Make Wise Decisions, Part 2: Research

Research your upcoming decision
 
When you've completed your reflection and self assessment, you're ready to look outside yourself to research, identify and explore your options. You will be looking for activities that incorporate your values, interests and skills.
 
There are many resources at your disposal to help you during the research phase. For instance, you can use any printed or video information, career information systems, the Web, on-site experience (job shadowing), and informational interviews.
 
Let's take a look at these categories.
 

Print and video

Visit your nearest local or public library which have many career-related books, videos or DVDs. Specifically, you can look for the Dictionary of Occupational Titles or the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
 

Career information systems

Databases of private sector employers exist for national and geographic areas. Ask to see what's available at local libraries or employment offices. Some of these systems can match your self assessment information with possible occupations and career fields. These systems, such as DISCOVER or SIGIPLUS, are helpful and can supplement your own self assessment, research and instincts.
 

The Web

A simple web search can produce thousands and thousands of results. Visit career-related websites as well as message boards and discussion forums for first-hand accounts. Here are just a few helpful websites:
 
This site is known as the Riley Guide and contains links to other sites, including population- and occupation-specific resources.
One of the most popular job search and resource sites
The US Department of Labor site that lists job vacancies from 1800 state employment offices.
 

Job shadowing and informational interviews

Job shadowing and informational interviews are two techniques that can help you get a better idea of a person's actual experience on the job. Ask someone who is doing work you're interested in if you could follow him or her around for a day. Stay in the background and observe. Afterward, you can discuss anything you say that day.
 
In addition, find and interview people who work in the occupation or field you're interested in. Connect with professionals through professional associations or through the local Chamber of Commerce. Remember, this is not a job interview. You are seeking information only. Gather as much information and advice as you can during the interview.

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