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Frozen in a COVID Time Warp? Initiate a Career Breakthrough

Never stop exploring.Photo by Dale Brooks from Pexels

Krista Kelly

Stuck at home and still can’t answer, “What are my future career options?” Try these 5 career planning tips.

Are you feeling like your career plans are suddenly on hold? You are not alone; both in terms of those lingering worries that your career preparation has abruptly come to a screeching halt, but also because of the support available from your friendly campus career team! In fact, making proactive use of this time at home to reset, brainstorm, and initiate your career goals will put you on track to jumpstart your career as communities begin to reopen for business.

Whether you expected this month to mark your graduation and launch into the world of professional work or the start of a summer job and parties with friends and family (believe it or not, employment opportunities are still out there – check out our Job Searching During the COVID Pandemic article), you may instead be left with seemingly endless amounts of time at home wondering what you can do now. Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen; set yourself apart from the many others doing just that and get yourself organized now so you know exactly what you want out of your future career and how to get there! Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.

Here are five tips to jumpstart your career development and exploration.

Actively assess what you have and what you want career-wise

Feel like you don’t even know where to start when investigating your career options? Taking time to truly assess yourself and your career needs can get the ball rolling. This can be as simple as making a written inventory of your skills, abilities, interests, values, personal characteristics, and work preferences that may influence your career decisions.

If you want to take your self-assessment a step further, Career Development & Experiential Learning (CDEL) offers a variety of professional career assessments that allow you to take a deep dive into your career and lifestyle interests and goals. A trained career advisor will meet with you to review your results and collaboratively connect them to career options.

In addition to the more robust assessments offered by CDEL, the Know Yourself tab of the Government of Alberta’s career, learning, and employment information website, ALIS, offers a series of brief career quizzes that tackle everything from career interests and abilities to workplace preferences. While you should tread carefully as some other information provided on this site is specific to the province of Alberta (think employment outlook, wage information, and training requirements), ALIS offers a thorough, hands-on guide to career planning that may help with other aspects of your career exploration.

Look beyond the obvious and discover what careers are out there for you.

Even years after graduation, many people are still in the dark when it comes to what job they want to pursue. Do you find yourself asking, “What can I do with my degree?” Think of this time as an opportunity to figure out what occupations align with your skills, abilities, and degree program and do some research to determine the best path for you.

Canada’s Job Bank is an excellent resource for investigating careers and the labour market based on data from Stats Canada. Use the Field of Study tab to gain career information for graduates from your program of study and the Job Profiles tab for detailed job descriptions, duties, wages, career prospects, skills, and training requirements.

Rather than focusing just on job titles, it is often as, if not more, useful to figure our what industries and companies offer jobs related to your skillset. IBISWorld, which can be accessed through Leddy Library, offers comprehensive reports on Canada’s most important industries. This will help you look beyond the obvious for industries that may interest you. Learn more about the industry’s products and services, outlook, major companies, challenges, and opportunities.

On top of these more established career research sites, don’t be afraid to simply Google careers in your field and then plug them into Job Bank to gain more thorough information.

Use LinkedIn to see where graduates from your field are working

LinkedIn is an important resource for networking and job searching, but it can also be used as a crafty way to discover interesting (and sometimes unexpected) career paths taken by those who have come before you.

Use LinkedIn’s search bar to pull up the University of Windsor’s page and click on the Alumni tab. Here, you can search the profiles of over 75,000 alumni, narrowing your search using keywords and preselected criteria, such as academic program of study or employer. By viewing the profiles of former students, you can see where their degrees took them and what it took to get there.

Conduct informational interviews to gain firsthand career advice

One of the best ways to learn the ins and outs of a career is to talk to people actually working in your job, industry, or company of interest. Informational interviews give you a chance to do just that. Many people working in interesting careers are finding themselves at home just like you, so use this time to set up conversations to gather valuable career information and advice (like what it took to get there, what skills are required in their line of work, and what opportunities are available) and build new relationships with individuals who could influence your career opportunities in the future.

Starting with friends, family, and existing network contacts is easiest, but consider taking your career research a step further using the LinkedIn tip above to develop a new connection. An easy and less intimidating way to start a coffee chat with a new contact is through UWindsor’s Ten Thousand Coffees platform. By registering for this site, you will be sent a virtual coffee chat connection each month with another user who can act as a mentor in your career development.

Unsure how to find a contact, make the connection, or ask the right questions? CDEL provides advice and resources to make your informational interviews a success.

Stay tuned later this week for tips and tricks to ace a virtual or telephone interview. While in an information interview, you become the interviewer, the same verbal and nonverbal communication tips still apply.

Talk to a CDEL career advisor for help researching and developing your career plans

Don’t forget, while tackling these big career questions may seem intimidating, CDEL is here to help! Whether you want to take an assessment, chat about career options, learn how to use career research sites, or simply have an outlet for your career development fears, reach out and make a career appointment through mySuccess!

 

Krista Kelly is a Career Consultant with Career Development & Experiential Learning.