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8 Ways to Explore Career Options

Last updated May 28, 2024

With so many potential career options and pathways to choose from, you may be unsure of where or how to start exploring ones that interest you. Career exploration starts with taking some time to research and explore different industries. This exploration can help you feel better prepared to apply for jobs and internships, choose a college major, and decide on a career path that aligns with your passions and goals! We share eight ways you can explore career options.

Watch career videos from The Way

There is no one path to finding a fulfilling career! Our video series, The Way, highlights stories from people in a variety of careers and industries. From being a chocolate maker to a news anchor, there's a career story that can help you find your way! You can explore stories based on specific career paths that interest you or by the experience level of the person sharing their story. 

Think of careers as stepping stones

Did you know that the average person changes careers at least twice in their life? Just because you start out as an accountant doesn't mean you can't try a career as a social media strategist, writer, chef, nurse, or filmmaker! When it comes to careers, nothing is permanent. If you think of your career as a stepping stone, you can stay open to exploring new interests and talents throughout it. The key is to stay curious!

Make a career plan

There is more than one path to get to your destination! We recommend making a simple plan of your desired career path(s). This plan can help you sketch out the steps you may need to take to get into that career path. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you make your plan:

  • What educational requirements may I need to fulfill?
  • What job, volunteer, or internship experience do I need?
  • Who do I know already established in this career that I can talk to?
  • Does this career path align with my values and goals?
  • Will I be happy in this career?

It’s important to remember that your answers to these questions when you’re 16 years old may be different from when you’re 26. Coming back to this kind of self-reflection frequently is a great way of keeping in touch with your values and goals.

Consider your strengths and passions

Everyone has strengths and passions! Do you enjoy working with children or the elderly? Are you analytical and love solving problems? Have you always enjoyed building things and working with your hands? No matter what your passions and strengths are, there's most definitely a career or job connected to them. By taking some time to consider these things, you can research careers from the heart with clearer goals and visions in mind!

Hold informational interviews

Informational interviews are one of the best ways to learn more about the career or industry you’re interested in, directly from a person who’s working in it. You can ask someone you already know or reach out to a person whose job interests you on LinkedIn to request an informational interview with them. Informational interviews are typically brief and give the interviewer a chance to ask the person they're interviewing all about their job, education, career path, goals, and more. Holding informational interviews can help you narrow down potential career paths and decide if a path you were interested in is still the right fit for you.

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Seek mentorship

A mentor is someone typically in the same career as you that can provide advice, guidance, and can connect you to other people in their field. A good mentor will give you advice when you need it, hold you accountable so you're making progress toward your goals, and encourage you to keep going if challenges arise. You can ask someone you hold an informational interview with if they're open to being your mentor, or connect with someone on LinkedIn who is open to mentoring. There are also organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters or MENTOR that offer resources in your community to support.

Intern and volunteer

Gaining firsthand experience in the career or industry you’re interested in goes a long way! Not only will this experience help you determine if this career path is the right fit for you, it will also be an extremely valuable addition to your resume! Read our guide on finding jobs and internships in college here, and learn how to find your next volunteer opportunity here.

Take a career assessment test

Career assessment tests can be found online, typically for free. These assessments can help you identify your strengths, personality traits, and interests to match you to possible careers you might excel at in the future. We recommend the free career assessment from IndigoPathway because it’s quick and focuses on building from your motivations and strengths! Even if you don't think the career options are a good match, they can help you begin your career exploration.

Have any questions about jobs, careers, or exploring career options? Text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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