Career Exploration:
Narrow the Choices

Once you have hauled in your catch of possible occupations, you are ready to narrow these down and find the two or three that look like the most suitable candidates for your dream job.

How do you do this? By researching. This step is going to be time-consuming. But if you do your homework and spend a little time thoroughly researching and narrowing down your options, you just might end up with a lifetime of fulfillment and satisfaction rather than a lifetime of drudgery and regret. The choice is yours.

To help you minimize the time you have to spend in this stage of your career exploration, we’ve listed several different research methods you can use, in rough order of the time commitment they will require. You will want to use a variety of these methods, but start with those that take less effort first as you narrow down your options, and then use those that require more time as you get down to the few that are your most suitable options.

As you gather your information, you may want to use our career possibilities worksheet to keep track of what you have learned. Print off as many copies as you need to organize information on all your career options.

The Internet

As you found out when you were brainstorming for career options, there are a lot of Internet resources with occupational information. There are many other places on the Internet you can go to research individual occupations. These include Web sites of associations, home pages of companies that employ people in the specific occupation, and newsgroups related to particular occupations.

Libraries, employment and career centers

As well as electronic resources, there are also many print resources you can use to research different occupations. Again, many of the resources you used to brainstorm about occupational options can be used to do further research. And one advantage libraries and employment and career centers have over the Internet is that they have knowledgeable staff that can help you find the information you need.

Informational interviewing

This is where you get a chance to reverse the roles. You become the interviewer, and the person with the job becomes the interviewee. The goal of this process is to gather information about a particular job or career directly from the “horse’s mouth” to help you find out if it is the kind of job you would be interested in pursuing further. Informational Interviewing tells you what it is, why you should do one, where you can find someone to interview, what you should ask, and more


Volunteering provides you with a number of advantages. It gives you a first-hand look at an occupation you are considering as a career. It is also a great way to network and, if you find this is the job you want, you already have some built-in contacts with which to begin your job search. It also enhances your résumé; employers will be very impressed if you have volunteer experience in the area in which you are looking for work. Through volunteering, you may also find that the job is not all you thought it was; and you can then look for job opportunities in other areas.

Working part-time

Like volunteering, working part-time gives you a chance to get a first-hand look at the job you are interested in and allows you to make contacts you can use as references for future jobs. Unlike volunteering, it allows you to earn some money while doing so.

Working abroad

Working abroad gives you the opportunity to combine a couple of objectives you might have for the future: traveling and career preparation. There is a wide variety of things you can do in foreign lands to gain job-related or transferable skills, while broadening your horizons and improving your self-management skills.

  • Working Abroad - We devoted a whole issue of our nextSteps magazine to this topic. It’s a great starting place to learn more about this option.
  • So, You Want to Work Abroad? - From the University of Waterloo. Asks you why you want to work abroad, tells you how to go about preparing for it, and provides a list of additional resources you can use for further research.

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Michigan Reach Out! Home Last updated 9 July 03