Career Exploration is the process of
• learning about yourself and the world of work
• identifying and exploring potentially satisfying occupations
• developing an effective strategy to realize your goals
As you enter the career exploration process, it is important to understand how your strengths and interests can work for you but you also need to understand the differences between them and what marketable concepts may emerge as you pursue your seemingly all-consuming area of specialization.
When you think about strengths and interests it may be helpful to frame them this way:
A strength is something intrinsic to you – a skill you possess or have developed that allows you to complete certain tasks. For example, one of your strengths may your attention to detail. This allows you to see errors in grammar and spelling when reviewing documents, or to detect coding errors in computer programming, etc.
An interest is something extrinsic to you. It is a subject area that you use or develop your strengths to explore. For example, you may have a very strong interest in the game of Dungeons and Dragons. You can spend hours and hours researching, planning, collaborating with others, and otherwise occupying yourself with this interest. Over time you hone your skills as a researcher, planner and collaborator as you pursue this interest.
The interest area may change over time, but the skills you have developed can transfer to other interest areas. The key is to make those interest areas something that, while not as consuming as Dungeons and Dragons, fill a need in the current job market.
Being able to research, plan and collaborate are skills that are highly useful in the corporate world when developing new software, preparing medical equipment for sterilization, working with clients as an accountant, and providing technical support to customers at a call centre.
There are many online tools to help you explore your skills, abilities, strengths and see how they can work for you as you move into the job market. Best of all, there are many online resources and tools you can try out. See a listing of these at http://careerprocanada.ca/career-exploration-assessments/. One that is particularly useful for the fields of science, technology, engineering and Math is O*net. While it is American in context, content is highly useful and well organized.
The Government of Canada has adopted an essential skill framework to help job seekers understand their employable skills and to help employers understand what they actually need and want in a given employment opportunity. You can learn more about the 9 essential skills and do a self assessment at http://www.esdc.gc.ca/en/essential_skills/tools/es_self_assessment_trades.page.
Take some time to check these links out and learn more about yourself, your marketable skills and potential occupations that may match your goals for the future.