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Career Exploration

Whether you have a specific career in mind or are exploring your options, these tools can help you achieve your career goals.

Self-Assessment

The first step to any successful job search—whether academic or nonacademic—is careful self-reflection and assessment of values, interests, and skills. By discovering who you are and what you want, you are better able to focus your career exploration and narrow your job search options.

Here are a few additional benefits of a self-assessment:

  • Reflection and self-assessment exercises provide the material to create persuasive résumés, CVs, and cover letters.
  • People who dedicate time and effort to self-assessment distinguish themselves in résumés, CVs, and cover letters, receive higher ratings from interviewers, and are offered more jobs.
  • After receiving jobs, they are also more likely to be satisfied because they have taken the time to find the proper fit.

Do you want to know more about some of the careers people with advanced degrees pursue? Check out the page on career opportunities.

Informational Interviews

Once you have some career options in mind, get in-depth knowledge of the field by talking to people in this career. These informational interviews are the best way to research career options.

There are many benefits of informational interviews:

  • Get an inside view of field, leading to better applications materials and interviews.
  • Increase your network in your career of interest.
  • Learn how to best prepare for this career.

Are you interested in becoming more prepared for your career? Read about ways to gain experience while still in school.

Meet with a Career Adviser

Next to informational interviewing, the best resource for self-assessment and career exploration is a career adviser. Talking about your interests, values, and skills with someone else can be very valuable.

General Career Exploration Resources

Versatile PhD

A community discussion about careers outside academe.

Graduate College Career Development Office LinkedIn Group

Find tips and resources for career exploration; network with Illinois graduate students, alumni, and postdocs; and learn about upcoming career-related events.

Professional associations and trade journals

Trade journals and professional organizations can be powerful resources for career exploration. They can provide information about career paths and are a starting point for networking.