If you’ve followed this series, you know that in the past few articles we cleared up the journey of career development. The first step was to âlook inwardâ – to find your professional interests, skills and aptitudes. After looking inward and understanding our own preferences and abilities, we are now looking outward at what is available in front of us. Outside is a world of possibilities!
So today let’s dive into the next two stages – gathering information and exploring opportunities that go hand in hand. After you’ve performed a self-assessment and identified your interests, skills, and values, you can begin researching the different areas, industries, and professions that are catching your attention.
The first step could be talking to your parents, student counselors, or teachers, and they can help you with both online and offline resources. You can also seek help from friends, acquaintances, alumni members and the extended community. Interview everyone you know about their jobs – ask them about details like a typical day, salary range, their skills, and their motivation for doing their job. Attend job fairs, career awareness events, and field trips to learn about the diverse roles and professions in each industry.
In addition, of course, there is the Internet – a great, often free source of information. Start your online search with career advice websites that are run by educational institutions or governments, as such websites are student-centered and offer credible and free advice. Job search pages are also useful for giving you an overview of the jobs and job descriptions in an area.
The author and psychologist Barry Schwartz speaks of a paradox of choice: a multitude of options actually makes it harder for us to be satisfied with our final decision. In order not to feel overwhelmed, we should therefore divide the process into bite-sized decisions by organizing the search.
Research into career clusters
Career clusters are an excellent starting point for your explorations. According to the US National Career Clusters Framework, there are a total of 16 career clusters in six occupational fields – agriculture, food and natural products; Art, communication and information systems; Engineering, manufacturing and technology; Technology for health sciences; Human services; and business, management & administration. Further down, under each cluster group, there are career paths. These are small professional groups with common characteristics, knowledge and skills. For example, in the model discussed above, there are around 80 career paths, each of which lead to multiple career options.
You can also use career match websites to find: careers that match your skills; Professions that match your interests; and careers that match your values. Write these down and examine where careers overlap in these lists.
Now when you find jobs that interest you, take stock of job interests; or if you have created a mind map after the self-assessment, you can add it to the map.
In doing so, you will learn more about a particular profession. When you’re exploring an industry or area, check out the websites and social media pages of some of the companies / organizations that operate in that industry to get an inside look at that area. You can also pick some role models from the industry and follow them on social media. Schools or outside organizations that enable job shadowing can test the field by getting a real sense of the industry by watching a professional at work. For example, you can follow a doctor treating her patients or watch an engineer at work. Work-based learning, internships and volunteering are other ways to gain similar hands-on experience in different areas.
Research into career paths
This involves identifying all the milestones to achieve a particular profession / industry, starting with the subjects (s) required in school, electives, preparation required such as extracurricular / classroom engagement, standardized tests, and required qualifications and training for this position or industry.
It is best to start the exploration process as early as possible while you are still in junior / high school. So you can create a growth and career plan and prepare well in advance.
Dr. Baby Saamuel is the vice chairman of Knowledge Oman and the past chairman of Indian Schools in Oman. You can reach him at [emailÂ protected] for questions or suggestions.