Career planning stages

Educators have studied the process of determining how to choose an occupation since the early 1900s. A number of theories and assessments have been developed to aid in this process. According to the book Career Choice and Development, "Career development is a lifelong process of getting ready to choose, choosing and typically continuing to make choices from among the many occupations available in our society." (Brooks and Brown, 1996)

This process can be broken into four stages:


  • Identify values, interests, personality traits, abilities, aptitudes and lifestyle preferences.
  • Identify majors and occupations that relate to values, etc.
  • Test major and occupational prospects through courses, volunteer work, student activities and employment.


  • Obtain information about occupations.
  • Interview people in jobs that interest you about the nature of their work.
  • Link self-knowledge with occupational information.
  • Declare a major.


  • Evaluate occupational choices by gaining relevant work experiences through internships and employment.
  • Concentrate on major coursework and choose electives that will enhance employability.
  • Increase knowledge and skills through involvement in activities and organizations.
  • Develop relationships with faculty and professionals.
  • Begin learning job search strategies.


  • Explore the full range of graduate study and employment options.
  • Talk with professionals in your field about job search techniques, opportunities and graduate study options.
  • Sharpen job search skills.

Assisting students and alumni in career exploration recognizes that each person is an individual and has unique aspirations and abilities. The Bluffton University Center for Career and Vocation provides services and resources that support individuals as they strive to determine where to go, as well as challenges them to gain self-knowledge, expand their horizons and utilize personal resources.