Exploring Your Career Path

Finding your career path is an ongoing activity, and it’s not always logical or predictable.

When you’re in the thick of it you may find it difficult to see any logic to your career. But looking back over the trajectory of your education and career high points (and low ones) gives a much-needed insight into what has made your career journey satisfying or disappointing.

Even if you aren’t a current graduate student or if you’ve already completed your educational goals, you probably have a lot of questions about your best strategy for moving forward into a highly-fulfilling career.

At the heart of a career path is the fact that you’ll be changing jobs from time to time. The average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during their career and sometimes those changes will involve different types of positions in different industries or occupations. Some career paths have many ups and downs and, in fact, some people even move down the career ladder.

According to the specialists who manage the career development blog site The Balance Careers, the definition of a Career Path includes:

The jobs you’ll need to hit your ultimate career goal. A career path doesn’t need to be a straight line up the career ladder, nor does it need to span a specific time frame.Career paths traditionally imply vertical growth or advancement to higher level positions, but they can also entail lateral movement within or across industries. And each path can be slightly different for each person, depending on how long you need to take to get to your goals, or if you change your goals along the way.

Consider this resource from The Muse that helps individuals sort out the Easiest Way to Find Your Ideal Career Path.


Now, consider the best strategy for examining and evaluating your current career status, and think of it in relation to your current academic career or career ambitions.

An ideal model of the career planning process includes four primary steps:

(1) Self-Assessment
(2) Career Exploration
(3) Finding Your Match
(4) Creating an Action Plan

If you’re currently enrolled in graduate study, consider using the MIND Career Exploration Roadmap from the University of California at San Francisco. This interactive board game is designed to break down the career pathways and career exploration process for graduate students into manageable and actionable steps.

If you find this information beneficial, be sure to visit the Gradmentor Career Assessment section.

Author: Scott Kerlin

Dr. Scott Kerlin received his Ph.D in Organizational Behavior and Counseling from the University of Oregon in 1992. He also holds Master's degrees in Human Resource Management/Organizational Psychology and Public Personnel Administration. He has extensive academic research leadership and professional development work with graduate students in U.S. and Canadian universities. Details are available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottkerlin/

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