Career Information and Exploration Resources

Make the most of your time at Penn State

  • Visit Career Services for Individual Career Counseling to explore your own process of decision- making, engage in self-assessment activities, and identify the action steps necessary to define and achieve your goals
  • Meet with your academic adviser to learn about majors, academic options, course content, and requirements
  • Establish a relationship with faculty to learn about opportunities to gain experience in and outside of the classroom
  • Increase your exposure to career fields of interest through job shadowing, internship, volunteer, or work experiences during academic and summer breaks

Career Planning Steps

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Increasing your self-awareness will help you determine a major or career path that is a good fit for you. Engage in discussion, activities, and career assessments to identify your interests, values, abilities, and personality. Through individual career counseling you can work toward understanding who you are and apply this information to career decisions.

Explore Career Options

Explore career options so you can connect your knowledge, interests, values, abilities, major and personality to careers. The four levels of Career Exploration provide examples of how to collect career information.

The 4 levels of career exploration:

  • Read
  • Talk
  • Observe
  • Experience

Read about Careers of Interest

Talk with Others in Career Fields of Interest

Talk with a variety of people in careers you find interesting.  Most people like to talk about their career path and their position, career field, or industry. Even if you decide that the career is not the best option for you - that is valuable information. View Informational Interviews for guidelines and start talking with:

Observe Professionals At Their Workplace

Observe and "job shadow" professionals in the workplace to get a better sense of the day-to-day responsibilities, challenges, and work environment of within various careers. This experience can reinforce to you the types of skills, interests, and values desired to succeed within career areas.  Seek out opportunities to observe professionals through your network of contacts and Career Services.

Experience Work First-hand through Internships/Related Opportunities

Test-drive specific career fields by taking on short-term work or volunteer activities. Reflect on your experiences to refine and modify your career interest areas. Remember, even short-term experiences lasting less than a semester or summer can be very valuable in shaping your future career plans.

Develop Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Gain insight into the type of knowledge, skills, and abilities, necessary to succeed in a career field as you learn more about career options. This may shape what you want to gain from your academic classes, your involvement in student organizations, and the types of work experiences you seek.  While most career options have certain academic skills required to perform well in a particular job, many skills and qualities are common among employers across career fields.

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) asks employers to rate the Top Qualities and Skills they look for in new college hires.

Top Skills and Qualities Employers Seek in College Grads (source: NACE Job Outlook Survey)

  1. Ability to work in a team
  2. Leadership
  3. Communication skills (written)
  4. Problem-solving skill
  5. Strong work ethic
  6. Analytical/quantitative skill
  7. Communication skills (verbal)
  8. Initiative
  9. Technical skills
  10. Detail-oriented
  11. Flexibility/adaptability
  12. Computer skills
  13. Interpersonal skills
  14. Organizational ability
  15. Strategic planning skill
  16. Friendly/outgoing personality
  17. Creativity
  18. Entrepreneurial skills/risk-taker
  19. Tactfulness

Develop Self-Marketing Tools

Recognize the experiences, abilities and education requirements that are commonly expected by employers and graduate schools. This will guide you as you compose and deliver your self-marketing tools (resume, cover letter, application essay, personal statement, writing sample).  Work with a career counselor to ensure that your application materials are putting you in the best possible position to be considered for the opportunities.

Job Posting/Company Verification Disclaimer: Read the full disclaimer which describes the shared responsibility among Penn State Career Services (including University Park and Commonwealth Campus career offices) and internship/job seekers in researching and identifying potential concerns about the legitimacy of employers and their respective postings.