Who to Contact
- SCDC Main Office
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What is the difference between a job and a career? At first this may seem like mere semantics but when you think about your future, the difference becomes clear. A job is a way to earn a living. Your summer employment at that convenience store or as a lifeguard is a job. You receive a salary, enjoy the people you work with, but probably don’t want to do it the rest of your life. In contrast, a career is a chosen field of work that has the potential for growth and advancement. It incorporates your interests, values, skills and strengths to provide long term fulfillment. A career may include different jobs over its span but it is the progression and satisfaction that separates it from just earning a living. At the Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC) we want you to think in terms of finding a career, not just a job when you graduate.
Drexel University has many resources available to help you begin exploring your career opportunities, some of which are listed here:
- COOP 101: COOP 101 is a course designed, developed, and offered exclusively at Drexel for students about to begin the Cooperative Education experience. This course is designed to teach critical skills and approaches for achieving success in finding and mastering your co-op and for conducting your job search after graduation.
- Individual Career Advising: Your co-op coordinator is assigned to you by major. They are a good resource for both co-op and career opportunities in your field. Not sure about your major? You can meet with the Career Counselor who can assist you not only with the selection of a major but also with setting appropriate educational and career goals.
- Career Assessments: A number of assessments are available through the SCDC. They include the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, 16PF– Personal Career Development Profile, and Learning and Study Strategies Inventory. These assessments are administered and interpreted by a certified career counselor in the SCDC and can help you to clarify your interests as they relate to potential career choices.
- Individual Pre-professional Advising: If you are interested in going into a career in medicine or the law, you may contact one of SCDC’s pre-professional advisors.
- Career Services Library Assistant and the SCDC Resource Room: The SCDC has a dedicated Library Assistant who can help you with your career search. She can assist you with how to use library databases, effectively using the internet, researching the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and finding ASK JENNY – I CAN’T READ HER COMMENT. In addition, the SCDC has a resource room, currently housed in the Hagerty Library, that contains resources on resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, job opportunities in particular industries, career exploration, internship/co-op opportunities, what to do with a particular major or field of study, study guides for standardized tests, professional and graduate programs, and more.
Sometimes people are influenced by unfounded beliefs or myths as they proceed through the career decision-making process. These myths can hinder or slow down that process. In an effort to avoid these pitfalls, we encourage you to think through your own assumptions about your career choice. Which of the following myths have influenced you?
MYTH #1: “Somewhere there is an expert, book, or test that can tell me exactly what to do.”
FACT: There are approximately 80,000 occupations from which to choose in the U.S. today. Most interest inventories or tests include approximately 100 to 200 of these occupations. These tests can assess only selected aspects of you and your interests—thus giving you valid, but limited, information. Tests and books can promote self-examination and assist with career information, but they are only one part of the complex process of career exploration. Your co-op coordinator is another important part of the process. He or she can help guide you through the career decision-making process, providing valuable information and drawing focus on important pieces. But it is you and your involvement in the career exploration process that will tell you what career to enter.
MYTH #2: “Only unmotivated students are undecided about their college major or future career.”
FACT: Approximately one-half of all college students will change their major at least once. In fact, the average undergraduate student changes academic majors three times prior to graduation. Your college years are meant as a time for you to explore different career options and try new things - co-op is part of this.
MYTH #3: “There is only one right job for me.”
FACT: There are two important responses to this myth. You are a multifaceted individual with varying interests and abilities. You will not do a job exactly the same way, or follow the exact same career path, as anybody else. The key now is to take all of your strengths, talents, and abilities and turn them into a career that you’ll love. But that doesn’t mean you have to find that career this week. Within your overall plan it is wise to have short-term career goals and long-term career goals. Consider how your many attributes will fit into these plans, and gradually refine your career search. During this time, it’s also helpful to note what talents or skills you have that you won’t necessarily apply in the workplace, but will instead be reserved for your free time.
MYTH #4: “Once I enter my chosen career or profession, I will have to work in that career until I retire.”
FACT: The average person will change jobs, even careers, seven times in his or her lifetime. Economic growth, tremendous technological change, and increased mobility will cause even greater change possibilities. But even these factors aren’t the last word in career changes. If you have a change of interests, desire advancement, are looking for a new challenge, want to meet new people, or want to start own business, you can.
MYTH #5: “When considering careers, I should only consider those jobs that pay well and are readily available now.”
FACT: While it’s important to consider present labor market conditions and salaries, it is also important to consider future labor trends. Jobs that are plentiful now, may not be in the future. Consider the growing international and technical economic trends. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) annually publishes salaries received by graduating college seniors. This will give you some information about present salaries and labor supply and demand.
Now that you’ve read about some of the myths around career exploration, it is time to consider some of the ways that you can reject the myths and start reaching your full career potential. Career development is a process, a life-long process that will grow and change as you gain more experience and develop your interests. It will also change as your chosen field advances. To help you in this process it is important to remember what is most important to you, to research the opportunities, and to develop a way to evaluate your choices.
