By Sarah Kovalesky, the Assistant Director for Exploration & Curriculum in the Career & Professional Development Center.
In this new role in Career & Professional Development Center, Sarah creates an environment for students where career exploration is not only encouraged but is also fun. Sarah creates and manages career courses, oversees career assessments and continuous professional development of the career center staff. Sarah’s mission in CPDC is to ensure that the students we serve find their place in life and the world of work.
When was the first time you were asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? We have all been asked it. I remember at the end of every year in school I was asked this question, and it was put into a portfolio. Some years the answer was a dancer, an archaeologist, and a teacher. Never once was it a Career Coach.
We live in a society where it is normalized that we must know what we want to do with the rest of our lives very early and stick to that plan. In reality, people change jobs and careers quite often. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, people change their jobs 12.3 times on average in their lifetime. Nowadays, we stay with the same employer for about 4.2 years (even shorter in tech companies – for only 2 years), and we are likely to have 3-7 different careers over the course of our life.
As the school year starts, I want to share the importance of exploration particularly when it comes to careers. Exploring is the foundation for everything we do when it comes to Career Development. We have to know who we are first before anything else can happen!
You might be wondering how exactly the Career & Professional Development Center can help you explore. Whether it is an appointment, career assessment, career course, or a resource, we are committed to helping you explore in a way that makes the most sense to you.
All our Career Coaches are trained to not only work with any student at the U but also work with exploring students. When you make a Career Exploration appointment, you will meet with a coach for approximately 45 minutes. In that appointment you might talk, do some exploration activities, work through some career myths to explore yourself, your values, and interests. This is the foundation for getting you closer to the career you will love.
Career Assessments are very helpful tools in career exploration. Career Assessments are not meant to define our path or tell us what to do. Career Assessments capture a moment in time and often give us the language we did not know we needed to explore the world of work. At CPDC we have four formal career assessments available ranging from no cost to $25. You can access the Focus2 via your Handshake account or you can talk with a Career Coach in an Assessment Interest & Intake appointment to see if CliftonStrengths for Students, the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), or the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) is the right fit for you. Also note that there are opportunities throughout the academic year to take these assessments at no cost to you! To keep track of the upcoming free Career Assessment workshops, check the Events section on Handshake.
In addition to Career Assessments, there are also several online resources and tools that you can use to get a better understanding of what a job or specific pathway might entail. Three of my favorites are What Can I Do with this Major?, O*Net, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). All three are accessible via Handshake though O*Net and OOH do not require a log in, and you can simply google them. Each of these tools offers an incredible and sometimes overwhelming amount of information. Whether you use these on your own or in an appointment with a coach, they can unlock an entire part of the world of work you did not know existed.
For some, a little more structure can be helpful when it comes to career exploration and other career development processes. We have a few online career courses available to students. UGS 1950 – Career Exploration is a half-semester, one-credit course that is 100% exploration focused that takes you through who you are and helps you make meaning of it. If you have a few pathways in mind and now need help applying for an internship, job, or a graduate program, UGS 3950 – Job Search Strategies course may be right for you. The outcome of this full-semester, two-credit course will be a ready-to-go strong application that you will develop while exploring, networking, working on your resumes, cover letters, and practicing interviewing.
No matter where you are or however lost and overwhelmed you may feel when it comes to figuring out what comes next, there are endless opportunities at the Career & Professional Development Center to explore and get you to where you want to be. It is never too late to explore, and we are here to support you.
Schedule a Career Exploration appointment with a Career Coach here.
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