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Career Research and Decision Making

Because you finally realized "superhero" was not a viable career option.

When you were five, you wanted to be a ballerina or an astronaut. Now that you're older, you may be figuring out that those may not be the most practical career paths (smashed toes hurt). It's time to make some decisions, do a little soul-searching, and get the real scoop from Shmoop.

This course, aligned to Florida content standards, helps you learn to make decisions, figure out what this "career" thing is all about, and make a personalized career plan.

Throughout the semester, you'll encounter lessons, readings, and activities that will teach you

  • how to make decisions and set SMART goals for yourself
  • what your values, interests, and skills are, and what career path fits you best
  • how to research careers and discover important things like what jobs are out there, salary information, and what different professions really do all day
  • what occupational and educational requirements you'll need for your profession
  • how to plan a budget, pay for college, and what it means to be financially independent in the real world
  • how to plan for your career, including developing a mission statement, development plan, and résumé

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Decisions, Decisions

Some choices are tougher than cold pizza vs. cereal for breakfast. Some of them, even, have long-term effects on our lives and well-being. This unit is all about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and figuring out how to make the types of decisions that will propel you toward those goals, rather than over the cliff because everyone else was doing it.

Unit 2. Who Are You?

Know your strengths and play to them, is what we always say. Competitive paper plane folding may not be a career path, but by the time this unit is over, you will have assessed the possibilities until you can assess no more: personality types, interest inventories, and career predictors are the star players here.

Unit 3. Sources of Career Information

The internet is often a lying liar who tells lies, but on rare occasions, it's got good info on top of all of those cat videos. In this unit, we'll seek-and-find all the best in credible sources of career information, which doesn't include Yelp reviews, unfortunately, and come up with three potential career paths for further research.

Unit 4. Occupational and Educational Requirements

We've got a hefty dose of reality here, and you'll come face to face with such harsh facts of life as "Brain surgeons make more money than Art Historians." You'll dig up all the details of your potential careers like specific education requirements, job prospects, and salary potential, but hopefully not be left in tears of despair and/or cynicism.

Unit 5. Financial Planning for College and Beyond

Unless you've got a bottomless trust fund (in which case, can we be friends?), you need to know how to prevent financial disaster from derailing your college plans, career plans, or credit histories. Bankruptcy isn't a good look on anyone, so this unit is all about the facts of financial life: the FAFSA, credit scores, budgets, and why APR is the scariest acronym of them all.

Unit 6. Career Planning

Failing to plan is planning to fail, we've heard. This unit covers everything you need to know to look professional on various important pieces of paper like résumés and cover letters, and you'll cap off this knowledge-journey with a portfolio bragging about all the progress you've made toward your no-doubt admirable goals. Hello careers, here we come.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 2: How SMART Are Your Goals?

Over the years, we've learned a few tricks to setting goals and actually accomplishing them. Our favorite system is the S.M.A.R.T. system, which tells us that our goals need to be all of these things:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant 
  • Time Frame Limited

So, how do SMART goals sound? A little hokey? Or brilliant life advice? We're hoping for "brilliant life advice," but in case you're leaning toward "hokey," give us a chance.

Let's all find a shooting star, or just imagine one, as it's probably the middle of the day and you're in a dark hole in front of a computer. In any case, we'll all make a wish. In today's activity, we're turning those wishes into SMART goals. But why set goals in the first place? Well, for starters, we can vividly remember school years that didn't go very smoothly, and we'd love to avoid a repeat.

Pictured: Also not happiness

On top of that, though, goals are just awesome. If you ask Grechen Rubin, author of New York Times best seller The Happiness Project, setting goals and resolving to reach them is one of the keys to happiness. Ms. Rubin also points out what William Butler Yeats said on the topic: "Happiness is neither virtue, nor pleasure, nor this thing, nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing."

Preach, Yeats. Happiness is all about growth, and growth happens when we set goals for it. We could all use a little more happiness in high school, what with all those exams and school lunches (Salisbury steak, where you at?), so we'll take it where we can get it, thank you very much.

Besides, the alternative the kind of goal below, and those just don't work at all. See?

  • Scary
  • Tertiary
  • Uninspiring
  • Pie-in-the-sky
  • Indefinite
  • Dreary
  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12
  • Course Type: Elective
  • Category:
    • Business and Career Preparation
    • Life Skills
    • High School

Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?

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