Leverage Your Career Center When Choosing A Career - Part 2

College seniors are weeks away from graduation. And while some of your peers might know what they will do beyond graduation, you might only be getting started in choosing a career.  With over 800 careers documented on the Occupational Outlook Handbook, figuring out how to translate your education into a first career move might be daunting.  However, as mentioned in the first post of this series, remember that you are likely to have 10-14 jobs before you turn 38. Therefore, no matter what you choose to do now, it is likely that you will be doing something quite different from that first move in 2-5 years.

This does not mean though that you have to jump from job to job, hoping that at some point you will stumble upon what you were 'meant to do'. Instead, partnering with your career center can tremendously help you articulate your priorities and preferences (see part 1 on self-assessment). Furthermore, your career services staff will enable you to reflect upon your experiences, try new things out, and use that knowledge and experience to re-strategize and move towards other career opportunities that come up along the way. You have partnered with your career center to clarify and articulate your values, interests, personality and skills (VIPS), and can now move towards the next step: Career Exploration.

As a socio-eco innovator interested in doing business – better, your values and your interests are likely to drive your decision in terms of industry. Your personality and your skills will help you decide what type of organization and which role (or function) will be a best match for you this time around. Your career center is well equipped to provide you with resources to enable you to explore careers that will allow you to start your career in business – done better! So what are the resources that can help you explore careers?

  • Justmeans: Start by exploring our company directory, our job board, and our Social Innovation Award Winners. We are committed to increase the visibility of business – done better. By leveraging our resources and blogs, you can tremendously accelerate your career exploration process by identifying companies that offer products, services that align with your interests and values.
  • Profession and Purpose by Katie Kross – An outstanding recent book on business careers that successfully blend financial return, social impact and environmental responsibility. It is geared towards MBAs, but any undergraduate student can tremendously benefit from the excellent role descriptions, resources, websites, and professional associations highlighted in this book. If your career center does not own a copy, suggest that they buy one, career centers are always happy to receive suggestions from students about new books they can add to their library.
  • Fast Company Ethonomics: Articles and resources focused on start-ups and established businesses that integrate a triple bottom line (3BL – people, planet, profit) into their DNA. The Fast Company Social Capitalist Award winners list can also be very helpful for you to learn about 3BL career paths.

Your career center staff will also be able to assist you in learning more about industries, including renewable energy, education, consumer products, healthcare and transportation. These industries are currently evolving quite rapidly, and offer new opportunities that are most likely to enable you to do well while doing good.

There is no magic in this process. Read as much as you can about functions and industries that peak your interests and align with your values.  Throughout this process, record your thoughts and findings in a three-column checklist.  The checklist will enable you to keep track of  the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly you can foresee in each career based on your VIPS. Through this research process, a top 2 functions and industries is likely to emerge as top contenders for now. At this point taking the risk to pick one or two options and stick with them throughout the rest of process is the hardest part of career development. You need to trust your research and your guts.  By choosing a career based on your VIPS and strong research, you will be in the best possible position to embark on the next steps of your career development: setting goals to gain experience, and implementing search strategies to compete and be selected for opportunities that align with your career goals. These two steps will be the focus of my next posts.

Image Credit: Christine Laureano.