Student Success/Career Exploration

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Career path
Plan Do Check Act

This lesson introduces career exploration. In this lesson you will learn about career planning, career paths, college majors, professional skills, career development, professional networking, resumes, cover letters, and interviewing.

Objectives and Skills[edit | edit source]

Objectives and skills for this lesson include:

  • Correlate your short-term goals with longer-range ambitions[1]
  • Explain the five-step process for choosing a career, which includes aligning your personal interests and skills with appropriate fields[2]
  • Identify the relationship between college majors and career paths (both why they matter and why they don’t)[3]
  • Explain how to acquire necessary skills, both in and out of class, for your career goals[4]
  • Identify career development resources in your school, community, and beyond[5]
  • Define network and identify strategies for networking[6]
  • Identify characteristics of an effective cover letter and resume[7]
  • Describe effective strategies to prepare for an interview[8]

Readings[edit | edit source]

  1. Lumen: College Success - The Big Picture
  2. Lumen: College Success - Career Paths
  3. Lumen: College Success - College Majors
  4. Lumen: College Success - Professional Skill Building
  5. Lumen: College Success - Career Development
  6. Lumen: College Success - Networking
  7. Lumen: College Success - Resumes and Cover Letters
  8. Lumen: College Success - Interviewing

Multimedia[edit | edit source]

  1. YouTube: What Does it Mean to be College and Career Ready?
  2. YouTube: Why College?
  3. YouTube: Difference between Job, Work, and Career
  4. YouTube: Job vs Career - Think about a long time career
  5. YouTube: Matching your skills to a career
  6. YouTube: Childhood Interests Can Help You Find the Right Career
  7. YouTube: How to Select Your College Major
  8. YouTube: Choosing a College Major & Finding the Right Career Fit
  9. YouTube: 10 top skills that will get you a job when you graduate
  10. YouTube: How to find a new job - Transferable Job Skills
  11. YouTube: Tips to improve your career from Monash Graduates
  12. YouTube: The Secret to Getting a Job After College
  13. YouTube: Networking Tips for College Students and Young People
  14. YouTube: International Student Series: Finding work using your networks
  15. YouTube: Networking For College Students & Recent Grads
  16. YouTube: Job Interview Guide - 10 Different Types of Interviews in Today's Modern World

Activities[edit | edit source]

  1. Explore student services.
    • Contact the college's Counseling Services to learn about career counseling options.
    • Contact the college Career Center to learn about career planning and job placement resources available to students and alumni.
  2. Explore career options.
  3. Create a career plan. Complete one or more of the following:
  4. Assess your soft skills.
  5. Network with professionals in your field.
    • Review Lumen: College Success - Assignment: Networking.
    • Identify professionals in your field and follow them on social media.
    • Reach out to local professionals in your field and ask to interview them and/or job shadow them for a day.
    • Research organizations in your area that might have internship opportunities in your field and ask what qualifications they look for in the interns they hire.
  6. Create a resume.
  7. Create a cover letter.
  8. Create or update your LinkedIn profile.
  9. Blog / Journal / Wiki
    • Update your blog, journal, or wiki page summarizing your experience this week. Include a list of resources and links or contact information for each resource.

Lesson Summary[edit | edit source]

The Big Picture[edit | edit source]

Career planning recommendations include:[9]

  • Understand your motivations.
  • Understand what is necessary to be college and career ready.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Enroll in a career exploration or planning course (such as this one).
  • Complete a job shadow or informational interview.
  • Do an internship.

Career Paths[edit | edit source]

Follow a five-step decision process to make your career path a little easier to find:[10]

  • Get to know yourself
  • Get to know your field
  • Prioritize your “deal makers” and rule out your “deal breakers”
  • Make a preliminary career decision and create a plan of action
  • Go out and achieve your career goal

College Majors[edit | edit source]

Tips for selecting your college major include:[11]

  • Narrow your choices by deciding what you don’t like.
  • Explore careers that might interest you. Ask questions.
  • Use your school’s resources.
  • Ask your teacher, counselor, and family about your strengths.
  • 60 percent of students change their majors.
  • Your major isn’t going to define your life. But choosing one that interests you will make your college experience much more rewarding.
  • Go on informational interviews with people in careers that interest you.
  • There’s no pressure to decide now.
  • Take new classes and discover your interests.

