You’ve generated a store of self-knowledge about your identities, interests, values, personality traits, and skills through our Explore activities or your reflection. Now, how do you connect this information to career options—specific industries, job functions, and organizations you might be interested in?
We’ve compiled some strategies to get you started.
At any point in this process, we encourage you to meet with a career counselor to talk through what you’ve learned, brainstorm possibilities, or to help us get to know you—whether or not you have anything specific prepared to discuss.
Industry and Job Function Search Filters
If any of your interests clearly correspond with particular industries, use that industry as a search filter on a job board like LionSHARE. You’ll learn about opportunities and organizations within that industry.
If your skills or strengths clearly correspond to certain job functions, use that job function as a search filter on LionSHARE, another job board, or a company website.
Do a keyword search for organizations that work on your topics, problems, products, or activities of interest. Try these strategies:
- On LinkedIn, use the main search bar (you’ll see results based on company name and description). Once on a company page, you can look for “Similar Pages” to expand your list.
- Search on a job board to identify jobs with that keyword in job postings; it’ll often appear in the company description or description of the role.
- Use a search engine to find lists of organizations published by magazines, blogs, nonprofits, or trade groups.
Brainstorm Using Online Resources
- Identify industries or job functions that might connect with your academic interests using resources like What Can I Do With This Major.
- Identify job functions that might align with your skills by browsing the list of job functions on LionSHARE or reviewing the Occupational Categories on the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
- Deepen your knowledge by reviewing detailed descriptions, histories, and current trends within industries or job functions using resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Firsthand, ImaginePhD, O*NET, or other websites.
Read Job Descriptions
Read job postings and notice your reaction to the description of the company and the role, reflecting on whether it aligns with your values, interests, and strengths. The qualifications section can be a good place to see if your skills align with the role.
Reach Out to Your Existing Network
Reflect on the people with whom you can bounce around ideas about your interests and possible career options. As a Columbia student, you have a network that might include professors, former supervisors, family, and classmates.
Learn about career paths and gain industry insights by attending events, including our industry showcases, alumni panels, and employer information sessions, as well as off-campus events like conferences and meetups.
Broaden Your Network
Reach out to professionals in your fields, roles, and organizations of interest to learn more. Check out our resources on connecting with alumni, networking, and informational interviewing to learn how to do this effectively.
Reflecting on and Analyzing Your Learning
Reflection and analysis throughout your exploration process allows you to connect what you know about yourself with possible career options.
While you research options, use these questions to evaluate whether you can see yourself working in this industry, role, or organization:
- Does the organizational or industry culture align with your values?
- Does the opportunity align with your top priorities at this time?
- Do you think you would be good at this job? Would you get to use your top strengths?
- Do you meet the qualifications (education, skills, experience) for this role? What skills or experiences, if any, might you want to further build to prepare for such a role?
- What additional questions do you have about this industry, role, or organization?
We’ve compiled additional questions, resources, and strategies for assessing organizational culture for inclusivity on our Students of Color, Students with Disabilities, LGBTQ Students, Student Veterans, and Women’s pages. You can also find broader reflection and research questions in our resources on researching graduate programs and using social science skills for your job search.
As you prepare for a job or internship search, use this reflection to define or narrow your list of target opportunities.
When applying, return to your reflection to craft application materials and interview stories that articulate your interest and preparedness for specific opportunities.
Tracking Your Learning
As you explore options and reflect, we recommend compiling this information in an easy-to-access spreadsheet, document, or journal. You might even like to create calendar reminders to keep key goals, recruiting timelines, or deadlines on your radar.
Organizing information as you research can save you a lot of time and energy during your actual job or internship search.