situations require.