Career Exploration Tips

Chris Pody, former Career and Employment Relations Coordinator at Blackhawk Technical College, gives advice on exploring career options.



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Interview with Chris Pody
Career and Employment Relations Coordinator
Blackhawk Technical College (9:33)


Announcer: This is Making Futures; helping individuals discover their passion and fulfill their potential.


Interviewer: Today I'm talking with Chris Pody, Career and Employment Relations Coordinator at Blackhawk Technical College and we're going to be speaking about exploring career options.

Chris, where should people begin in their career search?

Chris: Well, I believe that a self-assessment is always the best way to start a career search, and that means exploring who you are in terms of your interests, your skills, personality style and your work values.

Interviewer: So those are questions they could ask themselves?

Chris: Well I do have some questions that would probably help lead them. It'd be 'Who am I?' Think about who you are… what you have liked doing. What are you interested in? And then what aspects of work or school, if you're a student, really are important to you that you find that are engaging you as a personality and a skill level.

Interviewer: So what are some other ways to explore different careers?

Chris: Well, there are some obvious ones. You could get involved with volunteering. You could be working in a job. Job shadowing. Attending career workshops; and you'll find those at your local colleges, especially your technical colleges, and then of course reading. And, I'm going to give you a feel about that occupation and see if it's using the skills you'd be using in that occupation that would be consistent with your skills and abilities.

Interviewer: What about people who can help you in the career search process, who do you recommend?

Chris: Well, if you're in school, your teachers, your high school counselors, your guidance counselor. Your parents can be a good source of help for you. And I think that people you trust in your life, that are going to give you information that you know will be honest. They have observed you, and of course there are the counselors at colleges and sometimes your instructional staff at a college would be very helpful. And of course there’s career facilitators also in many of the technical colleges.

Interviewer: How about at the local technical college, where should people start?

Chris: I think a good place to start, are something maybe a little more basic. You could come to preview day. Most of our colleges have preview days where you get a look at some of the programs, perhaps get to sit in a class, and then again most, hold regular career workshops and that gives you that idea of finding that fit, as far as the college is concerned. Career counseling and advising, now that can be a little different with every college. Some you have to have some affiliation with that college, meaning that you've tested or you've been admitted already, but generally speaking you can call the college and find out if they have career counseling and advising that is open to the public, or that you have to be somehow affiliated with the college. The colleges are another great source for providing resource information. You can generally call the college and, or look at their website and see the state. We call them the graduate report. So you can look at the wages and the number of people that have been employed in any said occupation.

So there are many ways that the technical college, that's, you know, a good way to just contact the college and they will lead you through the process of who you could be talking to.

Interviewer: Great, thank you. How about tools that are available for finding a good career match, what do you suggest for that?

Chris: Well, the technical college site has a great career interest questionnaire, it's located on the Wisconsin Technical College System website and that's,

And then you can look under a heading called Explore Careers. This inventory questions you on activities you enjoy. You know, your personal qualities and school subjects that you like. The questionnaire then ranks these into career clusters. You may find that this way, this limits the amount of occupations that you would be exploring if you hadn't gone through some current interest inventory. Also, the nice thing about this particular site; it will link you back to the colleges, so you can look at the programs that are associated with that. Again, Career Info Net has many of the O-Net assessments. These are all free and if you go on the again, they have a skills profiler and that's looking at the skills you'd like to use in the workplace. And an ability profiler. And now, in this profiler, you'd be telling the assessment what skills that you like to use. And again an interest profiler, another one and then a work importance locator. That identifies features about jobs that are important so you can identify if you find that value in those same aspects of the job. Another important tool that I often recommend to people is actually going and looking at open job positions. When you've identified certain areas that you're interested in, look at a job description. A lot of information can be gleamed from that job description as how this fits with a culture. You can go and look at the employer; their website. But you can also look and see 'Oh! This one has high math skills' or 'This needs this type of programming' and so there can be a lot gleamed from just looking at a job posting.

Interviewer: Good! That's good advice. Thank you. Chris, what about job changers? People who perhaps have pursued one field but found that it really wasn't for them or that they're having difficulty finding a job in that field.

Chris: This does happen to all of us at some point, generally, in our careers. The career life is quite long through our life, so career changers; sometimes it can be because it's becoming, you're becoming dissatisfied with that, or just simply because you would prefer a change. But, we generally do kind of the same process, but we also identify skills that someone has used and has really enjoyed in the past. Perhaps their workplace situation has changed a little bit. They still want to use certain skill sets so we do some, what I would say, are parallel type positions; see if that's something that is of interest to them. That's a good way for reemployment, is to compare skills and looking at comparable types of careers. The other would be, that if someone just wants to make a complete change, I would suggest going through the career assessment process; sitting down with somebody and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your personality. I do believe that personality assessments are very important to get back in touch with yourself. Sometimes we identify greatly with our career and if we want to make that choice, maybe that personality would help you to see yourself - you probably know everything about it - but help identify the strengths and weaknesses and then some career choices that may be something to research and consider. Of course, you'd probably want to add the interest survey in there and see where you match in the middle, but it'll be a similar process, but maybe more in depth on how we can do some skills matching.

Interviewer: Thank you so much Chris! I'm sure that our listeners will find this really valuable information. I just want to mention again the Career Interest Questionnaire can be found at as a good place to start. So, I've been speaking with Chris Pody, Career and Employment Relations Coordinator at Blackhawk Technical College. Thanks Chris.

Chris: Thank you Susan.

Announcer: Making Futures is a presentation of Wisconsin's 16 Technical Colleges. Thanks for listening.