If you think about college as the start of your career, you’ve already got the mindset of a winner. College is a period of time that can set the course for the rest of your life and career. You can try new things and build critical skills, meet new people and start building your network, and begin crafting your personal brand.
The world of work is full of possibilities that you might not be thinking about while in college. However, to ensure that you are well-prepared for the best possibilities, you have to start preparing while in school.
Student career basics
When I talk with students about their career interests, a typical response is that they have so many interests it’s hard to narrow down the possibilities and find focus. They don’t even know where to start. The reality is that most people have a lot of interests and there is not one perfect career for everyone. So by focusing on discovering the one “perfect” career, students get stuck.
Career planning and gaining clarity about your career direction happens in phases. It’s a lifelong process of refinement and discovery. The foundation for success and happiness in a career is how well you know yourself. You need to have a good understanding of what motivates you to achieve your best in any circumstance, what skills you have and enjoy using the most, what work settings and conditions are a fit for your personality, and what type of work you are interested in doing. As a college student you might not have given much thought to those factors.
What career counselors do
If you’re unsure of the career options available to you, visit your campus career center. A career counselor can help you figure it out. Most college career centers offer career counseling to get one-on-one career assistance, a career resource library to research careers and industries and career planning workshops or classes to learn how to plan a satisfying career. Other valuable career center resources could include career assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, Self-Directed Search, StrengthsFinder, SkillsScan are all good tools to give you insight into your personality, interests, motivators, and skills. You can work with a career counselor to discuss the results and related career paths. By using those resources, you can get the information and insight you need to start exploring career possibilities.
The world of work is full of opportunities. Now, is the best time to start exploring.
Markell Steele is s career counselor who helps frustrated job seekers find career direction. She works with clients in her private practice, Futures in Motion, Inc. and on-campus as Counseling Manager, Graduate Student Services at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In her role as career counselor, Markell guides her clients in discovering career options that integrate their interests, skills, and passions. She is also the author of Fast Track Your Career.