Career Planning (Text Version)

Your Work Life

Over the course of your life, you're probably going to spend a lot of time at work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average work day is about 8.7 hours long. And that means if you work 5 days a week 50 weeks a year for 35 years, you'll spend a total of 76,125 hours of your life at work. If you weren't already convinced, that number should persuade you that it's pretty important to enjoy your career.

Think About This

If you pursue a career, you'll constantly make decisions about it. Is this the right job for me? Am I feeling fulfilled and challenged? Does this job enable me to have the lifestyle I want? We want to set you up for success by asking you to consider these kinds of questions now, whether you're just graduating from high school or college, or returning to school after working for a while.

Steps to Choosing

Choosing a career is a unique process for everyone and for many people the task is daunting! There are so many different occupations to choose from - how do you even navigate this complex "world-of-work?"

There are many different systems for organizing career paths. Luckily, we've come up with a five-step decision process that will make your path a little easier to find.

Step 1

Get to know yourself and the things you're truly passionate about.

Step 2

Get to know your field.

You'll want to investigate the career paths available to you. One of the most convenient filters is to decide the level of education you want to attain before starting your first or your next job. Do you want to earn an Associate's degree, a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree, or a Doctorate or Professional degree?

Step 3

Prioritize your "dealmakers" and rule out your "dealbreakers."

Educational requirements aren't the only area that you will want to consider. Do you want to work outside or in an office? In the country or a city? In a big or small organization? For public service or a private company? What type of industry is interesting to you? What role do you see yourself playing in the organization?

Step 4

Make a preliminary career decision and create a plan of action.

Now that you have an idea of who you are and where you might find a satisfying career, how do you start taking action toward achieving those goals? Some people talk to family, friends, or instructors in their chosen disciplines. Others have mentors in their lives with whom to process this decision. Luckily for you, California Community Colleges have career counselors and academic advisors who can help you with both career decision-making and the educational planning process. But be advised: you'll get the most from sessions with your counselor if you have done some work on your own. Get started by using the Career Café or the Career Zone Barbara Sher once wrote, "Find a career that you love and you will never work another day in your life."

Step 5

Go out and achieve your career goal!

Now it's time to take concrete steps toward achieving your educational and career goals. This may be as simple as creating a preliminary educational plan for next semester or a comprehensive educational plan that maps out your Associate's degree. You may also want to look for internships, part time work, or volunteer opportunities that help you test and confirm you preliminary career choice. Your community college counselor can help you with this step as well.

Keep It In Check

Your work experiences and life circumstances will undoubtedly change throughout the course of your professional life, so you may need to go back and reassess where you are on this path in the future. But no matter if you feel like you were born knowing what you want to do professionally, or you feel totally unsure about what the future may hold for you, remember that with careful consideration, resolve, and strategic thought, you can find a career that feels rewarding.


Good luck and don't get discouraged! This isn't an easy process, but you'll find your goals so much more tangible once you've set a preliminary career goal. And don't forget- we're here to help you!