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7.3: Career Exploration

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    Learning Objectives

    1. Explore career options that best suit your personality traits.
    2. Complete the Career Coach Assessment and learn how to use the results to find employment opportunities.

    A job: yes, it’s something you would like to have, especially if you want to pay your bills. A job lets you enjoy a minimal level of financial security. A job requires you to show up and do what is required of you; in exchange, you get paid. A career involves holding jobs, but it is more a means of achieving personal fulfillment. In a career, your jobs follow a sequence that leads to increasing mastery, professional development, and personal and financial satisfaction. A career requires planning, knowledge, and skills. If it is to be a fulfilling career, it requires that you bring into play your full set of analytical, critical, and creative thinking skills to make informed decisions that will affect your life in both the short term and the long term. In this unit, you will learn how to explore different career options that best suit your personality and interests.

    What Do You Want to Do When You “Grow Up”?

    The Department of Labor defines 840 occupations in its Standard Occupation Classification system—and new occupations are being created at an ever-faster rate. Just ten years ago, would anyone have imagined the job of a social media marketing specialist? How about the concept of a competitive chef? As new careers develop and old careers morph into almost unrecognizable versions of their original, it’s fine if you aren’t able to pinpoint exactly what occupation or career will be your life passion. However, it is important to define as best you can within what field you will want to develop your career because that will help dictate your major and your course selections.

    The process of career exploration can be a lot of fun, as it allows you to discover a world of possibilities. Even those students who have a pretty clear idea of what they want to do should go through this process because they will discover new options as backups and occasionally a new direction even more attractive than their original choice. 

    You are a unique individual with a distinct combination of likes, dislikes, personality traits, and skills. But you are not so different that you can’t be identified with certain personality types, and those types may help you narrow your career choices. Most career assessments are based on the career theory developed by Dr. John Holland. Dr. Holland believed that people are most likely to choose satisfying work if they do something that fits their personality type. He identified the six types below which include: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.  As you read through these categories, decide which category or categories best describe you.

    1. Realistic. These people describe themselves as honest, loyal, and practical. They are doers more than thinkers. They have strong mechanical, motor, and athletic abilities; like the outdoors; and prefer working with machines, tools, plants, and animals.
    2. Investigative. These people love problem-solving and analytical skills. They are intellectually stimulated and often mathematically or scientifically inclined; like to observe, learn, and evaluate; prefer working alone, and are reserved.
    3. Artistic. These people are the “free spirits.” They are creative, emotional, intuitive, and idealistic; have a flair for communicating ideas; dislike structure and prefer working independently, and like to sing, write, act, paint, and think creatively. They are similar to the investigative type but are interested in the artistic and aesthetic aspects of things more than the scientific ones.
    4. Social. These are “people” people. They are friendly and outgoing; love to help others, make a difference, or both; have strong verbal and personal skills and teaching abilities, and are less likely to engage in intellectual or physical activity.
    5. Enterprising. These people are confident, assertive risk-takers. They are sociable; enjoy speaking and leadership; like to persuade rather than a guide; like to use their influence; have strong interpersonal skills, and are status-conscious.
    6. Conventional. These people are dependable, detail-oriented, disciplined, precise, persistent, and practical; value order; and are good at clerical and numerical tasks. They work well with people and data, so they are good organizers, schedulers, and project managers.

    Taking the Career Coach Self-Assessment

    Getting to know who you are—who you really are—is the first step in identifying a potential career.  For this exercise, we will be using the STCC Career Services Guide: Steps to Career Development Success (  Full instructions are in the Career Services digital guide.  Here is a summary:  

    1.  Visit:
    2.  Select the “sign up” link to create an account and save your results. IMPORTANT: Use your STCC email account so you can access your results in the future.  This will also be helpful for accessing job openings and internships.
    3. Select “Take the Assessment.” Be sure you answer all questions.  Avoid answering "unsure" too many times as this will make your assessment less reliable.
    4.  After you complete the assessment, download the FULL RESULTS (right side of the page under Assessment Options.) You should see your top personality traits, 5 top job categories, and 10 career matches.  On subsequent pages, you will read more details about your work personality traits.  
    5. Study your Career Coach Assessment results.  You should learn your top three types or "Holland Code."  Are the results what you expected?
    6. Your Career Coach results also identify career groups or clusters best suited to you.  Do these sound like you?
    7. On your Career Coach profile page, scroll down and select “View Career Matches” to see your top matches and learn about daily duties, required education, regional wages, outlook, prospective employers, live job listings, and more. Select one position that is of interest to you and locate the required education, daily duties, salary, job outlook, and potential employers.

    TIP: To log back into your account, go to and enter your username and password.

    Reflecting on Your Career Assessment Results

    Step 1. Save a copy of your FULL Results or a screenshot of the first page of your Assessment Results and study them.

    Step 2. Copy and paste the following questions into an empty document, then answer them. Submit your questions and answers in the same Assignment Dropbox you use for your Assessment Results.  

    1. Do you agree with the work personality traits identified by the assessment, or did they surprise you?  
    2. After looking over your top 5 job categories and 10 career matches, select a specific position identified on Career Coach that interests you.
      • What is the position you selected?
      • What is the required education for this position?
      • What are the daily duties?
      • What is the salary?
      • What is the job outlook?
      • Who are potential employers in this region?
    3. What have you learned as a result of this exercise that may be beneficial to you now or in the future?

    Optional:  If you would like to talk to Career Services about your assessment results or if you are having difficulty taking the assessment, we encourage you to contact Career Services.  Instructions for setting up an appointment with Career Services are found under Step Two of the 10 Steps for Career Development Success. (  

    Schedule an Appointment with Career Services (3 Options):

    1. Use the Navigate application at: Once logged in, select “Career Services” as the care unit and follow the prompts to choose your appointment time.
    2. Email Career Services at:
    3. Call Career Services at 901-333-4180

    Appointment Formats:

    Career Services can meet with you by phone, email, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or on campus.


    Career Services. Career Development at Southwest.  Southwest Tennessee Community College. 2021. (

    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor: Standard Occupational Classification User Guide 2010, (accessed July 13, 2010).

    This page titled 7.3: Career Exploration is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Lisa Coleman, Thomas King, & William Turner.