Two types of career exploration

To effectively pursue career exploration, an individual should explore both their internal and external environments. The Build Your Future curriculum offers youth this opportunity and provides resources for exploring and developing a career path.

A youth’s decision of which career path to choose is often guided by information-seeking activities. This information seeking should include both internal and external exploration. Author J. Zikic indicates there are two types of career exploration: self-exploration and environmental exploration.

Self-exploration is reflection of one’s self and focuses on defining and exploring one’s own interests, values, previous experiences, dreams and career goals. It is cognitive, internal and involves personal reflection. It often includes completing inventories and assessments. Zickic comments, “As a result of self-exploration, individuals obtain a clearer perspective on their desires and abilities and possibly the types of work environments they want to avoid”

Environmental exploration involves a more active process of collecting new information on jobs, organizations, occupations or industries and allows for more informed career decision-making. This type of exploration is behavioral in nature and may include informational interviewing, computer research, job shadowing, internships or attending network events or career fairs.

While these two types of exploration are independent, they are also not exclusive to cognitive or behavioral action. Self-exploration can also include soliciting and discussing feedback with others, or working with mentors or coaches to gain self-insight. Environmental exploration can contain cognitive reflection of personal experiences in interviews, employment settings, job shadowing experiences or internships.

In 2013, the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Career Exploration and Work Force Preparation team embarked on the development of a curriculum focusing on career exploration. This curriculum gives youth the opportunity to work through both internal and external exploration in their pursuit of finding a career path. Now a National 4-H Curriculum, Build Your Future: Choices…Connections…Careers consists of nine activities that target high school students from 14 to 19 years of age.

The purpose of this curriculum is to help youth develop skills and knowledge, as well as become actively engaged in career exploration. In addition, it provides activities to foster the development of interview skills, resume development, college funding, portfolio development and much more. In 2015, the Michigan 4-H Career Exploration and Work Force Preparation Team will be offering an introductory webinar, six introductory (1.5-hour) curriculum trainings, and five in-depth (4-6 hour) trainings about Build Your Future in locations across the state. Stay tuned to the MSU Extension calendar to learn more about these opportunities, training dates and locations.


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