Take advantage of available resources, including:[12]

  • College course catalog
  • Faculty and academic advisers at your college
  • Fellow students and graduating seniors
  • Students who have graduated
  • Your family and social communities
  • A career center

Professional Skill Building[edit | edit source]

There are are two main types of skills that employers look for: hard skills and soft skills.

  • Hard skills are concrete or objective abilities that you learn and perhaps have mastered.[13]
  • Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.[14]

Career Development[edit | edit source]

There are five main stages of career development:[15]

  • Growing (ages 4-13)
  • Exploring (teen - mid-twenties)
  • Establishing (mid-twenties - mid-forties)
  • Maintaining (mid-forties - mid-sixties)
  • Reinventing (retirement or new career)

PDCA (plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust) is an iterative four-step process used for continuous improvement:[16][17]

  • Plan your approach
  • Do (follow) your plan
  • Check your results
  • Act or adjust based on what you have learned

Networking[edit | edit source]

Networking is the process by which people build relationships with one another for the purpose of helping one another achieve professional goals. Strategies for networking include:[18]

  • Get to know your professors
  • Check with your college's alumni office
  • Check with classmates
  • Join professional organizations
  • Volunteer
  • Get an internship
  • Get a part-time job
  • Join a club
  • Attend networking events
  • Conduct informational interviews
  • Participate in online social media
  • Ask family members and friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for referrals
  • Use business cards or networking cards

Resumes and Cover Letters[edit | edit source]

Your resume is an inventory of your education, work experience, job-related skills, accomplishments, volunteer history, internships, residencies, and/or more.[19]

Resume formats include:[20]

  • Reverse chronological resume
  • Functional resume
  • Hybrid resume
  • Video, infographic, and Web-site resume

Resumes include:[21]

  • Your contact information
  • A summary of your skills
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer experience
  • Education and training
  • References statement

Things to avoid:[22]

  • Do not mention your age, gender, height or weight.
  • Do not include your social security number.
  • Do not mention religious beliefs or political affiliations, unless they are relevant to the position.
  • Do not include a photograph of yourself or a physical description.
  • Do not mention health issues.
  • Do not use first-person references. (I, me).
  • Do not include wage/salary expectations.
  • Do not use abbreviations.

Tips for a successful resume include:[23]

  • Aim to make a resume that’s 1–2 pages long on letter-size paper.
  • Make it visually appealing.
  • Use action verbs and phrases. See Action Words and Phrases for Resume Development.
  • Proofread carefully to eliminate any spelling, grammar, punctuation, and typographical errors.
  • Include highlights of your qualifications or skills to attract an employer’s attention.
  • Craft your letter as a pitch to people in the profession you plan to work in.
  • Stand out as different, courageous.
  • Be positive and reflect only the truth.
  • Be excited and optimistic about your job prospects!
  • Keep refining and reworking your resume; it’s an ongoing project.

A cover letter is a letter of introduction, usually 3–4 paragraphs in length, that you attach to your resume. Cover letters should accomplish the following:[24]

  • Get the attention of the prospective employer
  • Set you apart from any possible competition
  • Identify the position you are interested in
  • Specify how you learned about the position or company
  • Present highlights of your skills and accomplishments
  • Reflect your genuine interest
  • Please the eye and ear

Interviewing[edit | edit source]

When preparing for a job interview:[25]

  • Review the Job Description
  • Research the Company or Organization
  • Practice Answering Common Questions
  • Plan to Dress Appropriately
  • Come Prepared
  • Be Confident

Interview types include:[26]

  • Screening Interviews
  • Phone or Web Conference Interviews
  • One-on-One Interviews
  • Panel Interviews
  • Serial Interviews
  • Lunch Interviews
  • Group Interviews

Key Terms[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]