Initial Steps for Students
Now that you have information about your aptitudes and some examples of career directions to consider, you are ready for the next step: learning about careers suggested by your aptitudes and evaluating which ones best fit your interests, values, and practical needs as well. It takes time to find the “ideal” direction. Here are some tips for starting your research and discovery process:
Read About Colleges and Careers
- Any large bookstore is likely to have an education section where you can read the latest college rating guides. Colleges are rated in various ways - by cost, quality of programs, student life, activities, etc.—so it makes sense to research colleges in more than one source to help determine which is right for you. A few of the more well-known guides are Barron's Profiles of American Colleges, Peterson's Guide to Four-Year Colleges, and Lovejoy's College Guide. Magazines often publish similar guides, and may contain more up-to-date information. U.S. News & World Report is one such publication.
- Read through college course listings to get a feel for what courses are included in a given major, and whether or not they seem interesting to you. Most colleges will send you a copy of their course listings, and many college catalogs are also available online.
- Use resources on the Internet to learn about careers as well. These resources provide information about hundreds of occupations; there is a range of reports available about practically any career imaginable. Look for information at these sites concerning typical worker characteristics, required training, job duties, the abilities related to an occupation, potential earnings, and employment projections. The U.S. Department of Labor's primary Internet source is O*NET OnLine, and its Occupational Outlook Handbook is available on the internet as well. Another source of occupational information is America's Career InfoNet.
- Evaluate your present interests and try to determine why a career interests you, not just what the job title is. For example, if you are interested in medicine, is it because you wish to help people, or because you are fascinated by anatomy, chemistry, and physics, or because you know you want a career as a specialized, respected professional? When you can identify which aspects of a field appeal to you, you may also think of other careers that could provide the same satisfaction. A teacher helps people, sciences are used in fields such as research and public health, law is a specialized and respected profession. Your aptitude pattern suggests certain types of careers based on years of research, but a thorough understanding of your scores can help you see how aptitudes can be used in many different professions.
Gain Firsthand Knowledge
Next, find out if the day-to-day work in the fields you are considering matches the picture you have in your mind. Ask your professors, your friends, people your parents know, or people in your community about the possibility of “shadowing” them at their jobs so you can get a firsthand look at what they do. Talk to as many people as you can who might have information about careers that interest you. You might even create a questionnaire and use it to “interview” people about their work and responsibilities. People are often more than willing to talk about their jobs to someone displaying an interest. Knowing your aptitude scores can help you to know what questions to ask to make sure the field would capitalize on your strengths.
Use your aptitudes in school classes and extracurricular activities as much as you can. For instance, if you have music aptitudes, you might join the band, choir, or orchestra or enjoy planning the music for a school event. If you have teaching aptitudes, consider tutoring a fellow student or joining the Future Teachers of America club. These types of activities can help give you a feel for what a career might be like.
Make the Most of Your College Experience
- If you score low in Graphoria (the test that measured your clerical speed and accuracy), try to avoid being overwhelmed by the paperwork of school. This could mean bringing a tape recorder to class to aid in note taking. In college, you could also take less than a full load of courses and/or spread out the required courses by taking a few in summer school. Think about selecting a school with small class sizes where discussions and projects can take the place of timed tests.
- Work on building and refining your knowledge of English vocabulary. This effort can improve your score on the verbal portions of the SAT and graduate school admissions tests, and will probably help you get more out of your college classes. A large vocabulary is related to success in almost all careers, and is especially important for “verbal” occupations such as executive work, teaching, and law.
- Consider colleges at which freshmen have SAT scores similar to yours, so you will be properly challenged. This information is available in most college guides.Once you have an idea of your career goals, think about using your time in college to gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, independent projects, and summer or part-time jobs that relate to your future plans.
- You might try keeping a journal to organize your thoughts and clarify your personal goals. This habit can also help you improve your writing skills.
After you have spent some time thinking and investigating, you may want to arrange a follow-up conference at one of our offices. In this appointment we could review the key scores in your pattern and discuss how your aptitudes could relate to any upcoming decisions about schools or jobs.