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Building Your Career Foundation

Think of your career journey as a pyramid: By building a strong foundation, we are confident that you will gain the insight needed to explore, prepare for, and pursue the opportunities that best fit your skills and experience. 

Throughout your career, it is essential and expected that you will continuously evaluate yourself and how you make decisions. It’s ok to not have all the answers figured out immediately; they will come with time! 

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Assessment is the essential base that includes investigating your interests, skills, personality, strengths, career readiness, and values. It also includes reflecting on past, present, and future experiences and how you make decisions.

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Exploration helps you gain an understanding of your career 
options by:

  • Building connections/ networking
  • Maximizing LinkedIn and Handshake
  • Conducting informational interviews and job shadowing
  • Volunteering 
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Preparation is all about completing the necessary steps to achieve your goals:

  • Creating a master copy of your resume
  • Creating sample cover letters
  • Identifying and contacting references
  • Completing relevant experiences 
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Pursuit is where you act on the steps needed to reach your next goal:

  • Searching for jobs
  • Developing interviewing skills
  • Evaluating offers
  • Applying to graduate and professional school programs

Make an Appointment with Career Services!


The information below is designed to focus on building a strong foundation. We highly recommend making an appointment with our office to further guide and support you in making.  


Since you will likely spend over 90,000 hours (about 10.5 years) of your life working, it makes sense to pick an academic program and positions that you enjoy and will continue to want to learn about over the years. Consider the following questions to reflect:

  • What do you enjoy learning about?
  • What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
  • What tasks or activities give you the most energy? Which do you dread?
  • What classes have you taken so far that you enjoy? Why?
  • What classes have you not enjoyed? Why?
  • What activities have you been involved with in high school or college? What drew you to those activities?
  • Do you have a dream job? What would you be doing?
  • What was your most fulfilling experience and why?
  • What internships or extracurricular activities have you enjoyed or not enjoyed?
  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • What challenges or issues do you want to tackle and why?
  • When are you at your best?
  • Who are your role models and why?
  • Do you know what you do not want to do and why? 

In addition, conducting informational interviews and job shadows are great ways to continue brainstorming information about your interests. See our Networking and LinkedIn page for more information.

Looking to learn even more or better articulate how your interests connect to potential career options? Take a look at the O*NET Interest Profiler

The skills and strengths you have and enjoy using may lead to occupations that will appeal to you. 

  • Using which of your top skills makes you feel the most confident?
  • What have supervisors, teachers, colleagues, and peers said you are good at?
  • Which academic subjects do you get the best grades?
  • What qualities or strengths do you feel you bring to an employer?
  • Where are the gaps between your current skillset and where you would like to be?
  • What is challenging for you? Where do you want to improve? 

In addition to self-reflection, the following tools can be helpful think about these areas: 

Skills Matcher
This assessment takes you through a series of questions that allow you to identify skills and activities you have. This leads to a customized Skills Profile that includes:

  • Summary of identified skills and work activities
  • List of occupations matched either to skills or work activities
  • Link to Occupation Profiles for more detailed occupation information, as well as links to the Employer Locator for names of employers in their area

mySkills my Future 
If you have had a job and are looking to identify other occupations using your skillset, this assessment may help. 

Clifton Strengths Finder (Small Fee; $19.99 for Top 5) 
Tool to help you understand your strengths and use them to understand and enhance your performance. 

While this is most used to understand aspects of your personality, it has a section on “Strengths and Weaknesses.”

Understanding the various aspects of your personality can help you identify work environments that are well-suited for you. No single personality trait is advantageous over another, but being aware of your personal preferences is an important step in making a satisfactory career choice. We recommend thinking about:

  • How do you work best?
  • When and how do I feel the most energized?
  • How do you see the world and make decisions?
  • How do you take in information?
  • What kind of pace do you feel like you move at?
  • How do you take in information?
  • How do you make decisions?
  • How do you view human nature?
  • What is your view about organization and structure?
  • How do emotions fit into your world? 

These tools can help you understand your personality traits: 

This will help you better understand your own preferences such as career paths, strengths and weaknesses, and workplace habits, and also help you better understand others.  

Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test
This site offers free brief online MBTI assessment. 

SAPA Project
Personality assessment that studies patterns of human behavior and gives the opportunity to explore your traits on multiple dimensions. 

Making decisions about your next steps can be challenging and overwhelming. Career Services can support you by helping you understand your process and how to move forward. The information below is designed to help you start, but we recommend making an appointment to discuss it further.  We recommend using the CASVE Cycle (Adapted from Florida State University) as a helpful tool to knowing you made a good decision; this process is not completed once, but will happen with all career decisions:

Realizing a decision needs to be made (Ex.: What do I want to major in? What kind of internships do I want to apply for?) 

Better understanding yourself and how to make the decision (Ex.: What do I enjoy and am good at that relate to majors? How do my skills and values line up with internships)?  

Expanding and narrowing options (Ex.: I’m going to create a list of all the majors related to my interests and strengths and then narrow them down to my top three; I will list all the options for internships.) 

Prioritizing options (Ex.: These are the top two majors I am interested in learning more about; I want to focus on internships in NYC focused on environmental remediation.) 

Creating a plan and implementing the choice (Ex.: I will take two courses that overlap with both majors; I will start applying for these opportunities.) 

Evaluating the decision made.

Some ideas to ponder in your decision-making process:

  • How have you made decisions in the past? Evaluate what was (or was not) helpful in the processes?
  • Identify a good decision you made; how did you get there?
  • What is a mistake or a regret you made? What did you learn from it?
  • What is the worst that can happen with each choice? 

A few recommendations to learn more include (not an exhaustive list):