Making a reasonable career plan can be broken down into three essential steps, represented by the questions:
What? Where? How?
What kind of work is right for someone with your interests, skills, values, attributes, needs and aspirations? In what kind of work will you find the greatest satisfaction? Or: In what kind of work can you develop the skills and track record necessary to move into or toward your chosen field?
To answer this question, you'll need a lot of information about yourself: what you're good at, what kind of work attracts you, what work would be congruent with your personal values. What have you done in the past that made you feel successful and satisfied with your effort? Don't consider only work situations; even academic activities, sports, hobbies and volunteer work can help you with this evaluation.
You may find interest and skills surveys and other career tests helpful. Click online career interest tests to sample a few.
Where does this kind of work take place? In what kind of organization or setting? Is it geographically specific (working as a ski instructor, for example, or an oceanographer)? Where are people successfully using the skills you want to use and getting the rewards you want to get?
To answer this question, you'll need information about the whole spectrum of occupations and professions. You'll need resources such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Department of Labor. And you'll have to start identifying prospective employers. You can find them by looking in published employment ads, reading journals and professional newsletters in your field of interest, searching the Internet, and the online member directory of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
How do you get the job? How do you get employers to consider your qualifications and offer you the job?
Believe it or not, this is the easiest of the three. Once you have a clear occupational (or even short-term employment) goal and can identify places where such work can be found, it's relatively simple to create a sales campaign with you as the product. You'll need a résumé and cover letter, and you'll want to prepare for interviews. You'll continue to learn about the process, and sharpen your view of your objective and your qualifications, as you present yourself to employers for their consideration.
Best of all, you're not alone. Get started while you have a support system in place, even if you're confused and uncertain. Career Education, your academic department, alumni with experience in various fields, library resources and the Internet, all can help you get a clearer picture of where you'd like to go and how to get there. That's the career planning process, and you'll be glad you started early and used the resources available at Arcadia.