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Career Mapping

Class Location: The Internet.

Description: This course is designed for those who need guidance with their career.

Objective: Find out what you like doing and what you're good at, and pursue a career.

Starting from Scratch

Deciding on a career is easy for some people and hard for some, but planning can help make it easier. The first part of planning can you help you decide on career options, and then the rest can help you achieve the career goals you set after making the decision.

The first step in the decision process is to know yourself.

Know what you are interested in. Do you love to solve math equations or write stories, study biology or paint? Beyond knowing what you are fascinated by, you need to evaluate your skills. Include both your academic strengths and others like athletics and communication. Could you work in a cubicle or do you need to be outdoors? Do you prefer working by yourself or on a team? What sort of pace is best for you: slow, moderate, fast or frenzied?

Many companies and career centers, including those on college campuses, offer career assessment tests that ask you all sorts of questions in order to analyze your interests and your strengths. Then they will provide you with a list of possible careers to pursue.

After determining your strengths and interests, which may give you a handful of career options, do some exploration. Research the careers you are still considering on the internet or go to your local library. The reference section will have books that explain jobs with information about salaries, hours, skill requirements, etc. Another better way to actually learn about jobs you are interested in is to talk to people working in them if you can, or arrange to shadow them. But the best way is to intern if you can.

Now that you are down to the decision making process you should consider your options in the way that you make decisions. If you are a logical decision maker use a pro and con list for each. If you go with your instincts, listen to what your gut is telling you. Once you have made your decision, make your plan.

Creating a support system including a career counselor may be particularly helpful at this juncture.

Starting over or refocusing

If you are already mid-career, but seeking to make a career change you should go through a slightly different process.

The first step is still know yourself, but at a midpoint in your career there are other questions that need to be answered. What things have you liked about your career so far? Working alone, or in a team? Do you like being in charge or being left alone? What paced environment do you need? At this point you will also have to make decisions based partly on income needs as well. Do you have family to support? House payments or other large bills? What skills have helped make you successful to this point? Are you a persuasive speaker or a peacemaker at work? Do you have a head for great ideas, or for laying out the plans to make them reality?

Soliciting help from a career counselor may also help you through this process. Before making a career change, try talking to people in the field you want to pursue. A switch will take hard work and time, but after making your decision and mapping a plan to get there it is possible.

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