Career Guidance

Photo of a student and career counselor in discussing career goals

Clarifying your Career Goals

Discovering your sense of purpose is valuable: it makes it possible for you to develop related skills and to plan a search strategy.  Just remember that in clarifying your goals you are not attempting to:

  • narrow your options to only one single job that would make you happy,
  • make a decision about what you want to do, or have to do, for the rest of your life,
  • squeeze every last dime out of your education through your job in order to make your degree worth it.

You don’t need a final answer now! Most people have an array of related possible career interests, each sharing traits that would make them satisfied with their work. For example, if you know that you enjoy children, athletics, and event planning, you might like working for Special Olympics, running an after-school program, or teaching school while coaching volleyball. We help you to identify the key ingredients you need to be satisfied by your work, so that you can find related options. There are several ways to narrow your focus to the array of characteristics that suits you:

1. Come to the Career Center for individual career counseling and a variety of inventories to assist you in selecting a career:

  • The Strong Interest Inventory (SII) The SII measures your interests and helps you to identify career options that would match you well.  Time estimate: 30-45 minutes to take, 45 minutes to interpret.
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) The MBTI identifies your preferences on four different scales including where you like to focus your attention, the way you look at things and process information, the way you make decisions, and the way in which you deal with the outer world. Your preferences will have an impact on the types of careers you would find most natural and energizing. Time estimate: 30 minute to take, 1 hour to interpret

2. Look for insight through the choices you've made: how do you spend your free time when you feel the time is well-spent?  What attracted you to your major? To Hanover?

3. Ask yourself when your "peak experiences" have occurred, when you became absorbed by an activity because it was deeply rewarding, fun or challenging? Look for patterns these have in common. For example, you may love running on the cross country team, so at first glance you could conclude that running, or sports, would be a good career lead. But when you factor in that you have also loved your leadership roles in your Greek house, you may discover that the common element between them, and the insight you need to remember, is your passion for team building.

4. Sift through your past activities for ideas: make a list of the jobs, volunteer activities and leadership positions that you've had. For each, list 1) the aspects you enjoyed most about it and 2) the things you wish had been true about it (for example, if the hours were bad, note that you like flexible hours; if the supervision was poor, note that you like clear expectations and regular feedback). Comb back through your lists and choose your top 5 traits so that you're ready for the next tip:

5. Visit O*Net to compare jobs and to search for those that match your interests.  Enter a job that might serve as a good starting place, and look at the related jobs that it suggests. Explore those, and the jobs related to them, until you have found a handful that you would enjoy.

6. Try things out! If you're like some people, it may take actual work experience to see how you react to jobs, and to discover what your strengths and preferences are.