What is meant by Career Exploration?
Career exploration is considered to be the second stage of the career planning process. During the first stage, a self assessment, you learn about your personality, interests, aptitudes, and values. After using several tools to collect this information, you’re left with a list of careers that are a great fit for someone with traits similar to yours.
However the careers on your list appear to be suitable, it doesn’t mean you can merely go ahead and randomly choose any one of them.
There are other things to consider. Each occupation has characteristics that will make it a better concept to select some over others.
Since you can merely have one career at a time, your aim, after learning about all the careers that might be a good fit for you, is to instantly have one remaining that is the BEST fit. Try not to eradicate any profession from your list until you do some research, even if you think you know something about it. You might be surprised by what you learn when you dig for information. If you cross a career off your list due to some preconceived notion, you could end up eliminating one of your best options.
Initiate With the Basics for Career Exploration
At first, you’ll merely need to gather some basic information about each occupation on your list. Let’s assume you have a list of ten careers. Before spending a lot of time on in-depth research, do certain preliminary fact-finding that will permit you to narrow down your list.
This will involve looking at a job description and labor market information, including job outlook, median salary and educational and training needs.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, issued by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a government agency, does a great job of presenting basic career information.
Another beneficial resource is the O*Net Database, sponsored by the US Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA) through a grant to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. You can also read individual career profiles or delve into careers by field.
After learning about all the occupations on your list you’ll find that several of them do not appeal to you. This could be for a variety of reasons. For instance, you might decide that you would not enjoy the job duties of a particular occupation or that you cannot or do not want to meet the educational and training requirements. The earnings might be lower than you thought they would be or the job outlook tells you that employment opportunities will be poor. After completing your preliminary research you will be left with a list that contains between 3 and 5 careers on it.
After you narrow down your list of career choices, your research should become more involved. You’ll need to learn what working in the field is actually like before you actually work in it. The great way to do this is to talk to individuals who do.
- Figure out who, in your professional network, knows individuals who work in the field or fields in which you’re fascinated, or inquire around to see if any of them have contacts who do.
- Set up informational interviews with anyone who has experience working in the careers you’re considering. Those whose experience is more recent make better subjects.
- See if any of those individuals are willing to let you shadow him or her on the job for a day or two.
- Consider doing an internship to learn about a work field and get experience.
After you complete your in-depth research, you should be capable to determine which career exploration is a good match for you. Try not to get too frustrated if you cannot make a decision by this point. You might not have enough data yet. Continue to do more research until you can comfortably select the best career for you.