7 Resources to Research Careers

When researching careers, the information can be overwhelming. If you google a career field, you’ll quickly find yourself buried under a mountain of links. Should you ask your parents? See if friends and family have ideas? Take an assessment? The research options – and the results – can be overwhelming.

So, where can you get solid advice on your career research – without the deluge of information? Every career consultant has their favorite tools. I adapt my suggestions to individual clients, but everyone can benefit from these seven resources to research careers.

1. Websites to Research Careers

Google can yield a lot of great information, but if you want to go straight to the source, these websites are the perfect starting points for career research: 

  • O*Net: This is the website to “start the career you’ve dreamed about, or find one you never imagined,” where you will find detailed descriptions of all sorts of occupations. You can browse by skills and interests, industries, or career clusters. Check out its My Next Move resource to dive a little deeper.
  • Career One Stop: This U.S. Department of Labor toolkit helps you research careers and plan your future. It asks some fairly simple questions about what you like to do, what you don’t like to do, and voila! You’ll get career matches, employment outlook, training, and educational resources according to your results.

2. Informational Interviews

Casual chats can quickly become informational interviews when you ask other people about what they do in their jobs. You want to get as much insight as possible, so get into the habit of asking people about their careers. 

Start with people you know. You know your dad is a business owner, but what skills does that include? You know your aunt is a graphic designer, but what does that involve? Could you describe their jobs to someone else?

Ask questions like: 

  • What does your typical day look like? 
  • What skills are needed?
  • What do you like about your job? 
  • What do you wish you could change about your job?
  • How did you get this job?

Asking people about “a day in the life” of their job is a great way to get an idea of the daily tasks for certain jobs. Not only will you learn what people do every day, but you’ll also get an idea of how their career paths unfolded the way they did. For example, how did your friend with a degree in chemical engineering become the VP of HR at an engineering firm?

3. Networking

Networking demonstrates that you are curious about work, interested in other people, and an interesting person yourself! It’s all about connecting with people — not necessarily for the sake of getting a job, but also for learning more about specific careers or industries you might be interested in. 

To start networking, begin with the people who are already in your life and expand from there. That could include: 

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Neighbors
  • Friends
  • Former employers
  • Family

Remember to keep and update a list of the people you know and suggested referrals, what they do, and why you want to get to know them. The right conversations can change your life, so don’t overlook the power of personal networking to research and explore careers instead of a Google search!

4. Internships

Internships are a valuable way to learn about certain careers or industries in a hands-on way. They’re available for all kinds of jobs: interns work in labs, museums, hospitals, law offices, and parks — to name a few.

High school counselors or college career centers usually have resources for student internships. You can also find internships in your area or industry on Indeed, LinkedIn, and Handshake through your college career center or other search engines.  

While paid internships are nice, don’t overlook an unpaid internship as an important way to clarify or untangle your vision for the future.

5. Shadowing

In addition to asking someone about their job, it’s also helpful to spend time with them while they are doing their job. With shadowing, you follow a professional around for a day to learn what they do. This is a great tool to help you learn more about the kinds of roles you find appealing. 

To prepare for a successful shadowing experience, be sure to: 

  • Know something about the person you are shadowing and be familiar with their company  
  • Arrive with a list of questions – what do you want to learn from them?
  • Dress appropriately. Even if it seems like a casual office, err on the side of dressing more professionally 
  • Take notes, but use paper or your laptop so it doesn’t look like you’re constantly texting on your phone 
  • Thank them! An email or thank you text is fine, and small gifts are appreciated

If you don’t know anyone to shadow, check out job shadowing videos online. “Day in the Life” videos are a great place to research careers and learn about jobs. Here are some samples:

6. Career Fairs

This is often called “Career Night” in high school, but many colleges also organize career fairs multiple times throughout the year. Employers attend these events to explain what they do and to recruit employees. Sometimes they will interview you on the spot if you fit what they’re looking for!

Career fairs are great if you want to learn more about the requirements for a specific job. You can also get face-to-face time with people who work in your desired industry. Take this opportunity to ask them about their certifications, experience, and thoughts on the industry’s future. 

If your school doesn’t provide career fairs, look at Facebook Events or Eventbrite to see if there are career fairs in your area. 

7. College Career Centers

College career centers provide a slew of free resources. What can you do with a particular major? What major best matches your interests? Need to practice interviewing?

College career centers can assist you with: 

  • Interest and skills assessments
  • Resume writing workshops
  • LinkedIn profile creation
  • Mock interviews
  • Career guidance

If you want help with networking, finding internships, or drafting your resume,  chances are good that your college career center can help.

Clarify Your Path Forward

You might feel as if you have to research careers on your own, but that isn’t the case. There are many resources at your disposal to find the perfect career and, ultimately – job. The key is to use a variety of tools and techniques. 

I can help you gain clarity and direction if you’re overwhelmed by too much information. As a career counselor, I’ll help you learn how to research, use productive resources, and chart a career path that works for you.

Let’s see if we’re a fit!


Schedule a discovery call