Finding a career is not a quick process. It is important to start exploring your career options early in your academic experience. The below steps will help you (1) identify a career and (2) become a competitive job candidate upon graduation.
Step 1: Self-Assessment
It is important to pursue a career that emphasizes your strengths, matches your interests, and coincides with your personal values. Completing a self-assessment is a great way to learn more about yourself. A self-assessment is the process of looking at oneself to assess what aspects are important to one's identity. We encourage you to write out your answers to the self-assessment questions below. Revisit your written responses regularly to revise or fine-tune your responses.
- Do you picture yourself indoors, outdoors, in an office, lab, etc.?
- Would you prefer a job that is active or more sedentary?
- What do you want from your job?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses (personally and professionally)?
- what are your hobbies? Could a hobby turn into a career?
- Make a list of skills and activities you have enjoyed.
- What have you enjoyed most in your life?
- How well will your personality function in your future career? Think about the day-by-day activities of a career.
- Where do you want to live?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- Make a list of professions and skills you dislike.
- What have you enjoyed least?
- What have you found most frustrating?
- Do you have family or financial obligations?
- What are your future family and financial plans?
MSU's Career Services Network offers several in-person career assessments. These assessments can help identify your interests, personality, skills, and values which are all valuable characteristics to take into consideration when choosing a career.
Step 2: Investigate Careers
Gathering information so that you can make a well-informed choice about your future career is essential. Once you have identified a few career options, you can begin to investigate each particular career. Here are some ways to investigate careers:
- Try hands-on opportunities
- Read books related to your career interests
- Look at current job postings
- Explore websites of professional organizations related to your field of interest
- Attend events offered by MSU Career Services Network
- Conduct an informational interview(s)
- Job shadow
Step 3: Assess Your Skills
An important part of your undergraduate experience is acquiring the knowledge necessary to succeed in your career. Besides grades and coursework, many potential employers look for job candidates that already have skills directly relevant to the profession. College is the time to build your resume for your future career. The big question is, what particular skills do you need for the career you have chosen?
As you read internship and job postings, make a list of the skills that are needed for the careers that interest you. Make a list of your work-related skills, and update this list on a regular basis. Do your skills match the job descriptions? Where can you gain the skills you don't have or still need to improve? Meet with your academic advisor to discuss these topics.
Step 4: Develop Skills
Develop the skills identified in Step 3. For college students, relevant workplace skills are best gained from hands-on opportunities.
As a student, each experience you have is a stepping stone to the next position. Participating in volunteer experiences, student organizations, research opportunities, and/or part-time jobs before you apply for an internship or formal research program will make you a stronger applicant.
Further study or training beyond the Bachelor's Degree is frequently necessary to prepare for some careers.
Step 5: Articulate Your Skills
Just developing the appropriate career-related skills isn't enough to be successful after graduation. Effectively communicating the skillset you have acquired is equally important.
Think about this for a moment: how will future employers, professional schools, or graduate schools know all the great skills you have to offer if you cannot articulate them on paper and/or verbally? In most cases, the application process begins with how you look on paper. You only get an extended interview if they like what they read.