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Assess Interests

A career is more than finding work that you like; it implies a progressive series of jobs that build on skills and increase in responsibility. Choosing a new career that’s right for you, your life, and your family can be both exciting and a little unsettling! You need to find out what it is you enjoy doing and what will keep you motivated each day. This important decision, like many in life, requires consideration of multiple factors. There may be several “right” answers.  How do you decide? 

Most career specialists recommend 1) taking inventory of your current interests, skills, and values because these change over time; 2) considering your natural personality traits and preferences; and 3) and researching employment trends and educational requirements of specific career paths.

Interest Inventory

Now that you get to choose your career field in the civilian or public service arenas, it’s important to consider where your passion and interests lie. After years of service and sacrifice, you can use your personal interests to guide your career and academic choices. Since getting a college degree takes quite a bit of time and effort, you should find the field engaging and interesting. Adult students who aren’t interested or invested in their fields of study may not fare well in the classroom due to boredom and detachment.
Many campus career services offices offer free personality or career assessments which can match students with different career fields and programs of study. Taking a personality inventory or career skills test can cost money if taken independently, but career services offices usually give these tests to registered students free of charge. Many students also use free online interest inventory assessments to match their interests with possible careers which might lead them to the right program of study.

Your Personality

According to John Holland, any person can be described as having interests associated with each of six personality types in a descending order of preference. As the theory is applied in interest inventories and job classifications, it is usually the two or three most dominant codes or types that are used to find the right career fit.

This quick questionnaire also considers personality type and provides initial information about what careers might be most suitable for you.  It may also list some examples of educational institutions where you can receive a relevant degree or training.

Work Values

Although many of us want a career that provides well for our families, annual salary is not the most important factor to consider. Work values or preferences, such as recognition, autonomy, and ability to help others, also play an important role in your choice of career. Taking an inventory of your work values will help you match your career choice to a path that is consistent with your values. Some of the values are cross referenced with the Holland Personality Codes mentioned above. Use your top rated values and the Holland Codes as tools to guide your career selection. Completing these inventories sooner rather than later in the academic timeline is recommended since switching majors might delay graduation and force students to take unnecessary classes and/or waste valuable time.
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