Whether you are deciding upon your first career path following your education or thinking about making a career change after a number of years in a certain profession, career exploration and planning are valuable and necessary components of your career development to ensure you’re making the right decisions in your career. So before jumping into a job/internship search or deciding your next steps within your current company, we recommend following these steps:
- Explore Your Options: Once you know more about yourself or have confirmed what you already knew, begin to explore your career options by researching career fields/industries that may be a match for you, learning about companies that recruit people in the career fields you’re considering, etc. Some ways to go about this are reviewing position descriptions to see how your current skills and abilities align with what companies are seeking; conducting informational interviews with people who work in career fields, industries, or companies of interest to learn more about their experiences; getting involved with professional associations in your career field/industries of interest; and participating in job shadowing so you can learn more about a “day in the life” of someone in a particular career field.
- Decision Making: As you begin to narrow down your options in terms of the type of career fields and industries you might be interested in pursuing, you will want to being making decisions about the next step in your career: Do you want to stay with your current company and look for opportunities to progress within your career? Do you want to look for opportunities outside your current company? Do you want to change your career direction? Do you want to participate in internships? Do you want to relocate? As you begin to make decisions about your career, you’ll begin taking action to lead you in the direction you want to go.
- Gain Experience: Especially for those students/alumni who are planning to change careers or are starting a professional career, it’s important to seek out ways to gain experience in your chosen career field(s) so you can determine if this is the right field for you. By testing out your options, you can make more informed decisions about your career direction. Experience can be gained in a number of ways including participating in internships, taking on new projects within your current job, getting involved in professional associations for your career field, seeking out volunteer opportunities, participating in research projects, etc.
- Take Action: Once you have a good understanding of yourself, have explored your options, have made some decisions about your direction, and have gained experience, then you can begin taking action and developing a plan that will help you reach your career goals by seeking out the right opportunities for you within your current company or a new company.
If you’re still not sure where to begin or what direction to go in, our office can assist you. Request an appointment with a Career Counselor via SpartanCareers to get started.