Career exploration is a lifelong process, and there are so many different ways to explore. Below are some strategies you can use to get started. There is no wrong way to explore!
Talk It Out
Do you want to talk to someone about career ideas or are not sure how to go about exploring? The Career Exploration Center is here to help. You can schedule an appointment with an advisor to talk through your questions and ideas.
Are you someone who likes thinking or journaling? Enjoy seeing how “who you are” relates to what you might want to do after college? Use this list of questions to help you reflect on things you care about.
Career assessments can be a good tool for generating career suggestions based on your interests, strengths, personality, and values. Of course, no assessment is going to tell you what you should do after college, but they can offer new ideas or confirm that you are on the right track!
Attend an Event
Every semester, tons of career-related events happen on campus. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about careers, connect with alumni and employers, and interact with other exploring students.
Explore a variety of career events hosted by UW career offices and employers. To access, click “Events” at the top of the Handshake home page.
Read & Watch
Do you like to learn new things through reading? There are so many great websites and books that you can peruse to get more information about potential careers.
Search for careers by keywords (ex: science, artistic, etc.) and browse by industry (ex: management, health & counseling, etc.)
Learn about occupational groups, such as media and communication, computer & information technology, and many others. You can also browse occupations by required level of education, growth rate, median salary, etc.
Access career videos and profiles that detail tasks, work settings, and more for hundreds of careers. Initiate a side-by-side comparison of two careers you are considering.
CEC Career Library
The CEC office houses over 100 books covering a wide variety of careers. Browse or check out some books to read later during the CEC open hours. You can also break out your library card and check out career-related books offered through UW or community libraries!
Reach Out to Experts
Do you have career ideas and want to talk them through with individuals who have knowledge or expertise in those particular fields? Here are some resources for making connections:
In addition to the Career Exploration Center, every school and college at UW-Madison has its own career center as well. Other campus career resources include the Center for Pre-Health Advising, Center for Pre-Law Advising, and International Internship Program.
Want to connect with UW-Madison alum who are working in fields that interest you? Check out Badger Bridge!
Try Things Out
Prefer to learn through experience? Trying things out is an excellent way to discover more about careers and yourself. There are tons of ways to get involved. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Check out volunteer opportunities through the Morgridge Center, whose goal is to bridge campus and community through service and learning.
Search for jobs and internships through this campus system that makes it easy for UW-Madison students to sign up for career events, connect to jobs and internships, and use online resources to explore careers.
Search through part-time employment opportunities through the university, as well as businesses and families in the Madison community.
Discover unique opportunities at UW-Madison through the Wisconsin Involvement Network.
Find opportunities to work with some of the world’s leading researchers while experiencing all aspects of the research process, from assisting others in the lab, to designing, directing, and presenting your own research.
Research What Others Have Done
Wondering what careers other students with a particular major have chosen? Want to know more about the kinds of jobs alumni have in fields that interest you? Seeing what UW-Madison graduates have gone on to do after college can be a great way to expand your career knowledge and broaden your ideas about what’s possible! Get started by checking out:
Frequently Asked Questions
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How do I know which career office to schedule an appointment with?
Each school or college has its own career services office for students who are seeking help with resumes, cover letters, interviewing tips, and information about specific careers. For these reasons, you should schedule an appointment with the career services office for your specific academic school or college.
You can learn more about other career services here.
The Career Exploration Center, on the other hand, serves undecided and exploring students from any school or college who are in the earlier stages of major and career exploration. Typically, the CEC helps students with these kinds of questions:
- How do I choose a major?
- How does my major relate to careers?
- What kinds of extracurricular experiences can I get in college?
- How do I go about choosing a career?
Are there career assessments I can take to find out which careers would be a good fit for me?
The Career Exploration Center offers career assessments. Some cost a minimal fee, and others are free.
If you’d like to take an assessment right away, we recommend trying Focus2, CareerLocker, or YouScience (all free of charge). You’ll find instructions for taking those at the above link. We recommend making a career advising appointment with a CEC advisor after working through Focus2, or YouScience, so you can talk through what your results might mean for you.