Career exploration is about gathering quality information as ingredients of good decision-making result in a good fit. If you are unclear about your career it usually means that you just don't have enough information. The more knowledge you have, both about yourself and the opportunities in the world of work, the more focused you become and the better will be your decisions.
Where To Begin
The CEC follows a 5 Step Career Development Model that can serve as a useful guide, now and in the future, in the journey down your career path. It's all about discovering what you love to do and where you can be successful. Before you begin your research and exploration, however, it is important to really know yourself. After all, if you don't know who you are, how can you know what career path is a good fit for you?
Step 1 in the career development process, therefore, is Assessment. Self-assessment is a process that leads you to discover or clarify your "VIPS": Values, Interests, Personality preferences, and Skills. Assessment also helps establish career goals. It plays an important role in career decision-making, and a CEC career coach can help guide you in this process.
Once you know your "VIPS," you are ready for Step 2 in the process, Exploration. It's time to research and explore the multitude of career options that exist even within a career field you have selected. It's natural for job seekers and those exploring careers to be aware of only a limited number of professional roles when in fact there might be many more options available to you.
Exploring Your Options
One of the best ways to start researching potential careers and your potential fit is networking, which is nothing more than initiating conversations with people you know, and with people who they know. Hearing first-hand about others' professional experiences is very helpful in generating or clarifying potential options for you.
Here are some important networking tools at your disposal:
- Informational Interviews - One of the most effective ways to explore and learn about careers and to develop professional contacts is to talk to people who are already working in the fields you are entering or are curious about. An informational interview is a 20-30 minute meeting that you set up and run with a person who can give you AIR: Advice, Information, and Referrals. It is not, however, about asking for a job!
- Social Networking - Leveraging all the capabilities of social media allows you to significantly broaden your networking reach and has become a highly beneficial tool in career exploration, job search, and professional development. LinkedIn can be used to locate Simmons alumnae/i in your field of interest, research companies, make connections for informational interviews, and much more. More and more jobs are posted on Twitter. See more in the Simmons Library Career Guide on Social Networking.
- Alumnet - Join the online directory of Simmons alumnae/i and connect with alumnae/i in your field for information and advice. This is among your best networks as alums are typically predisposed to helping one another.
- Do Internships, Part-time, or Summer Jobs - These work experiences give you the opportunity to try something new, experience a work environment that you are interested in, and possibly spark an interest.
- Attend Career Fairs - Use these opportunities to speak with employers about various job roles and industries and what you have to offer. Review the CEC guide Prepare for a Career Fair first.
- Join a Professional Association - Professional meetings and events are good sources for learning about careers and meeting professionals with whom to set up an informational interview. See the Library Career Guide on Professional Organizations.
- Meet Other Alumnae/i - Attending events with alumnae/i panels, speakers, or networking programs creates opportunities for valuable exchanges and contacts.
- Volunteer - Whether through the Simmons Scott Ross Center or other volunteer organizations, through volunteering you can meet professionals in roles you are exploring and build your resume - all while contributing to a good cause!
- Broadcast your Interest - Tell everyone you know and meet what it is you are exploring and intending to do. You never know who may share a good information source or introduce you to a helpful resource person!
For More Information
- Beatley Library Guide on Career Exploration
- Outcomes: Where Simmons Students Go - see where your fellow Simmons graduates have gone in the past, both for internship sites and full-time employment after they have graduated.
How a Career Coach Can Help
If you're exploring career options, working with a career coach can help you to:
- Understand how the career decision-making process works
- Assess your interests, strengths, values and personality preferences
- Learn about different career options
- Locate appropriate resources for your exploration
Contact the CEC to set up an appointment with a career coach. We're here to help!
CEC Services for Alums
Each year, hundreds of alumnae/i use the Career Education Center. If you are in the early stages of your career and evaluating career choices, or in mid- to later-career and considering a change, the CEC is a great resource for you. Let us help you succeed!
Career Toolkit for Alums
The purpose of the Career Toolkit is to assist you in your career planning. Whether you are unsure of your career direction or need help with your job search or with applying to graduate school, you will find the resources you need to begin your preparation.
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