Starting Your Career Exploration

It’s never too early to start organizing your thoughts about possible career pathways. You’ve taken a wide variety of classes in high school or college and some of these probably interest you more than others. The content of these classes often can be starting points for career exploration. Students who start to think about their career pathways in an organized way are likely to earn higher grades in college, be more motivated to graduate on time, and be more successful in their chosen career.

We invite you to follow these steps to begin your career exploration.

1. Learn about yourself

Many students ask, “How do I start planning for what comes after graduation from MDC?” We can’t tell you what’s best for you, but we can help you develop some strategies to help you figure this for yourself.

  • Everything is right inside you – you just have to tap into that inner wisdom
  • Set aside some quiet time to ask yourself questions about “what’s next?”
  • Be honest in your responses; no one has to know your answers!
  • Write down your responses. It helps make them more concrete. You can come back to them on a regular basis and revise them as needed when things change.

Close your eyes for a moment; take a deep breath and ask yourself:

  • What do I love to do? What am I passionate about?
  • What are my interpersonal, communication, problem-solving, technological, change management, self-management skills?
  • What do I value in a career? Financial reward? Flexibility? Leadership roles? Opportunity for advancement? Stability? Status? Working on my own or in an organization?
  • What would I like to be doing ten years from now?
  • How can I combine my interests, my loves, my skills, and my values with a career?
  • What do I want to do rather than what do I want to be?
  • What can I do right now or in the near future?
  • How can I bring my passion to everything that I do?
  • Finally, what do I need to do during my time at MDC to achieve the goals I’ve outlined here?

2. Learn about the Holland Career Theory and how it helps you match your goals, interests and values to career choices

John Holland was an American psychologist who developed a theory that is used to help people match their personalities with careers. The basic principles are:

  • Most people fit into one of six personality types. These are known as the Holland Codes or RIASEC.
    • Realistic
    • Investigative
    • Artistic
    • Social
    • Enterprising
    • Conventional
  • People of the same personality type working together create a work environment that fits their type. "Work" includes doing things to achieve a purpose, like paid and unpaid jobs, volunteering, sports, or hobbies. For example, when Artistic people are together on a job, they create a work environment that rewards creative thinking and behavior.
  • People tend to seek environments where they can use their skills and abilities and express their values and attitudes. For example, Investigative types search for Investigative environments; Artistic types look for Artistic environments, and so forth.
  • People who choose to work in an environment similar to their personality type are more likely to be successful and satisfied. For example, Artistic people are more likely to be successful and satisfied if they choose a job that has an Artistic environment, like choosing to be a dance teacher in a dancing school where creative abilities and expression are highly valued.
  • How you act and feel at work depends to a large extent on your workplace environment. If you are working with people who have a personality type like yours, you will be able to do many of the things they can do, and you will feel most comfortable with them.
  • People whose personality type matches their career work tend to achieve greater success and satisfaction.

Holland’s Hexagon Model shows relationships between personality types and environments. The types closest to each other more alike than the types located farther away on the hexagon.

Visual representation of Holland’s Hexagon Model, covered in step 2 of this page

Activities You Can Do Now

  • Complete at least one career assessment to clarify your interests and values. There are two tools we recommend:

    Focus2 is a simple career exploration tool that will help get you started with your career exploration process, especially if you are unsure of your pathway. It helps you narrow your search to areas most important to you.

    Dr. Kit is a resource that many students like because it contains video testimonials from college students, faculty, and professionals in a wide variety of career fields. Click on the Success in School and Success at Work tabs to access videos that describe what studying or working in each field is like with “the inside scoop”.

3. Use the results to explore careers that match the suggested careers

Try to narrow your focus to a handful of possible careers.

4. Discuss your findings and bring your questions

Discuss your findings and bring your questions to your advisor, your mentor or a teacher/professor to can help you interpret your career findings and may suggest additional activities for you to complete.

5. Investigate connections between programs of study, jobs, and career

A good place to start is the Florida College System’s information on meta-majors. Meta-majors are broad areas of study, each of which has many career opportunities associated with them. Pay special attention to the “Data” link on that page. It can take you to the workforce resources available to students locally. In addition to this resource, visit the Career Exploration Resources’ links on the right column of this page.

6. Learn about the different credential programs at MDC and how they match your career interests

These include certificates that may “stack” towards an associate degree, advanced technical certificates and baccalaureate degrees. Visit MDC Stackable Credentials and MDC’s Certificate Programs for more information.

7. Pick a program of study and register for courses using the Course Sequence Guide (MAP) that is associated with your program

8. Use the MDC Career Exploration Hub Resources

Use the Resources we have collected for you in order to make the best use of your career exploration time. Pay particular attention to the MDC Academic Program choices offered.