Helping Students Begin Career Development

Student career development requires students to consider three broad areas: self-assessment of skills and interest; career research; and personalized education enhancement. DSU's Career Services provides many services in all three areas, but advisors still need to be prepared to discuss these issues with students, understand the importance of the process, and identify students who could benefit from further assistance/referrals.


Self-assessment is a critical component of the career development process. Students must be aware of who they are in terms of personal values, interests, strengths and weaknesses, goals, motivations, personality characteristics and skills. Advisors can help students consider these areas by asking appropriate questions: What are you interested in learning about? What do enjoy doing? What is your favorite subject? Where do you want to live?

DSU's Career Services also has resources available to help students complete the self-assessment phase. Students may complete the SIGI+ (System of Interactive Guidance and Information Plus), a computerized career planning system that can help students answer questions about their abilities and suggest occupations they may be interested in exploring. To help an advisee arrange an appointment, contact the Career Services office at 256-5122.

Career Research

Students must be aware of the knowledge and skills required for a given career field, as well as the supply and demand trends predicted for the future. DSU's Career Services has many resources available to help students conduct research about specific fields and occupations. Many of these resources are available at After students have completed a self-assessment and investigated possible career paths, you can help them consider their options by comparing their self-assessment information with data about specific occupations and discussing the results.

Personalized Education Enhancement

The final step in helping students with career development is determining the educational requirements of a chosen career and helping students decide how best to fulfill those requirements. Obviously, advisors should counsel students regarding curriculum requirements and university policies that may affect their course load. They should also recommend areas of specialization or minors that would enhance the student's chances of employment. Advisors should also discuss internship and leadership opportunities, and if appropriate, guide students through the process of progressing to post-graduate work.

The Total Package

One of the most important tasks in the education enhancement phase is reminding students of the difference between a major and a career. Students need to know that employers are looking not just for a degree, but for the 'total package.' According to the 2002 Michigan State Recruiting Trends Survey, the 'total package' that employers seek is a graduate with a solid academic background and demonstrated abilities in communication, computer use, leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal relations. Advisees should be encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to enhance their education both in and outside the classroom by:

  • Keeping their grades up.
  • Joining campus organizations and being involved in extracurricular activities.
  • Serving in an internship or participating in career-appropriate employment and/or volunteer work.
  • Acquiring and practicing a variety of computer skills.
  • Developing oral and written communication skills and practicing them with public speaking and writing beyond course requirements.

At the appropriate time, DSU's Career Services has many resources available to help students prepare a resume, practice interview skills, and search for internships or employment.

While presented as three separate phases, advisors should reassure students that career development is not always a linear process. It does not always fit neatly into a predetermined timetable as career aspirations may change as students grow personally and academically.

By focusing on a the differences between choosing a major and developing a career, you can help advisees understand the value of a liberal arts education, help set the foundation for a life of learning, and help prepare them for the challenges their futures will hold.

Last Updated: 7/31/12