Career exploration

There are many things you can do with your life and career and many good versions of how you can apply your degree in the world.

Maybe you are …

  • curious about which career options will make a decent living
  • wondering how to find work that relates to your studies and reflects your interests
  • trying to figure out what you’re really good at, or which strengths make you stand out
  • feeling stuck or unsure about what to do next
  • worried about not having a clear plan or goal
  • exploring how to make a difference in the world
  • eager to graduate and to finally have that credential you worked so hard for
  • full of excitement, ready to get out there and put your ideas into action

Whatever questions or ideas you have, whatever feelings you are experiencing – it is okay.

Accept where you are. Begin there. Not where you wish you were or where you think you should be.

Who you are matters

Good career planning comes when we pay attention to who we are and what we value, while making use of the opportunities, communities, and tools available to us. It requires knowledge about the world around us and an awareness of where our strengths, skills and interests align with what the world is looking for.

What does career mean to you?

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to clarify your thoughts and expectations about career.

Choose a few of the questions below. Try a 10-minute free write activity or do some doodling – whatever works for you! Once you’ve jotted down some thoughts, share them with a friend. You might be surprised by how unique your view and needs are.

  • What skills do you use day to day?
  • Which tasks require effort, which tasks feel energizing?
  • Where do your values show up?
  • What defines good or worthwhile work to you?
  • What does money have to do with career?
  • What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with career?

Get curious about yourself

Two common indicators of career satisfaction are values and interests. Clarifying your interests and values can help you determine career possibilities that are a good fit for you.

Identify your strengths

Knowing what you’re good at will help you identify positions and environments where you are likely to succeed and your skills will be valued.

Not sure what you’re good at? Think about what people in your life rely on you for. Still not sure? Ask the important people in your life how they would describe you.

Prefer using a tool that can help you come to the answer? Purchase the StrengthsFinder assessment tool to explore and describe your talents. 

Where do you have room to grow? 

What skills or experiences will enhance your employability in your fields of interest? Know what skills employers are hiring for.

Get Experience

Experience is an essential part of building your career. Experiences are where you develop skills, meet people and discover what matters to you.

Pick an experience that will be a good fit for you:

  1. Research the experience you’re interested in.
  2. Talk to someone who has done it. Get their story.
  3. Organize and prepare.
  4. Try it!
  5. What did you learn from it?

UBC has many experiences to offer, explore what is available on campus, in the community, or internationally.

Meet People and Make Connections

Go places and talk to people

You don’t have to explore careers alone. Alumni and employers are interested and willing to help you learn about their field. Their stories, insight, and advice will help you explore possibilities and make decisions towards your goals.

Find a mentor online, meet employers on campus, network with alumni, or learn more about your degree in arts or science.

The World of Work

The 21st century is dramatically changing the how, when, and where of professional workplaces. 

Here are the top characteristics you need to know about how work and workplaces are evolving.  

3 C’s rule workplace culture. Communication, collaboration, and connectivity are skills of increasing importance in successfully navigating workplaces.

Big data and ‘human’ skills are trending. Analytical skills such as identifying patterns, interpreting data, and making unexpected connections, and human skills such as creativity, initiative, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and leadership and social influence, are in demand skills from today’s employers across all industries. 

Technology is setting the pace. Digital tools – specifically the Internet, artificial intelligence, widespread adoption of big analytics, and cloud technology (WEF, 2018) – are changing what, when, how and why we communicate, placing an emphasis on digital literacy skills of those entering the workforce.

A freelance economy. The gig economy continues to rise, transforming careers into short-term contracts with different employers. Gig workers develop highly specialized skills as they move from gig to gig.

Advice from a CFO and mentor: Kathryn Hayashi

How do you choose between a career in industry or in academia? What skills do employers need from (graduate) students? What is her advice for job seekers? Get advice from Kathryn Hayashi, is the Chief Financial Officer at the Centre for Drug Research and Development. Her career spans a variety of industries from music to biotechnology.

How does my story match what employers are looking for?

Across private and public, small and large organizations from all over the globe, employers are looking to hire employees who will be able to successful, make positive contributions to workplaces, and help advance their organization's mission and vision. What have you done that is an example or evidence of these skills? Think back to your course work, extra-curricular roles, and part time or summer jobs. It all counts. 

Equip yourself with tools to manage ambiguity

Life can feel uncertain at times. We can plan and take action to move ourselves forward in our plans, but we may still encounter the unexpected. Thinking about that can be overwhelming but the possibility of the unexpected means we get to be an active agent in our life. After all, if everything was predicted, how boring would that be?

Consider a time in the past when you had to make a hard decision. How did you do it? What resources did you use? How did you navigate the stress of uncertainty?

Find more resources

Check out the Wellness Centre’s tips for managing stress and anxiety.

Mini-Meditation with this video: 

Book an advising appointment