Overview of the Career Development Process


College Career Action Plan

Throughout your time at Saint Mary’s College, there are various steps to engage in your career development each year. To see the College Career Action Plan, click on one or more years below:

The career development process can be very complicated and daunting, especially with all of the transitions you will encounter during your college career.  However, the process can be simplified into five basic areas:

It is important to understand that the process is NOT linear and you may find yourself going back and forth through these stages while in college and throughout your entire life!


Assessing Yourself: 

Assessing your interests, values, skills, personality and motivation helps you to answer the critical question of “who am I?”  This assessment can be done through both a formal process such as career assessment inventories as well as an informal process through individual career counseling and experiential learning.  During this stage, you may consider asking yourself and exploring:

  • What’s important to me?
  • What do I like to do in my free time?
  • What activities make me lose track of time?
  • What are the most interesting jobs and careers I can think of?
  • If I could do anything in this world and money was no object, what would I do?
  • What skills and activities come naturally to me?

Exploring Options: 

After you have assessed your interests, values and skills, there are many different ways in which you can explore career options that relate well to you.  Some ways in which you can learn more about different types of careers include:

  • Online and print publications
  • Alumnae Resource Network
  • Professional associations
  • Talking with professionals, academic advisors, professors and the CCO staff
  • Participating in activities such as informational interviewing and job shadowing
  • Taking a variety of courses related to your interests

Making a Decision: 

Once you have explored your interests and have more knowledge about your own interests and values as they relate to majors, it is time to make a decision about your major and career aspirations.  At this stage it will be important to understand how you will evaluate your exploration experiences and how you will make your decision, including narrowing down career and major options.  Some critical questions to ask yourself may include:

  • Have I fully considered, to the best of my ability, all of my interests, values and skills?
  • Have I gathered enough information to make an informed and comfortable decision?
  • How much and what kind of information do I need to make my decision?
  • What questions do I still have that will help me make my decision?

Taking Action:

This is the stage where you will take action to ensure that you are heading on the right path towards your career.  At this stage, you may be ready to choose or clarify your major, if you have not already done so.  It is also at this stage that you will begin to develop a career action plan about what steps you will need to take to reach your goals.  Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do I know what majors would be most relevant to my career goals?
  • Do I know the skills that are necessary in the fields I have chosen?
  • How do I gain the necessary skills to be marketable to employers and graduate schools upon graduation?

Evaluating Your Decision: 

As necessary, it will be important to review and evaluate your career decisions on a regular basis to ensure that they are still compatible with your priorities, interests and values.  At times, you may find yourself beginning and repeating various stages of the career development process over and over again.  Your priorities, interests and values will shift overtime which will affect how you view the world-of-work and your career choices.  According to most research, approximately 85% of college students change their major at least once during their college career!

Important Factors to Remember:

  • Career development is a proactive process—NOT an event
  • Choosing a major in college does not pre-determine your entire professional career—there are lots of career paths that you will have the opportunity to explore
  • Choosing a major in college does not mean that you have to give up your other areas of interest—find extracurricular activities to supplement your other interests
  • Your priorities, interests and skills will shift over time
  • Career development and decision making takes time
  • When developing your career action plan, keep your end goals in mind—determine what path you may want to pursue whether it is a career, graduate/professional school or volunteer/service after graduation
  • ALL of your experiences, whether they are job-related or not, impact your career choices
  • Keep an open mind and be open to opportunities that present themselves
  • No one career could possibly meet ALL of your needs—choose the best fit career option