Welcome back! We have made it through the first 3 steps of the Career and Blog Counseling Series in honor of Counseling Awareness month.
Get to Work! – Part IV: Doing Career and Blog Research
Career research is the process of finding out exactly how you can get to where you want to be via reliable and credible resources. It includes researching job prospects; understanding educational and experiential requirement;s and learning if a career is well suited for you.
1. Take a career assessment such as the Self Directed Search. I am not someone who believes that tools of assessment and measurement are the end all be all, but I do think they can be very helpful. Assessments help to link your values, goals and preferences with careers. You can find some other helpful assessment tools on O*Net
2. Review general career information sites such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net. These sites provide you with information about the knowledge and skills required for a particular career; the type of work environment; the educational requirements; and of course the data on salary and job growth.
3. Review articles, websites and books related to a potential field of interest. This is the beauty of living during the age of the internet and google. Google it! Just make sure you are using reliable sources and reading about the positives and negatives.
4. Meet with professionals in the field to learn about their perspectives and career strategies. This is usually referred to as informational interviewing. Many professionals are open to it but remember to be respectful of time and availability. Doing an informational interview can help you get a feel for the type of person found in that particular field, hopefully the person you meet with will also be honest about the positives and negatives and it will help you build a connection. Not all connections lead somewhere; but many can if you nurture them. Don’t assume that an informational interview is going to earn you an internship or job and don’t take advantage of people who are willing to keep the lines of communication open.
5. Gain first-hand experience through internships, jobs and volunteering. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! I can’t stress it enough. No matter how much you read about something, nothing will prepare you more than first had experience. I worked with a student who waited until senior year to work at a dental office. He spent 3 years in college taking science courses and preparing for entrance exams. After a couple of months at the dental office, right before he was going to apply to dental school he sat in my office and said “I hate spending all day with my hands in peoples mouths.” Oops! If only he had gained experience earlier! Although, on the positive side at least he discovered this before spending thousands of dollars on dental school applications and stressing himself out in the process.
6. Join and participate in associations related to a field of interest. Joining professional associations can help you make and build connections, find internships/jobs and really dive into learning more about your future career.
Bloggers: Research might be a little different for you but it is still important. If you are blogging as a source of income it is important to research the best ways to do so. Figure out how you can get in touch with companies who might be willing to sponsor you. There are sites that will help you find paid blogging opportunities; but there are also sites that will rip you off. Don’t assume that everyone is as honest as you. Read about companies and sites that help you monetize your blog; ask around in the blogging community; and never give out personal information without knowing where it is going! Joining blogger forums where you can chat with experienced bloggers and learn from them is a great way to get started. I listed some blogging communities here.
Learn about site stats; understanding SEO; your Klout score; your “pinfluence;” and all of that other blogger mumbo jumbo. Those are the things that are important in getting you the recognition from sponsors.
Another thing that is important- research where you will “host” your blog. There are a lot of free sites but they may not have the functionality or traffic that you want if you are trying to monetize your blog. Don’t just assume that a “blog is a blog” ’cause that just ain’t true! For example, there is a difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. A BIG difference. I can’t get into all of the details, mostly because I truly don’t understand them, but I know that wordpress.com has a lot of limitations. For instance, I can’t put a Rafflecopter widget in my posts and I can’t use the “pin it” button from Pinterest. Both important for traffic and success. So do your research (clearly I didn’t…)!
Here are some helpful Career Research resources:
Quintessential Careers: www.quintcareers.com
Making the Difference (Federal Careers): http://www.makingthedifference.org