Bakersfield College

BC Students work on computers

Career Center

Many people spend more time deciding which kind of car to buy than which kind of career to pursue.

What are some of the consequences of making a bad career decision?

  • being in a career that doesn't fit with your personality, values, interests, and skills
  • completing a degree that you aren’t really interested in
  • finding low satisfaction or meaning in your career

Choosing a career and college major are major life decisions that are best made using a multi-step process of self-evaluation and awareness, occupational and career research, decision making, planning a course of action, and ongoing evaluation:

Step 1: Self Awareness

Before doing anything else, it is necessary to clarify the kinds of interests, values, personality characteristics and skills that you have, especially as they relate to the world of work. This kind of self-evaluation is best done through the use of career assessments.

The following are ones that we will use:

I. Interests

What are your interests as they pertain to the world of work? Do you like working with people, with tools and technology, with ideas? Are you interested in expressive and creative activities? Do you like working outdoors or in nature?

II. Values

What conditions are important to you in a job? Do you value job security, independence, working collaboratively with others, prestige? How important is salary?

III. Personality

Human personality can be divided into certain types. Some types complement or align with certain work environments, while others do not.

IV. Skills

What are some skills that you already have? What are some skills that you would like to acquire? How do these skills relate to particular occupations?

Step 2: Career Awareness

Now that you have some idea about occupations that could be a good potential fit with your values, skills, interests, and personality, you will use this information to look carefully at these occupations.

Your goal is learn as much about them as possible to help you make an informed career decision. California Career Zone, and O*NET all have extensive occupational information, including descriptions of tasks and duties, required educational background, salary, future demand and more.

You are also able to sort occupations based on how much education is required (i.e., look at what requires an associate’s, bachelor’s, or beyond).  



California Career Zone:

Once you have completed the three assessments, go to the homepage and click Grow, then click Portfolio Summary Report. You will see a summary of each of the evaluations you took. Read this information carefully. Below the score summaries, you will see occupational matches. Each match is a link to a page with descriptive information about that occupation.


From the O*NET Interest Profiler, you will automatically, upon completing the Profiler, be able to see occupation descriptions both in a shorter or summary format (MyNextMove) and in highly detailed form.

Vocational Biographies:

Vocational Biographies is a website that, similar to O*NET and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, contains detailed descriptions of hundreds of occupations. However, it provides information through a biographical format. You learn about an occupation by reading about it from the perspective of an individual worker in that occupation, who describes their educational pathway in that occupation, the nature of the work, what they consider the most and least satisfying aspects of the work, and more. The site also contains wage, outlook and other information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Please contact the Counseling Department for log in information.


You also need to look at Labor Market Information (LMI) for careers you have identified. How strong is the demand for this occupation?

If demand is low or not projected to grow much, is it worth the risk? Career Coach and the California State Government Employment Development Department are excellent resources for this type of research, especially for LMI by specific area.

Step 3: Tentative Career Goal

The work you have done so far will have helped you identify one or more potential careers that align with your personality, interests, and values. In this stage, you undertake a process of further exploration and verification to make sure that these are in fact suitable career choices for you.

So far, a lot of what you have done has involved reading and research, which is extremely valuable, but now you want to take it to the next level by acquiring some first-hand knowledge. This involves actually talking to people in your field(s) of interest, observing work environments in person, and possibly engaging in actual work through an internship.

There is no substitute for this. This process will hopefully bring you closer to making a definite choice.

  • Informational Interviews: Informational Interviews are a type of interview in which you are not actually applying for a position, but instead interviewing someone who does the kind of work you want to to do, or manages people doing that work. It will allow you to gather more information about an occupation or field, build interviewing skills, and make contacts. Please read the the Quintessential Careers tutorial on the process of informational interviewing.
  • Job Shadowing: The opportunity to be able to observe first-hand a professional in the act of doing his or her job is an extremely valuable one. You also get to experience the work environment. This can be very helpful for those interested in occupations where you may work in more than one setting (e.g., lawyers) .
  • Internships: internships are an excellent way to learn whether a career is a good fit or not. As with informational interviews and job shadowing, you are learning about a career from the inside, but the difference is that you are developing more of an understanding of the career because you are actually seeing what it is like from an employee’s perspective. You are now not just asking shadowing or interviewing a professional in your field of interest, but working alongside that person. A good place to find out information about internships is through BC’s Student Employment Center where there are listings of local internships. You can also speak with professors from your major, who may know of possible internships.

Step 4: Making a Decision

After completing the first three stages of the process, you may have decided on a single career goal.

You may, however, still be considering more than one possibility. If this is the case, you will ultimately need to choose.

The essence of the decision making process involves identifying the pros and cons of each path that you are considering, comparing pros and cons, and selecting the one that provides the most advantages and least disadvantages. You are considering not just your level of interest, but salary/benefits, time frame to complete qualifications to enter this field, and demand/outlook for this profession.

How will selecting one occupation affect you and your family vs. selecting another?

The basic decision making process involves the following steps:

  1. Gather information
  2. Identify positives
  3. Identify negatives
  4. Weigh the evidence
  5. Choose

Review the following tutorials on decision making:

Step 5: Career Planning

After completing the previous steps, you should now be ready to make a concrete plan on how to achieve your career goal.

At the core of this will be your Comprehensive Student Educational Plan, listing all the required courses for your degree at BC, plus, if you are transferring, any additional courses you will need for your bachelor’s program.

If your career goal requires a graduate degree of some kind (eg Master’s or PhD), you will examine the admissions requirements for that to help you make a decision about what courses to take while still an undergraduate. You will also look at any internships or practical experience you need to acquire.

This step is accomplished in consultation with a counselor or advisor, and/or by taking one of the following educational planning courses:

  • Student Development B1 - Educational Planning
  • Student Development B2 - Career Decision Making/Planning
  • Student Development B6 - Tools for College Survival

To view job listings for BC students and alumni or for employers who would like to advertise jobs for BC students or alumni, please visit BC's Student Employment page.

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