Discovering your career direction and developing career goals requires two types of information: understanding yourself and exploring various career options that are compatible with your interests, values, and skills. Its an ongoing process and it can be helpful to review our resources and/or work with a career advisor who can suggest options and provide support along the way.
Exploration of self and options
Understanding your interests, what you are good at, and what you like doing will help you find job satisfaction in your first positionand beyond. Your interests and skills develop over time, so your career goals are likely to change as well. Developing an initial focus will help you narrow your options and target employers of interest or potential graduate programs. Its okay if you change your mind as you discover more about yourself, available opportunities, and employers. Think of it as a learning opportunity! Explore our website and meet with a career advisor to learn how to navigate your career decision-making so you can approach it in a manageable and sequential way.
Career exploration consists of several components, but only you can do this work. HFA Career Services is here to support and guide you, but we are not a job or internship placement office. Our work is a partnership with you that, to be successful, requires you to think about and be willing to consider and engage with the following:
- Finding purpose (research, reflection, career assessments, careers course)
- Building employable skills (via coursework, LinkedIn Learning, etc.)
- Gaining experience (job shadowing, internships, volunteering, part-time jobs)
- Establishing relationships (networking)
- Telling your story (profiles, resumes, cover letters, interviewing)
- Finding success (jobs, service programs, grad school)
Research: yourself and different career paths
- Take a career self-assessment to gain insights about your interests, values, personality, and workplace preferences. Debrief with a career advisor afterward to gain further insights.
- Reach out to alumni and others doing the type of work you are interested in or curious about to chat with them and learn more. This is a type of networking called informational interviewing.
- Schedule a time to meet with HFA Career Services for help with finding options and discovering opportunities. (To schedule a meeting, log in to your Handshake account and click on Career Center on the left-hand side of the page. From there, click on Appointments > Schedule a New Appointment > HFA Career Advising, then choose a time and date that work for you).
- Explore HFA majors, career paths, and internships that align with your unique gifts and purpose using What Can I Do With this Major.
- Activate your Handshake account to access jobs, internships, and career fairs and to schedule career or internship advising appointments.
- Attend career events and internship fairs (found on Handshake).
- Get career advice by connecting with alumni on Connect UMass, where you can also join interest-specific career communities.
- Take a career course to explore the many possibilities available to you and gain valuable career skills!
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified eight key competencies (also known as transferable skills) that prepare students and new graduates to launch and enter their careers. Students can develop all of them over time through a variety of experiences (internships, community service, part-time jobs, clubs, and activities, among others), and they apply to many career fields. They are the traits that employers say they value most and actively seek in those they hire. Seek opportunities that will help you develop the following key abilities:
- Career & Self-Development
Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization.
- Critical Thinking
Identify and respond to needs based on an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information.
Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization.
- Equity & Inclusion
Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.
Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals.
Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.
Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.
Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
Resources to help
Here are some professional development ideas and resources to build your career versatility and confidence.
- LinkedIn Learning, an on-demand video learning platform, is a great way to evaluate, build, and enhance skills. Consider taking courses to improve your skills in software: Microsoft products, Adobe products, or Google.
- Consider adding one or more of these practical and applied UMass Amherst minors and certificate programs to an HFA Major: The Information Technology Minor, a Business Minor, such as Professional Writing and Technical Communication, through the English department, or the Arts Management Certificate Program, among many other pre-professional programs.
- Look through skills-based certificates available through UMass Online, such as Graphic Design and Digital Imaging, Paralegal Studies, Sustainable Food and Farming, Website Design and Development, Digital Marketing, Translation and Interpretation, or Multimedia Applications.
- Look for skills-based courses in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) world: EdX, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning or Udemy.
Career Development by year
Check out the Milestones Checklist on the Career Development Hub website!