Strategic Planning for Career Success: Exploration

In part one of this four part series, I discussed the importance of personal assessment in the creation of your career plan. Once you have taken the time to understand your values, interests, skills, and personality (VIPs), it’s time to move on to step two of building your career plan: exploration.

There are three areas all college students should explore: career fields, majors to careers, and companies.

Career Fields

What do you want to do when you grow up? Explore both industries and occupations, learning about everything from salary expectations to what an average day in the office looks like for a particular career path. In addition to conducting informational interviews and job shadowing, there are many online resources available to assist you in your search. Two of my favorite guides are WetFeet and Vault.

Majors to Careers

While it is important to select a major based on your VIPs, you also need to identify what majors will best prepare you for your future career. Take a close look at the major coursework–what knowledge and skills will you develop through these classes? Then review job descriptions for positions you one day aspire to hold–what skills and experiences are required for this career path? Does the major adequately prepare you for the career? If not, think about exploring other majors or entertain the idea of adding a minor.


It’s never too early to conduct company research.  What companies do you want to target in your job and/or internship search? Company websites always a great place to start, but I would encourage you to take things to the next level. Set up informational interviews with people in your network employed at your target companies.  Review companies’ LinkedIn page and follow their Twitter stream to get up to the minute news about their products and initiatives. Research online directories, such as Hoover’s, to gain additional insight and analysis about companies you are interested in. The more you know now, the easier it will be to set your career goals.

Stay tuned for next week’s post where I will discuss step three of creating your career plan: goal setting.


Heather currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Services for the Undergraduate Career Services Office in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In her role, Heather guides students throughout their career development, lectures on career-related topics and personal branding, presents career workshops for students, supervises a team of career coaches, and develops/manages the social media efforts for her office. Before making the switch to Student Affairs, Heather worked in Marketing, Sales, and Promotion within the Music & Entertainment industry. Originally from New Jersey, Heather attended Indiana University for her undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for her graduate studies. You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Strategic Planning for Career Success: Assessment
  2. Strategic Planning for Career Success: Goal Setting
  3. Strategic Planning for Career Success: The Personal SWOT Analysis

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