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Career Research

What should my major be? What career should I pursue? 

Not sure where to begin? No problem! The six action-oriented steps in the process are components of a decision-making process recommended by many career counselors. With each step, you will build your decision-making skills, develop confidence, and increase your chances of being satisfied with your decision.

Career Decision-making steps


Step 1: Learn the Basics of Decision-Making

These resources will help you become a better decision-maker by introducing you to a recommended process for making sound, realistic, and satisfying decisions. These steps will also help you to make an informed major or career decision:

  • How to Be a Better Decision-Maker (.pdf)
    A introduction to a series of steps that will help you make any decision
  • Before Choosing Your Direction... (.pdf)
    Some points to consider before beginning the career decision-making process
  • An Introduction to the Career Decision-Making Process
    (under revision)
    This publication describes a process that is effective for making a major/career decision. Specific suggestions are offered for each step in the process.


Step 2: Complete a Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is the process of gathering and understanding information about yourself -- your interests, personality, skills, values, and preferences. Of course, getting to know yourself is the task of a lifetime, but it is also the essential first step in the career decision-making process.

  • Online Career Assessment Tools
    This is a list of web sites containing free online career assessments and inventories.
  • Paper Career Assessment Tools
    • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
      A paper-and-pencil inventory that lets you examine your style of communicating, making decisions, and planning, and then relate your style to work environments. 
    • Strong Interest Inventory
      A paper-and-pencil inventory that can show you how your interests compare to those of professionals in hundreds of occupations.


Step 3: Explore Majors

Researching and gathering information about your academic options will help you to determine the major(s) that will help you prepare for the careers you have in mind. You can also gather information about potential careers at the same time.

The following resources will help you learn how to conduct your research:

The following resources provide information about majors:

The following web sites offer online career assessments and inventories to help you evaluate your interests, work values, abilities and skills, and personality traits.

  • Candid Career
    Gain access to the career advice of industry professionals, and see it  all on Video! features informational interviews to  help you discover and explore your many career options.  Search by  Industry, Career Title, College Major or Keywords.  Gain honest and  valuable insight from the men and women working in a particular field.
  • Career Finder 
    Take the Career Finder survey to identify your personality traits as they relate to majors.  Then explore careers related to those majors.  This resource is free and located in your Career Connections account in the Resources tab. 
  • Career Coach 
    PA Career Coach is designed to help you find a good career by providing the most current local data on wages, employment, job postings, and associated education and training. Get started by typing in your name and zip code above; then simply search for an occupation by category or keyword.
  • Keirsey Temperament Sorter
    Fill in a questionnaire of about 70 questions, which is automatically scored on the Web. Your results will be in the form of Myers-Briggs Types, and suggestions of appropriate careers are made. Free.
  • Career Assessment Tools and Tests
    The Quintessential Careers web site offers links to a variety of online career assessments and tools. Some are free; and some are fee-based.
  • Jobs Made Real -
    Jobs Made Real is a website developed and owned by Chop's Teen Club, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa, California. Jobs Made Real is part of the Chop's Teen Club Workforce Program, designed to aid teens in discovering their career path. The website features thousands of videos of people describing and engaged in doing their jobs and provides statistical data on job forecast and career information. It is educational in nature, while also engaging with elements of entertainment


Step 4: Explore Careers

Career exploration is exactly what it sounds like...conducting research on the world of work before deciding what career to pursue.

The following resources provide occupational/career information and help you learn how to conduct your research:

  • Informational Interviews (.pdf document)
    Want to know what a career is really like? This publication describes how to get career information by talking with people who are working in the field.
  • Job Shadowing (.pdf document)
    Shadowing someone is another way to gain a better understanding of an occupation or career field that interests you.
  • Worksheet for Researching Occupations (.pdf document)
    This worksheet will help you to research occupations of interest to you and provide the information you need to make an effective career decision.


Step 5: Weigh the Options

This step moves you from self-assessment and research to evaluating your alternatives and making a commitment to one of them. It provides a way to examine the information carefully, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative, and make a choice.


Step 6: Implement a Plan for Success

Visit our Career Planning Information Center to determine your next steps. They will help you to confirm your career choice, get experience, and develop the skills valued by employers and/or graduate schools.