Exploring a career path at any age

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, June 19, 2013

by Alan Scott

“When I Grow Up…”

This is a statement that is usually used when we are in elementary or middle school.

Increasingly, here at the Career Development Center at Paul D. Camp Community College, this is something uttered by many individuals that visit the center. With International Paper’s closing a few years ago, many of us were forced to find a new career pathway.

Unfortunately, some of us were not prepared for such a “ground-shaking” change.

Quite often these days, we are contemplating a career change in our 30s, 40s or even older.

We congratulate those who do! Who wants to stay in a dead-end job or a job that we dread going to for eight or 10 hours a day, where they’re underpaid and unappreciated?

There are many incidences in our area. Ask the shift worker who is tired of working strange hours or the single mother of two who is working for minimum wage. Many of us have been in a job for 10 to 20 years. If given a choice, we would leave and never look back. However, there is the mortgage, car payment, etc.

There is a way to get that dream job— actually not a job— but a career. There is a world of difference between the two. Millions of us have jobs, but very few have careers that we enjoy. How can we obtain this career?

First, we must do some exploring. It is impossible to quickly choose a career that is right for us without thorough research, self-reflection and serious thought. All options and choices have to be explored. This is important whether we are choosing a career for the very first time, or whether it is one of many career changes.

Career exploration is not the same as job searching. Job searching is a short-term pursuit of a position that matches financial and career goals.

Career exploration is a long, progressive process of choosing education, training and careers that fit our interests and skills. Career exploration is one of many steps to take on a successful career pathway.

Paul D. Camp Community College’s Career Development Center can offer guidance in this area. They administer self-assessments through the Virginia Education Wizard, a free tool located at www.vawizard.org .

The “Wizard” is a wonderful tool that helps individuals explore specific careers and get real-time details about the demand and salaries for those careers. It allows people to find out a great deal about themselves, and the career that best suits them.

The Career Center will also help people find the type of training or education needed to pursue a career. More importantly, people will find that the Career Center will provide much needed support and encouragement.

Once people have begun their career exploration and are prepared for a dream career, PDCCC Career Development Center can assist with resumes; resume cover letters, internships, and the job interview process.

Visit http://www.pdc.edu/career-development-center to learn more.

Start planning your future today! A little research and career preparation goes a long way on the path to success.

Alan Scott is an Adult Career Coach for PDCCC’s Career Development Center. His email is ascott@pdc.edua