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
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:
- 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.
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?
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 1.2: SMART Goals: The Details
In the last lesson, we read about goal-setting in schools and how it's basically trendier than anything seen recently on TMZ. Goal-setting initiatives are getting stellar academic results for students, but the thing is, goal-setting isn't just about school. It works for everything! And yes, you are allowed to be a regular human in addition to being a workaday student. Here's the full scoop on what SMART goal setting is all about. You might want to take notes on our note-taking worksheet.
1. Make the goal specific.
Make the goal as simple and well-defined as possible. Vagueness stands in the way of achievement in this instance. If your general goal is "get better grades this year," that's fine, but it's just a starting point. Think through which classes you are taking, review last year's grades, and set a realistic target grade for every class, down to the percentage. Then use those class syllabi to calculate what scores you'll need on which assignments to make it happen.
Also ask yourself, and answer, the six W Questions: who, what, where, when, which, and why? Who is involved in achieving this goal? What do you want to accomplish here? Where will this happen? When will it be done? Which requirements or obstacles will be a part of this process? Why are you even setting this goal? Is it for money, glory, revenge? If it's for revenge you should probably rethink it, honestly.
2. Make the goal measurable.
The six W Questions are also helpful for making the goal measureable, so some of the work is already done once you have made the goal as specific as you can. Ask questions like: how many pages is this essay? What are the questions in the essay prompt? When will you know the essay is complete? Being able to visualize how far you've come already will help motivate you to the end.
3. Make the goal attainable.
There are only twenty-four hours in the day, and we all need some of them to sleep. That is, we need them for sleep until we can outsource that to our bionic other-selves. But that's a year or two away. Check that you're setting realistic goals so as not to come out on the other end sleep-deprived and resembling a zombie. We cannot stress enough that we are opposed to zombies and in favor of bionics research that will make us all unsleeping cyborgs.
4. Make the goal relevant.
If the ultimate goal is to get into Dream University, what are the short-term goals that you can accomplish during this school year? What can you do now to put you in the best position when the application has been submitted to the admissions office? If you don't play an instrument, then maybe joining the orchestra is not the most relevant way to build up your extra-curricular activities resume. If you have always been excellent at Trivial Pursuit, consider joining the Academic Bowl team. Set goals that are relevant to your life, your interests, and your strengths.
5. Make goals time-frame limited.
Setting a deadline for completion sets a fire under your tuckus, as it were. Time limits reinforce the seriousness of the task at hand and motivate you to take action. Without timelines, it's easier to say "tomorrow is fine." The problem there is that, as Annie tells us, "tomorrow is only a day away." And then there's another one. And another. Don't risk letting your goal be pushed to the back burner. Even if there is no official deadline, set one for yourself. If you need extra reinforcement and accountability, brag about it on social media. The threat of embarrassment is always a good motivator.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.2: A SMART Goal is a Wish Your Heart Makes
Now it's time to send those general goals from lesson 1 to school to get SMART. In the fields below, use what you now know about SMART goals to turn those general ideas into real-live goals, and be sure to answer in at least two complete sentences for each. We just love complete sentences around here.
Using today's reading, transform the wish list you made in the last lesson into SMART goals that answer all of these questions:
- Specific: What, specifically, do I want to accomplish and why? Where, when, and how will it happen?
- Measurable: How will I measure how well I'm doing? How will I know when I'm done? Will I make a schedule?
- Attainable: Is this realistic? Can I really do all of this in the time frame I'm giving myself? What problems could arise?
- Relevant: Is this a goal I actually care about? How will achieving it impact my life positively?
- Time Frame: What is the final deadline?