Career Exploration

From a naming brainstorm at a talk

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

~Albert Einstein~

For those beginning to explore their career choices, I encourage them to open their minds to all the possibilities that could be possible or impossible. This can be helpful to open up options that would not have been considered otherwise. I like this brainstorming activity to get things started:

  1. Brainstorm and write down all the things you are passionate about (they do not have to be career or work-related). Think of things that you can get lost in and forget what time it is such as the magazines, books, or shows that interest you or the activities you crave.
  2. Once you have a list of at least 8-10 items, list the possibilities of careers that you could do with each item or a combination of items. The careers do not have to be realistic, achievable, or high-paying; just have fun creating options that might appeal to you.
  3. Using the results from your brainstorming activity and the findings from your other self-assessments, identify three career options you could pursue:
    • dream job where money is no option and nothing is impossible; you are able to follow your passion and find a career that provides you with real meaning.
    • realistic job given the limitations of reality (e.g., rent, school loans) and note how reality limits your vision.
    • Another job that you may have considered or would consider if you decided to leave your current job.
  4. Using the resources below (e.g., OOHO*NetMyPlan), explore the careers you identified in the three categories above. 

Career Exploration Resources

These resources can help provide you an overview of careers as they include occupational information such as job titles used, job duties, education and skills required, employment outlook, job challenges, salary, and related job clusters in occupations as well as how they fit with your values, interests, personality, and skilled (VIPS).

  • MyPlan Composite Scores help determine your Career Matches using all of the VIPS assessments combined.
  • O*NET (Occupational Information Network)
  • O*NET My Next Move
  • DOT: Dictionary of Occupational Titles is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor
  • OOH: Occupational Outlook Handbook contains career information for hundreds of occupations including the work duties & environment, education & training required, pay & job outlook, and similar occupations. The OOH is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and broken up into clusters of similar occupations. Find an occupation in a variety of ways:
    • Browse the occupation groups of interest on the left-hand side of the homepage,
    • Use the A-Z Index if you know the specific occupation.
    • Search for occupations by using the drop-down menus on the OOH homepage.
    • Select by pay range, entry-level education, on-the-job training, projected number of new jobs, or projected growth rate.
    • Enter a job title into the “Search Handbook” box at the top.
    • Or browse by clicking any of the three links titled “highest paying,” “fastest growing (projected),” “and most new jobs (projected).” 
  • SOC: Standard Occupational Classification is used by Federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories including 840 detailed occupations for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.
  • SIC: Standard Industrial Classifications are four-digit numerical codes assigned by the U.S. government to business establishments to identify the primary business of the establishment.
  • iSeek, Minnesota’s career, education, and job resource
  • Career One Stop, a U.S. Department of Labor resource for career seekers.
  • Vets HQ, self-directed job search services for veterans

Did you gain new insights or opportunities by exploring?

Did any of this information reinforce or deter you from any of your desired careers?

You are encouraged to take a step further and reach out to professionals in these fields through informational interviews so you can learn first-hand knowledge and personal insights about the careers.