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Career Goal Setting

Career Goals help you take steps to reach your desired career. A broad career goal (e.g. wanting to work with people) is more helpful if it can be refined to be more specific (e.g. entertaining, teaching, providing medical care or consulting). You may want to revisit the Explore section if you need more information to refine your career goal.

Tips for Goal Setting

  • In formulating a career goal, be as specific as possible in stating what you want to accomplish.
  • Goals can be long-term or short-term. For example, finding a career that is satisfying for you will likely be a long-term, more general goal. Your short-term goal may be more specific, such as: to investigate a variety of career fields and explore which ones fit with your interests, values, and skills. See the example below for further illustration.
  • Set a goal that is measurable. If your goals are measurable, then you will know when you have reached them.
  • Once you have a clear, measurable goal, develop specific steps, called objectives, that will enable you to reach the goal.
  • Set a timeline for each objective. What will you need to do to begin? What will come next?
  • Anticipate and identify difficulties you may encounter. Plan ways to address and overcome them.
  • Set a deadline for accomplishing your goal. This will motivate you to implement strategies and objectives to reach the goal.

Specific Steps To Take To Further Clarify Your Goals:

  • Learn more about the field by reading about it on O*Net.
  • Review the Web-shop on Networking to learn how to talk with people in the field of veterinary medicine.
  • Contact students in the nearest veterinary school to learn about the educational process. Contact a local veterinarian to learn about the career first hand.
  • Volunteer to work at local veterinary clinic or shadow a veterinarian to get a sense of the day-to-day experience of being a veterinarian.

Refining Career Goals

  • Shadow people in career fields of interest identified by networking or conducting informational interviews. Illinois State students can inquire about networking opportunities offered through Alumni Services.
  • Talk with a career counselor about your career alternatives. Examine your personal characteristics (interests, values, abilities) to examine how these match with careers of interest. Illinois State students can meet with a staff member at the Student Counseling Services (320 SSB) for career and personality assessment and career counseling.
  • Network with professors, family, friends, and current acquaintances to learn about careers. You may have connections through classes, a cultural or art group, a sports team, a church or synagogue, youth or scouting programs, community causes or political groups. Even if you don’t know someone in a career you are interested in, it is very likely that you know someone else who can help you find that connection.

Getting First-Hand Experience

Gaining experience is another way to clarify your career goals. Experiences can provide opportunities to develop skills, see the work environment, and test out the match between you and a particular career area.

Ideas for Gaining Experience:

  • Internships and Cooperative Work/Study programs. Speak with a professional at the Career Center (185 SSB) about internships and work experiences.
  • Do volunteer work. Ask employers about opportunities to volunteer.
  • Talk with people already in the career or field you're interested in. Learn from alumni through networking opportunities available from  Alumni Services.
  • Complete a project. Talk to your professors to find opportunities for independent study projects or honors courses.
  • Develop transferable skills that relate to your career goal. Get involved on campus or in the community by joining an organization (e.g. fundraising, event planning, etc.). Review the Web-shop on Transferable skills to learn more.


2018-01-30T10:31:51.114-06:00 2018