Are you looking for ideas on the best way to conduct student career research? Regardless of where you are in terms of completing your education, it's never too early to start looking for information that can help you make up your mind about what profession is best for you and to identify the best way to get prepared to enter the field of your choice once you make a decision.
Resources for Student Career Research
Guidance Counselor or Advisor
If you are currently attending school, you are probably assigned to a guidance counselor or course advisor who can provide you with information about how to research the different types of careers you may be interested in pursuing. Speak with your counselor or advisor candidly about your ideas regarding your future career. If you know what profession you'd like to pursue, ask for advice about what steps you can take to get prepared for the field you have chosen. If you aren't yet certain what type of work you want to do, discuss your skills and interests with your counselor or advisor so that he or she can help you identify occupations that may be a good fit for you.
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Occupational Outlook Handbook
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, a publication of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is an excellent resource for student career research. The handbook provides details about hundreds of different jobs, including descriptions of what is involved with each position, the education and training necessary to enter and get ahead in the field, realistic pay expectations, and more. You can utilize the online version of the publication free, or you can order a printed copy if you'd prefer to have the actual book. The handbook is updated every other year. Occupations are published by alphabetical order, with cross reference notations for related occupations. If you are using the online version, you can search for key phrases that match your areas of interest.
Once you've narrowed down your career choices to a few fields, it may be a good idea for you to schedule informational interviews with professionals who are working in the occupations that interest you the most. This can be an excellent way to find out what's really involved in doing the job on a day to day basis. Professional associations, such as the Public Relations Society of American and the Society for Human Resource Management, are a good resource for identifying individuals who may be willing to meet with you for this purpose.
Do an Internet search to find out if there is a local chapter of a professional organization in the field that you want to work in. Once you locate the nearest organization, check the group's website to see if there is a board member assigned to student relations or workforce development. Make contact with him or her, or with the chapter president if the association does not have anyone assigned to such a role, and inquire about possible assistance.
If you are able to schedule an interview with a professional in the fields you are considering, be sure to do your homework ahead of time. Create a list of questions before the appointment so that you are able to make a positive impression by coming across as both knowledgeable and professional.
Internship or Volunteer Work
Depending on the type of career you are interested in pursuing, it may be possible for you to gain first hand experience by performing volunteer work or seeking an unpaid internship position. If this opportunity is available to you, there's no better way to develop a solid understanding of whether or not a particular occupation might be right for you. Your guidance counselor or advisor may be a good resource for finding internship opportunities. Contact nonprofit organizaiotions in your community or see VolunteerMatch.org if you are interested in seeking volunteer experience.
Preparing for Your Future Career
The decisions you make now about what type of work you want to perform in the future are important ones, and should not be made lightly. The efforts you put into student career research now can help you make wise decisions that will allow you to be as prepared as possible when it comes time for you to make decisions about occupational training and employment.