Identifying your career interests: Phase two of three in the job search – UW Graduate School Skip to content

Identifying your career interests: Phase two of three in the job search

Note: This article is the second in a series of posts about job searching. You can find the first post, on self-assessing your application materials, here.

The academic year has flown by, and some grad students are graduating and approaching an exciting new phase in the working world: others are continuing their education and looking for summer work in-between. But what if you don’t have a job lined up, and are unsure of how to get started?

Lucky for you, the Guru attended a workshop detailing an approach to the job search, taught by Caitlin Goldbaum, career coach at the Career & Internship Center. The following is an outline of the strategies Caitlin recommends for a successful job search. It is being published in three parts, corresponding to the three phases of the job hunt: (1) self-assess; (2) identify the work you are looking for; (3) assess the three core strategies for job hunting.

This week we focus on phase two: identifying the work you are looking for. Feel free to email the Guru with any questions, or comment below about any self-assessment tools or strategies that have worked for you. Happy hunting, grad students!

Phase two: Identify the kind of work you are looking for to help narrow your selection criteria and tailor your application materials.

Try these steps:

  1. Take stock of your top skills and strengths. These may or may not be related to your area of study.
  2. Identify what you are interested in. Again, this could an area you study or something else.
  3. Describe your ideal work environment — is it in an office or outdoors? People-focused or not people-focused?
  4. What do you want your day-to-day activities to look like?
  5. What is an industry you’re interested in?
  6. >What persuasive essay you are able to consider and write?

Note: Check out blog posts on the Career Services website to help you identify industries you may be interested in and narrow it down.

A few things to keep in mind during this phase (and always):

  • You don’t need to know everything right now.
  • There are a lot of ways to find satisfaction in your career: teammates, day-to-day activities, the mission of a company — think about different ways you might find satisfaction in your career, where your priorities lie, and be open to new information and experiences.
  • Your first job is not the only job you’ll have; most people change jobs six–10 times in their career. But your first job may help you figure out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.

Have a grasp on your interests and career skills? You’re ready for the third and final phase of the job application process: assessing the tools for job hunting. 

Ask the Grad School Guru is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If the guru doesn’t know the answer, the guru will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: The guru is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →