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Last updated on 8/21/23

Explore Your Professional Possibilities

To define your career plan, carefully consider your desires, tastes, ideas and interests, and evaluate them realistically in terms of the current job market.

Let’s outline the process in four steps.

In this chapter, you will complete steps 1 and 2 to find out more about yourself, both in terms of who you are and what you want.

In the next chapter, you will move on to steps 3 and 4 to put your career plan into action and test it out in the real world.

The Four-Step Method

Below, we have outlined the process in four consecutive steps that include transiting between your vision and the job market.

  1. Personal exploration: What I like, what I do well, what I know <=> What experiences have allowed me to learn this?

  2. Explore your professional interests and tastes: My preferences, my skills, what do I want? <=> Which profession, sector, type of company can I see myself in?

  3. Visualize yourself in a professional context that attracts you: Where do I see myself fitting in?

  4. Assess the feasibility of your plans: How flexible am I in adapting to the job market?

Step 1: Personal Exploration

Defining your career plan starts with looking at who you are and the type of person you would like to become. Think about your interests, tastes, skills and talents. Think about how these could be put to use in the current job market.

In order to discover who you really are, you should ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do I want to be doing in 5 or 10 years? Let your imagination run wild!

  • Who are the professionals I admire? Teachers, people working in companies or for NGOs, athletes, artists, family, friends and acquaintances, public figures or members of the local community? 

  • Who captures my interest and admiration? What are they doing when that happens? 

  • What do I like? What don’t I like? If you’re not sure what you like, then list everything you don’t like experiencing, doing or encountering, and it will help you understand what you like!

  • What is important to me? What are my values (money, security, helping others, the common good, etc.)?

Here are some examples of values.

Politeness

Sincerity

Love

Responsibility

Freedom

Kindness

Humor

Patience

Duty

Justice

Humility

Boldness

Helping others

Perseverance

Family

Altruism

Tolerance

Respect

Respect for life

Security

It’s not easy to know who you are. Here are some ideas and resources to help you find answers to these questions.

  • Ask those who know you well (friends, relatives, colleagues or a former boss) the following questions:

    • What do you like about me?

    • What are my redeeming qualities?

    • What do I do that is difficult to deal with or understand?

    • What advice would you give me to progress in life?

    • Get them to talk by asking open-ended questions (What? How? Why? Which? etc.)

  • Take a personality test, if you haven't already tried the ones mentioned in the first chapter of this course. Many people find the personality tests to be thought-provoking springboards into personal exploration.

  • Create new encounters, discussions and experiences.

    • Reach out to your professional network. Talk with your teachers and colleagues.

    • Talk about your ideas with a career coach or professionals you meet in person or can contact via social networks.

    • Participate in workshops and meetings with other professionals or jobseekers.

The goal is to be informed, explore, make contact and put yourself in situations to see what you like, what attracts you and what doesn’t. Observe your reactions and emotions, and get to know yourself better.

To finish taking stock of your skills, use the skill list tables you filled out previously. List your main skills, including your:

  • knowledge: what you know well and can use in the workplace.

  • expertise: what you do well and what you enjoy doing.

  • social skills: what strengths allow you to succeed in your interactions.

Over to You!

We recommend using a mind map like the one modeled below to organize your personal exploration:

Mind map for personal exploration.
Mind map for personal exploration

A mind map is a visual representation of your ideas and the actions you want to take. The layout gives you an overview of your whole plan in one quick glance!

You can map it on paper, or you can use one of several mind mapping tools available online or a software program you're comfortable with (the mind map above was created using MS PowerPoint).

Step 2: Your Professional Interests and Tastes

Now that you’ve thought more about who you are, it’s time to explore your professional interests and tastes, such as which sectors, companies and jobs might appeal to you.

There’s only one way to do that, by discovering what possibilities the job market has to offer.

You should seek out encounters and experiences to further your understanding of the job market! Even if you have a good idea about the type of job and company that would suit you, you should still try to discover everything the job market has to offer.

You will probably be surprised, and you’ll certainly discover new ideas to help develop your plan.

  • Reach out to professionals and ask them questions about their job.

  • Visit trade shows and conferences to meet professionals and listen to them talk about their sector, projects and challenges!

  • Do research to see which sectors and professions are up-and-coming. Follow people in the professions that appeal to you on social media. Watch TED talks to find inspiration.

Build up experience if you lack it! Internships, student jobs, company team projects, etc., are all good ways to familiarize yourself with the job market.

Over to You! 

Now expand your mind map to include your preferences in terms of sectors, companies and jobs. Explore ideas! Nothing is set in stone.

Mind map expanded into an exploration of professional interest.
Mind map expanding into an exploration of professional interests and tastes

Let's Recap!

Several steps are necessary to build your career plan. Here are the first two.

  • Get to know yourself better, including your qualities, values, skills, etc.

  • Explore your professional interests and tastes, including your desires in terms of jobs, sector, business type, etc. You will need to explore the job market to fully understand what the job is like and fine-tune your choices as a result.

You have now completed two steps in developing your career plan. Take the time to discuss them with others and think about your choices.

Now you're ready to move on to the next chapter and start steps 3 and 4.

  • Visualize a professional context that appeals to you.

  • Assess the feasibility of your career choices.

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Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement