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 Homepage | Gathering the facts | Information Interviewing | Labor Market Trends | Experiential Learning

Overview of Career Research

There are many approaches to investigating careers.  This tutorial focuses on ways to use the Internet to facilitate career decision making.


  1. Pick a career that you will use in this occupational research tutorial.  It is referred to as your career for the day.
  2. Read this page which will give you an overview of what you will find in this website. 
  3. This site actually contains four tutorials which can be found by going to each of the links on the left.  In each area there are tasks for you to complete.  The tasks require you to go to other sites on the Internet.  In order to return to the tutorial, close the website that you opened.  The tutorial should still be on your desk top. 
  4. In some cases you will be inputting your answers to questions in a form.  Instructions for copying and saving the answers to your questions on located on the bottom of each tutorial page.

 Gathering the Facts

The more occupational research you do, the better your chances of finding occupations that fit your interests, values, skills personality type and experiences.  These choices will result in greater career and life satisfaction.  Occupational research may:

  • lead to a more accurate view of a specific occupation over a romantic or idealized picture.
  • enable you to increase your individual circle of contacts, which can lead to greater support and job leads.
  • help in preparation for job interviews. 
  • lead to other career options that you had not considered.

Use the Internet, use printed sources, use people, and use experiences.

 Labor Market Trends

Looking at market trends helps you get a picture of  what skills may be needed in the future.  Always remember that these are merely educated guesses.

 Information Interviewing

Informational interviewing is a networking technique in which you take an active approach to meeting people in a particular industry.  It involves talking to people who are currently doing what you would like to be doing and asking them questions about their job.

 Experiential Learning

Nothing beats throwing yourself into the work environment that you are considering.  This can be done through internships, volunteering, summer or part time jobs, study abroad or service learning opportunities.  Don't miss any of these chances to test a career.


Internships allow you to do an actual job that interests you, like a regular employee. Interns usually have more help and guidance while learning to do a job.

Internships provide more than exposure to jobs. Internship experience may help you get a job. Employers like to hire people with experience, and sometimes hire their most successful interns.

Internships are available to college students, whose education and training may be appropriate for many jobs. Internships usually last several weeks to a few months. They may offer pay, school credit or both.  Look at Montgomery College's Internship website for additional information.

Job Shadowing

You spend a day (or part of a day) at work with someone in a career that interests you. You follow that person throughout the workday and observe what she or he does.

At appropriate times during the day, ask questions about the work. Make a list of possible questions in advance, and make notes of other questions that come up during the day.

Job shadowing may not give you a complete picture of a job or career, but it will give you a sneak preview.


Volunteering is a good way to experience many careers. In some cases, you may be able to do the specific job that interests you. For jobs that require more education or training, you might be able to volunteer in a related job that still exposes you to your career interests.

Like internships, volunteering can last from several weeks to months. You may volunteer a few hours a month or several hours each week.

When asking about volunteer opportunities, talk with the supervisor about your interests. He or she needs to know you want to work with or near employees doing the job you are interested in, if this is possible.

Many communities have lists of volunteer opportunities in their area - check at your library and in your local newspaper.

Part-time and Full- time Jobs

Working teaches you a lot about your interests and helps you develop skills for many careers while earning some money for school and living expenses.

Many part-time jobs do not require a lot of training and skill to get started. You may be able to work part time while in school - but be careful to keep your grades up! During school breaks you may be able to work on a part-time or full-time basis.

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