Career Development is an on-going, life-long process of decision-making regarding the world of work. It is a process that encourages you to accept individual responsibility for your life. Often the Career Development process is divided into six steps, the first four steps correlating with the four years of college. Although these first four steps may occur at any time and do not necessarily need to take four years, the steps themselves are important.
I. Self Assessment--Know Yourself
What drives you?
What do you consider important?
What qualities are a part of you?
What capabilities have you acquired?
The first step in planning your career is to learn more about yourself and what you want. This step is essential in order for you to find a career that will be truly satisfying. You need to know your values, strengths, and weaknesses in order to make an informed decision. Here are some suggestions to help you:
- Explore various courses
- Get to know your professors, advisors, and fellow students
- Join a club/organization
- Get involved in volunteer activities
- Visit the NU career center and take advantage of available assessment resources: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, or the online MyMajors.
- Check out the Career Library for Career Planning materials.
II. Career investigation--Know Your options
What is your ideal/dream job?
What careers correspond with your self assessment?
What are the requirements for entering that field?
What is the job outlook for that field?
Second, find out more about the work world and how you might fit into careers that interest you. At this point, you should have a good idea of what you want in a career and are ready to start researching your options.
- Identify and research careers and companies
- Interview people in your chosen career field
- Set up job shadows which interest you
- Acquire experience through volunteer or employment options
- Continue developing leadership skills and making connections through campus and community involvement
- Visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook (www.bls.gov/ooh) and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (www.occupationalinfo.org)
- Continue taking a variety of courses to explore careers or enhance job skills
- Attend on-campus Career Skills 101 sessions and on-campus networking activities sponsored by the Career Service Center
III. Career Preparation--Research and narrow options
Have you discussed your ideas with others?
Have you researched the career that you are considering?
Have talked to someone in that field or ‘tried out’ that career?
By now, you have narrowed down a career field or major. It is now time to consider your options and make a decision. One way to narrow your options is to talk to faculty, advisors, or people employed in your field of interest. It is also important to gain experience and ‘try out’ your career of choice. Following are some tips on how to do that:
- Meet with a faculty advisor and choose electives that add value to your career goals
- Continue developing a resumé/cover letter
- Develop a contact network – join student affiliates of professional organizations
- Gain experience through part time employment, cooperative education, internships, volunteer opportunities, etc.
- Attend Career Fairs and talk to those who are working in your field of choice
- Begin developing a resumé/cover letter
- Attend professional training workshops on resumé writing, interviewing skills, etc. offered through the Career Services Office
IV. Develop a Plan of Action--Implement a Plan of Action
Have you established your goal and developed a plan to reach it?
Does your goal require additional education/training?
Do you feel confident in your presentation skills?
Do you have an idea of where to start in order to find your dream job?
Now, you are ready to put the plan into action (commit to the process). You may start looking for employment or researching graduate schools or other training programs.
- Ask faculty and/or professional contacts to act as references
- Polish your resumé, job search letters and interview skills
- Attend career and graduate school fairs
- Continue developing a network and keep a journal of contacts
- Begin developing a professional wardrobe
- Take advantage of services offered through the Career Services Office
You will feel comfortable in your career field, as you will now have figured out how things work in your industry. You will want to remain committed to your career by continually updating your skill set and staying current with industry standards.
- Provide first-class customer-service skills
- Build a professional network
You will have feelings of discomfort in that you are unsure of what you will be doing next (and/or if you will be happy). In this stage, you will learn to make conscious changes in your career direction.
- Making career changes
- Developing resiliency
No matter what career stage you find yourself in now, you can be sure that you will enter and re-enter through these six stages many times throughout your lifetime.
For additional tips and resources, visit our online Resource Center.