Regardless of whether or not you’re a graduate student, you may well be thinking about your career ambitions and accomplishments. You may also be doing some soul-searching about yourself: Your skills, passions, natural abilities, and aspirations.
What does your graduate journey mean to you? Is it helping you to discover new insights about yourself? Is it opening new doors of possibility for programming your next career steps?
Many people who have devoted years to professional career development reach a stage of asking the critical question, “is that all there is to this profession?” It’s especially prevalent among people in their 40s and 50s who have made considerable sacrifices and investments in building a career pathway.
Self-assessment is a wonderful process for evaluating whether you are on the right track in your career and your personal growth goals. There is no “right” or “wrong” in this process. Below you will find an array of self-assessment resources that should enlighten your wisdom about who you are, what your goals and dreams are, and new ways to evaluate whether you’re following a road that’s taking you to “higher ground.”
For current graduate students, especially those pursuing a Ph.D., frequent career planning and evaluation is an essential practice, especially for learning about career opportunities in their fields inside and outside of academia. There are several highly-rated career management websites for graduate students that you will find on this page.
A recent Chronicle of Higher Education blog entry by Jennifer Furlong & Julie Miller Vick, entitled So Your PhD Program is not going ‘As Planned?’ is highly-recommended reading for Ph.D. students who are having second thoughts about the direction their current academic career is following. It
For some people, a critical bump in the career journey occurs when a crisis of faith arrives: Realizing that they are working in a highly toxic workplace or profession. Consider this recent study of the destructive aspects of working for a bad boss. You have my total support–I am well experienced in this!
There is much promising research in the area of positive psychology and in particular the importance of positive psychology for personal wellness and optimal career development. I want to recommend for you an excellent profile on Using the Science of Well-Being to Enhance Your Career, by Melissa Dalgleish (2018).
As a member of the National Career Development Association (NCDA) I stay current with the leading research on occupational trends, career assessments and career resources. It is my aim to empower you with support and relevant information. The links below should give you an excellent start on learning more about yourself and evaluating your career options.
Here are some of the most valuable resources utilized by career development professionals for promoting self-awareness. Please note that many of these tests are best carried out with interpretive help from a professionally-certified career assessment specialist at a university or college.
- My Next Move
A tool from the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net research site, this resource enables you to identify your personal interests and how they relate to the world of work
- Via Character Strengths Assessment
Based on a foundation of scientific research in Positive Psychology the Via Character Strengths Assessment is one of my personal favorite tools for enhancing your deepest self-awareness. Its emphasis is on “accentuating core strengths and virtues in order to enable individuals and communities to thrive.” Take the test free, then invest in the affordable Via Pro Reports for further analysis
- Holland Code Career Aptitude Tests
Holland Codes are one of the most popular models used for career tests today. Holland argued that the choice of a vocation is an expression of personality. The Holland Code assessment enables further matching of personal and career interests with specific occupations. A free edition of the Holland Quiz is available from Rogue Community College
- Strong Interest Inventory
The Strong Interest Inventory® test is an assessment that helps people match their interests with potential educational, career, and leisure activities, using an individual’s preferences in a variety of areas to aid them in discovering what they’d most enjoy doing with their work and their free time. Further details are available here
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI has long been considered to be one of the most effective tools for assessment of personal preferences and personality traits. A full version of the MBTI is available from the Myers-Briggs Foundation and costs $49.00 to complete. A free version of the MBTI, though limited in its interpretive information, is available here
- Keirsey Temperament Sorter
The Keirsey book Please Understand Me provided a popular utilization of the foundational work with the Myers-Briggs Indicator. A free version of the Keirsey sorter is available here
- Highly Sensitive Person Test
I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) and I have learned much from 20 years of studying HSPs based on the research work of Dr. Elaine Aron. She estimates that approximately 20% of the overall population would classify as HSP. A strongly recommended book for examining HSPs in the world of work is Dr. Barrie Jaeger’s book Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person
Graduate Career Pathways and Planning
Here is an introductory overview of career resources for graduate students. A more complete directory is available through my References page.
- The Career Planning Process: 4 Steps to Choosing a Career
From the award-winning careers website The Balance Careers
- A Road Map for Successful Career Exploration
The tool, called the Career Exploration Road Map, is designed to help you: 1) visualize the “terrain,” or process, of career exploration, 2) track your progress and 3) identify the most strategic next steps. It is meant to be pinned to your wall and revisited every few months
- Career Exploration and Skill Development
An exemplary website for graduate students at the University of California at San Francisco, this resource is filled with resources that any student anywhere will find beneficial, emphasizing Ph.D. student career exploration, skills development, and self-assessment. Includes the resource The MIND Career Exploration Roadmap
- MyIDP Individualized Career Plan for Doctoral Students in Sciences
This site enables current doctoral students to create a profile and then follow various career planning scenarios. Highly recommended regardless of your current discipline of study
- The Versatile PhD, which advertises itself as “the oldest, largest online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for PhDs in humanities, social science and STEM”
- Imagine PhD
Top-rated career exploration and planning tool for doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences
- 6 Career-Building Steps to Take While in Graduate School
Sponsored by BiteSizeBio, this reference by Crystina Pyrgaki emphasizes early development of career-building skills for graduate students in the sciences. Recommended for other disciplines also
- Understanding PhD Career Pathways: A Comprehensive Longitudinal Study
This resource guide from the Council of Graduate Schools is represented as having the goal “to expand the definition of what career success means” for graduate schools, graduate students, and alumni