What is Career Development?
Career development involves gaining information about which you are your values, interests, abilities, personality traits, etc. and learning about the career options that might fit best with your personal characteristics. Career Development is a life-long process…a process of exploring and gathering information that enables you to synthesize, gain competence, make decisions, set goals, and take action. For many reasons, each person varies in their progress through each of these phases. Some advance rapidly through each or all of the stages while others progress more slowly. Individuals may repeat all or parts of the career development process at various points throughout their lives as values, interests, abilities, and life circumstances change.
Career Development Process
A four-year planning guide is a great way to assist you in organizing your college years and in choosing those strategies that will benefit you most in accomplishing your career goals. Freshman Year- Becoming aware of yourself and your resources
Start at the beginning! What do you enjoy doing? What do you do well? What is important to you? This first step involves gathering information about yourself to assist you in making a career decision. Begin to develop an understanding of your personal values, interests, personality traits, skills, and desired life style. The answers you come up with will help you identify factors that can help lead you to a satisfying career.
Have you always wanted to take an acting class? Do you know what an Occupational Therapist does? Have you ever heard of an Ethnologist? Want to know what the fastest growing and highest paying occupations are?
The purpose of this step is to encourage you to explore different courses, different majors and related career options (including learning about job characteristics, work settings, employment outlooks, etc). The information gathered in this step will allow you to narrow a general occupational direction into a specific one and focus efforts on building competence in this area. At this point it may become clearer what major would be best. Although your major does not decide your career, there is a connection between the two. Keep an open mind and allow yourself to explore the possibilities!
Developing a Plan of Action
Congratulations on completing step #3. Now it's time to develop a plan of action. It takes more than a degree these days to compete in the job market. Employers look for academic excellence (although this will decrease in importance as you advance in your career field), career-related experience and leadership experience. In this step of your career development plan, you should focus on an academic plan, activities that may help you develop your interests (link to Volunteer Action Center website), seeking opportunities such as internships, and exploring student activities and organizations (link to clubs and organizations website). It is important to gain experience, as well as to confirm to yourself that you've chosen a field you truly enjoy. These are the building blocks of your career success. Participation in these activities can help you become more marketable when you graduate and help you to evaluate your choice of careers.
- Get to know yourself. Take time to think about what you value, what your interests are, and in what areas you have skills. Utilize various assessment tools from Career Services if you need help in this area.
- Classroom experience can tell you a lot. You can investigate and read about particular majors, but you won't know for sure if you enjoy a particular subject until you start taking some classes. Many classes sound interesting on paper, but may be very different once you are enrolled.
- Work experience is vital. To be competitive in the job market, you must have more than a degree listed on your resume at graduation. Part-time work, volunteer activities, and internships all can give you the competitive edge needed upon graduation. Additionally, it is important to learn first-hand about the culture of different organizations, the lifestyle that may be required in particular job fields, and the type of co-workers with whom you may be working.
- Personal Changes. Few of us are the same person we were 5 or 10 years ago. As your values and needs change, so might your interest in a particular major or career. You may decide to seek additional responsibilities or a promotion. Changes in the industry may also affect your desire to stay in a particular job or career field. Continually revising your Career "Plan of Action" and being familiar with the steps in the Career Development Process will help make those transitions easier.
Career Services can help you with each step of the Career Development Process.