Exploring Career Fields
step 2 to finding a satisfying career
Shortcut to: Career Descriptions
This is the "reality check" step. You've worked on your "self-discovery" process. You've identified a few career fields that look like good matches for your skills, interests and values. Now you get to test the reality of your assumptions.
It's too easy to make assumptions about career fields or to glamorize certain fields before you have all the facts. You might make big bucks in high tech or consulting, but do you really know how you'd be spending your days? At the Career Center, we often see alumni who have worked for a few years in a field that they did not really enjoy. Sometimes, the only way to know if a career is right for you is to jump in and do it -- but if you can save yourself a few years of misery by doing your research now, why not do it??
There are 5 main ways to scope out possible career fields:
- Books - read about it
- Talk about it - with alumni
- Internships - try it out
- On the Web - surf through it
- Our "What Can I Do With This Major" pages
Read About It - Books
The Web is great, BUT - you will find much more extensive information in the books in the Career Library. If you've already gained a basic knowledge of a career field and want to know more -- about specialties within the field; about personal stories; about professional organizations -- come to the BC Career Center for some great reading.
38 Commonwealth Ave., diagonally across from White Mountain Creamery)
A sampling of "career profile" books
Career Resource Library
38 Commonwealth Ave.
Talk About It - With Alumni And Other Professionals
Reading about a career field can give you an initial impression, but if you really want to know what the day-to-day reality of a job is all about, you should speak to people who are working in that field. BC's Career Network includes alumni, spanning every career field, who have offered to speak with you about their careers.
All you have to do is pick up the phone and call them. Make an appointment to meet them in person, if possible, and ask them some tough questions about how they spend their days, what they like and dislike about their jobs, how they got their start, and what advice they have for you. You'd be amazed at the things you'll learn.
Attending meetings of professional associations is another way to gather information about a potential career field. Many associations will let you attend a meeting for free, or as a guest of a member.
Try It Out - Internships
What better way to learn about a potential career field than getting your hands dirty and getting some actual experience? If you're doing an internship, be curious, be nosey. Ask people questions about the work that they do, what they like and dislike, how they got to where they are today. And keep on meeting people and making friends - many organizations now hire a significant percentage of their interns into full-time positions after graduation.
These days, it is increasingly common to find alumni who are pursuing internships as a way to gain experience and get their foot in the door of an otherwise impenetrable career field, such as advertising or book publishing.
- Our Internship page - for access to over 25,000 internship listings.
- Professional Work Fellowships - graduating students and recent alumni may also want to look at our collection. Unlike traditional jobs, these professional work "fellowships" have a set time frame (from 3 months to two years, depending on the position), and most are designed to provide graduating students and recent alumni with a comprehensive introduction to a career field as well as a challenging work experience.
Surf Through It - On the Web
Increasingly, the Internet provides some great resources for learning about career fields.
- Career Descriptions - this page makes links to descriptions of over 60 career fields.
- Alumni stories
Film, public relations, psych research, mountaineering, marketing, entrepreneuring, law and others.