Earlier in the “work/life” blog, it was argued that a question such as “What might be next for me?” can serve as a periodic career “check-in” or can prepare a person for change, especially when change seems likely. How effectively a person answers this question depends a lot on self-knowledge and knowledge of the world of work.
Some people know their interests and abilities well because of their history of education or previous work experiences. Others know their interests through the stories family and friends tell about them—or the stories they tell about themselves. For those who have more difficulty naming interests and abilities, a vocational psychologist can be a good resource for helping to identify such traits. Communities often have career counseling centers associated with universities and colleges with staff who can offer guidance. If you prefer to start on your own, the website www.online.onetcenter.org and the Career Interests Game at the University of Missouri Career Center website are good starting points for recognizing skills and interests respectively.
After self-knowledge, relevant facts about the world of work can also be attained in several ways. Again, past experience plays a role, but not just personal work experience. Some of the most informed people will be those who seek opportunities outside of work—opportunities to play, study, read, volunteer, observe, ask questions, and listen. Such active engagement in one’s world provides a sea of information people draw from when it comes time to make career choices or changes. Also, the online Occupational Outlook Handbook at www.bls.gov/OCO provides practical information about careers, including what people do at work, what type of education is required, and what type of salary people earn.
Finally, knowledge of self and the world of work must be blended together with one’s preferences related to family, geography, education, and a host of other personal values. The time and effort are worth it. Effective career exploration helps to answer that question: “What might be next for me?”
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