The Career Planning Process
The career planning process is comprised of three major parts: self-assessment, occupational assessment, and career implementation. It is a process that can start any time during the college years, but generally the earlier the better. The emphasis of this process is to learn how to make career-related decisions as they come up. It is a technique that can be utilized to decide an academic major, which activities to be involved in, whether or not to take a semester abroad, what summer experiences to choose, and what full-time occupation to pursue.
Our goal in the Career Center is to educate all Augustana students about the career planning process and to assist them in all phases of development during their time at the college. We believe that the idea of career planning is an important component of a liberal arts education and should be integrated into each student's college experience. We also believe that students are ready to assimilate different parts of this process at different times, and we have developed our programs accordingly.
The self-awareness component involves knowing what questions to ask yourself in order to become aware of your personal preferences and priorities. It is learning to examine an experience for its component parts. Why was a particular class so enjoyable? Was it the material? The professor? The time of day? The fact that you did well? Looking at experiences in this way enables students to discover elements that will be important to their future job satisfaction. The object of this part of the process is to become self-aware and to monitor and adapt to changes in interests, motivations, skills, and work values as they occur. Again, career planning is a process, not an exercise with a specific end point.
Once a student has determined a set of personal priorities for a decision, the next step is to generate and investigate as many options as possible. Obviously, ideas formulated from a base of knowledge are much more likely to satisfy the personal goals involved in the decision. Assessing the feasibility of career options requires knowing how to obtain and utilize information from written resources, technical resources, and from human resources. During this phase of the process students are taught how to transfer researching skills they have developed in an academic context to a career context. Each option can then be weighed against personal priorities, facilitating realistic decision making.
The last phase of the career planning process involves taking the necessary action to put a decision into effect. It includes the steps to find a specific summer job, internship, or full-time employment opportunity. This requires "know how" on resume writing, interviewing, and job hunting strategies. While this information may be new for students, it is not particularly hard to grasp. Difficulties arise most often when inadequate time has been spent on the self-assessment and occupational assessment phases of the process. Information about job hunting is important, but a positive attitude and a solid base of self-confidence are even more important for successful completion of this phase.