I. Get to Know Yourself
If you could go out right this minute and buy a car, what would it be? SUV, sports car, pick-up truck? What color would you get and what options would you order? The answers to these questions reflect your personal likes and interests. Would you get a standard or automatic? That would depend on your skill at driving a stick. Would cost be a consideration in your decision? How about the miles per gallon rating, even a hybrid? These questions reflect your personal values. So in selecting the car that is the perfect fit for you, you need to consider your interests, skills, and values.
The first step in the career process is similar to buying that car. What are your interests? What are your skills and strengths? What values are important to you in a work environment? Unlike the car where you probably have some well-developed ideas, determining the career which is your perfect fit will take some reflection. You can quickly identify your interests but are you as clear on your skills and strengths? Hard skills are the easiest: good at math, whiz with computers, musically talented. Have you identified your soft skills? Attributes like leadership, problem solver, team player, and organized are valued by employers and can make you successful in your career. What other things are important to you in a workplace? You must consider things such as location, salary, potential for growth, the company’s mission, security, challenging work, and help to others and society. These are your personal values. Can you be happy and successful if the corporate culture is contrary to your personal values? Probably not.
Self-assessment will help you to identify and prioritize your interests, values, abilities, skills and personality traits. It will help establish that the components of a particular career are in sync with the components that make up you. To help you get to know yourself, you can take advantage of the previously mentioned assessments administered by the SCDC. Or you can try one of the many assessments that are available on the internet. In addition, there are also a number of good books that you may want to reference. Some of these include:
- Do What You Are, by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger (New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2007)
- What Color is your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2007)
- Kick Off Your Career by Kate Wendleton (Florence, KY: Thomas Delmar Learning, 2002)
- The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1998)
II. Research your Opportunities
When you have a clearer picture of your interests and talents, you can start to match these to potential career fields. There are a number of resources that can get you started. In addition to those listed in the Overview, you may want to explore some of the following:
- Co-op and Career Guides : The SCDC has compiled a series of guides to provide information about academic majors and their prospective career paths. These guides include lists of employers who have hired Drexel students, job titles, and salary information. These guides can be used by both co-op and graduating students to gather information in searching for jobs as well as declaring/changing majors. They are available in the SCDC office.
- Career Fairs: Drexel University hosts two major Career Fairs each year, in the fall and in the spring. These are opportunities to see what companies are hiring for which majors. You can talk to the employers to get a feel for the culture of the company and how it would fit your values and goals. In addition to the two main career fairs, other major specific events are held on campus throughout the year.
- On campus Networking Events: Throughout the year there are events organized by specific employers, the SCDC and the individual colleges. They are often referred to as “meet and greets.” The purpose is to meet representatives of a particular company, many of whom are Drexel Alumni, in a professional yet relaxed setting to learn more about the organization and potential careers. It is an opportunity to network and develop contacts.
- Informational Interviews: One of the best sources of information can be found by interviewing professionals in the field. This is called informational interviewing. Informational interviewing provides you with the opportunity to learn about specific jobs, careers, and companies. An informational interview is a chance for you to ask someone first-hand what it’s like to work in a particular field.
- Professional Organizations: Join professional organizations in your field of interest or attend their networking events. To find the names and contact information for relevant organizations try the Encyclopedia of Associations which you can access through Hagerty Library.
- Online Resources: There are many online resources that provide information about potential careers. For example;
- O*Net online Created by the U.S. Department of Labor, you can find occupations, browse job families, identify high growth industries, and search by skills.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook This resource from the U.S. Department of Labor includes the nature of the work, training required, projections of future job growth, salary averages, and related occupations.
- America's Careerinfonet This site includes career information, employment trends and projections, general career sites, search engine career pages, and work and life issues.
- Career Profiles Search (NACE) From the National Association of Colleges and Employers this site will allow you to search by major or job title. It includes descriptions of the work, qualifications and skills needed, salary ranges, and types of employers.
There are also numerous resources listed on Drexel’s career library web site.
“Real Life” experience is a valuable way to focus your career goals and research possible career paths. Here are some opportunities for you to examine your career options:
- Co-op – One of the first opportunities to explore your career path is co-op. Whether you are clear about the industry in which you want to work or just starting to explore your options, co-op can be invaluable in making career choices. Large or small company, public or non-profit, co-op will give you the opportunity to experience several different professional settings and help you determine the best overall fit for you. It can expose you to trends and issues within a given field, provide you with an idea of the different opportunities that are available, and expose you to networking connections that will benefit you long after your co-op is over.
- Co-op Abroad - Industry and commerce are becoming more global each year. Co-op abroad offers the opportunity to gain international field experience while broadening your understanding of different cultures. Click on Co-op Abroad for more information about these programs.
- Externships – An externship is a good way to experience first hand what the day to day operation of a career in a particular industry is like. It is an opportunity to shadow a working professional. It can last a day, a week, or longer. It gives you a view into the real world and gives you the opportunity to make networking connections for the future. Most externships are unpaid.
- Volunteer – Look for opportunities to become involved with activities that are related to your field. Check with local industry-related organizations for upcoming events. Consider joining student organizations on campus related to your goals.
- Part-time jobs – When pursuing a part-time or summer job, investigate those that will give you exposure to the field you are considering.