Lesson2: Career Plan

Career Exploration


If asked to list every occupation you know, how many different ones could you identify? Few entering first year students can list more than thirty different types of occupations. Go ahead, try it. If you have identified around thirty, that is fine. If more, better still. The main point is, though, that however many different types of jobs or occupations you have listed, that is your worldview of work. With thousands of different types of occupations available, are you willing to settle on choosing from the thirty you know?

It is not surprising then, for most exploring students, the initial career planning goal should be to acquired greater career awareness. Exploring students need to increase their knowledge of different types of occupations as well as learn more accurate and in depth information about specific occupations in which they have an interest.

What should be my career planning approach as an undergraduate?

Sandra Cohea-Weike, from Salisbury State University , has proposed a good general career-planning model. She has established yearly goals for undergraduates that serve as good milestones to guide and evaluate their career planning. It should be remembered that wherever you are in the process, it is not to late to start and there is no reason why you cannot move more rapidly through the goals.

First Year: Awareness

  • Identify your personal interests, abilities, and values.
  • Find out what careers relate to initial/tentative choices of majors.
  • Develop work related behaviors such as punctuality, reliability, and conscientiousness

Second Year: Exploration

  • Take responsibility for life/career decision.
  • Explore more deeply career/major choice.
  • Gather information from professionals in relevant academic and career related fields.

Third Year: Preparation

  • Have major selected and continue taking courses in it.
  • Start researching graduate and professional schools.
  • Gain work related experience in desired career field.

Fourth Year: Choice

  • Network in chosen field
  • Focus on career choice
  • Become a professional

What questions should I ask to gain more knowledge about specific occupations?

What do people do at work, in the different occupations in which you are interested? This is an important question. Frequently, perceptions of different types of work are shaped by myths rather than facts. By researching work descriptions and comparing them with your own interests, abilities, and values you may more easily see how some types of work maybe more appealing to you than others. Likewise, such an investigation may help you see how the majors you are considering can help you develop the knowledge and skills related to your career interests.

To find out about different types of occupations, it is best to embrace as many different research approaches as possible for gather new information and insights. Searching career Web sites, conducting informational interviews, attending career skills development workshops, and engaging in work related experiences, (which can include co-op and internships) are some examples. Through these experiences, the questions below can help you frame your exploration and provide you with some comparable information in which to make a decision.

Occupational Environment:

  • How would you describe a "typical day" at work? (example: your routine or the duties you perform on a regular basis.)
  • How much flexibility are you allowed on your job in terms of dress, hours, vacation, job location, etc?
  • What portion of your job involves interacting with others, such as co-workers and/or public?

Occupational Requirements and Experiences:

  • What college courses (requirements or electives) were the most helpful to you in your present career?
  • Is special certification, licensing, or an advanced degree required for your job? If so, what?

Personal Views:

  • What was your undergraduate major field of study? Have you always been interested in this area of study?
  • Did you have any practical experience or training, other than college, prior to your current position? How helpful or necessary was it?
  • How did you get your current position?


  • What are the opportunities for advancement in this field?
  • What are the current and future demands for people in this field?
  • What are the possible salary ranges and benefits for someone in your occupation?


  • Are there any professional groups I can join as a student, which would be beneficial to me?
  • Do you know were I can obtain further information, such as from pamphlets, books, or Web sites?
  • Do you know of any other people in this field who might be willing to talk to me about their experience?
  • How can I get experience in this field while I am still in college?

http://www.ncsu.edu/careerkey/ Career First Step