Step 1 – Who am I?


A career is the total of all the work-related events and relationships throughout your life – a journey of building and using your skills, knowledge and experiences. It isn’t necessarily one specific job or profession.

On average, we spend about 90,000 hours at our jobs in our lifetime. That’s a lot of time! So it makes sense that the decisions we make about our careers can feel like really important and consequential decisions. As well, how we feel about our career has a major impact on our overall wellness (Rath & Hartner, 2014).

However, the world of work has been changing over the last half-century, leaving many people feeling anxious and insecure. Stable and secure work has transformed into flexible and fluid work arrangements (Savickas, 2011). What this means is that workers now have to be able to navigate their own careers, managing constant change.

The questions and exercises in this section (Step 1) will help you begin to boost your career self-management skills to make more informed decisions about program choices and navigating through your own career.

The Bigger Picture

Reflection: What does career success mean to you?

Think about someone you know who you consider has a ‘successful career’.

  1. What is their career?
  2. What are some characteristics of their career that make it successful?
  3. What does that tell you about how you define career success?

Career Decision-Making: How have you made career decisions in the past?

Think about how you’ve made career decisions in the past.

  • Has your approach to your career decisions been effective?
  • What have you learned about how you might want to approach career decisions differently in the future?
  • What would you need to do to make these changes?

Career Meaning and Myths

From the media, society, our friends and loved ones, we receive all sorts of messages that can perpetuate stereotypes about who is expected to perform certain roles. We might think, “Men don’t do that kind of job,” or “People from our culture don’t go into that field.” When thinking about the type of career that you want, remember to keep your options open and not limit yourself by stereotypical representations of that field. You may come across some great opportunities that you would have missed otherwise!

Consider this:

  • What are some career stereotypes you hold?
  • What is an example of an occupation that you wouldn’t consider because of stereotypes you hold?

Career Vision

You might have some ideas about what career direction you want to take and what success means to you, but you might still not be completely clear about your final goal. It might take you a while to achieve some self–clarity.

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  1. What does your ideal life look like?
  2. What do you want people to remember you for?
  3. What would you be doing if your bills were paid and you had unlimited cash reserves?

Self-clarity may slowly come to you as you continue pondering the questions about yourself and your circumstances. This process is never complete, it might and should be an ongoing lifelong process.

Internal & External Factors

A common piece of career advice is ‘follow your passion’. Although good advice, it is vague. How do you find your passion? One place to start is to look at the internal and external factors that contribute to whether you enjoy and do well in your chosen occupations. You will have your own unique factors to consider when navigating through your career. Here are some of the main factors to consider:

  • Internal factors: include things like personality, skills, interests, and values
  • External factors: include things like location, family, culture, and financial situation

By collecting the information about the internal and external factors listed above, you will have the information needed to evaluate different career choices. From a broader perspective, by understanding yourself better through self-assessment, you will be better able to navigate through all of life’s changes.

I. Self-reflection:

Consider each question, write down your thoughts, and identify the values, interests, skills or personality traits the answer shows about you.

  1. Who is your hero or role model (either current or when you were younger)? What values do you share with this person?
  2. Do you prefer working with people, numbers and data, ideas, or real-world things like animals or equipment? Or some combination? What does this say about your interests?
  3. What do you find easy to do that others find hard? How does this reflect your strengths?
  4. How does/would your best friend describe you? What personality traits (and strengths) does this demonstrate?

II. Enjoyable accomplishments:

Think of the enjoyable accomplishments of your life. Those things you enjoyed doing and also did well. Select the top 3 that mattered the most to you and write a short story about each accomplishment. They can be from all parts of your life: work, volunteering, school, your hobbies and your personal life.

Once you have written your stories, look back at them and think about the values, skills, strengths, interests and personality characteristics you demonstrated in each of these experiences. What common themes keep reoccurring?

III. Online Career Assessments:

Online career assessments aren’t perfect and can’t tell you what career you should pursue but they can be helpful in giving you more information to use to understand yourself and some ideas of occupations that might be of interest to you that you hadn’t thought of before.

Here are five free online assessments that you could try:

Centennial’s MyCareer Guide:

Centennial’s Career Explorer:

  • Select ‘Assessment’ from the top navigation bar

Career Cruising:

Username: Centennial

Password: campus3

  • Once you have logged in à Assessments à Matchmaker & My Skills



  • Select ‘Take the KTS-II’ in in the top right corner of the screen

ViaCharacter Strengths:


  • Select ‘Take the free VIA survey’

IV. External factors:

Apart from your interests, values, personality traits and other internal factors personal circumstances (good or bad) play a big role in your career choices and planning.

These factors may include:

  • Location
  • Family
  • Culture
  • Financial Situation

What external factors do you need to consider when making a program or career choice?

Career Self-Management Skills

As mentioned above, it is important to your overall wellness and career decision-making, to be able to navigate through your own career. In order to do this, there are four main career self-management skills which are essential for positive career development.

The questionnaire below is adapted from Hirschi (2012). The career resources model: an integrative framework for career counsellors. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 40(4), 369-383

Rate yourself on these skills using a scale of one to five:

1 = strongly disagree
2 = disagree somewhat
3 = neither agree nor disagree
4 = agree somewhat
5 = strongly agree

Identity Resources: These resources are within yourself and help you to answer the following questions: Who am I and how is my work meaningful to me? Am I aware of my interests, values and strengths?

  1. I have a solid understanding of my goals, values, interests and skills
    1          2          3          4          5
  2. I know what kind of work is most meaningful to me
    1          2          3          4          5
  3. I understand how my past experiences and patterns will influence my future career decision
    1          2          3          4          5

Qualifications (Human Capital) Resources: This category relates to your employability and whether you fit specific occupational requirements such as education, experience and skills. Am I sufficiently prepared for this occupation? Is there anything missing?

  1. My education is providing me with the qualifications needed for my future career
    1          2          3          4          5
  2. I am participating in activities that give me relevant experiences for my future career
    1          2          3          4          5
  3. I am developing my communication, critical thinking, teamwork, problem-solving and other skills that employers look for when hiring
    1          2          3          4          5

Social Resources: This category represents “outside forces” or the social support available to you, which includes your immediate network, professional organizations or mentors. Are there people who can help me learn more about the career I want to pursue? Who can I connect with to find out about opportunities in my field?

  1. I have relationships with other people doing the type of work I would like to be doing
    1          2          3          4          5
  2. I am part of one or two communities/ organizations/associations relevant to my field
    1          2          3          4          5
  3. I can contact people in my future career field for help or advice
    1          2          3          4          5

Psychological Resources: These resources refer to positive psychological states such as motivation, confidence and resilience. Do you believe in your own ability to succeed? Are you able to bounce back from past setbacks and disappointments?

  1. I am an optimistic person

1          2          3          4          5

  1. I have overcome challenges and am confident that I will be able to overcome challenges in the future

1          2          3          4          5

  1. I believe that I have strengths and abilities that will allow me to succeed at my chosen profession

1          2          3          4          5

Once you have completed answering the questions above, ask yourself:

  • Which career self-management skill had the highest scores? This is an area of strength.
  • Which career self-management skill had the lowest scores? This is an area you might want to work on improving.

In Step 1, you have reflected on your career vision and goals as well as your strengths, motivations and interests to allow you to better navigate your own career. Continue on to Step 2 to begin to research and explore fields of interest.


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