". . . we are devoted to serve our alumni, in whatever capacity that may be. . ."
As a VMI alumnus, there is no expiration date on assistance offered for you. These services continue to be available because we believe in you and what you have to offer. This includes lifetime career resources and guidance:
Marketing Your Skills
Employers seek VMI graduates based on their solid academic foundation, hands-on preparation, character, and integrity. The Alumni Placement Program works to match your talents, interests, and goals with prospective employers. Our office is here to advise and inform alumni about current trends in the job market, preparing a resume, developing strategies for seeking employment, interviewing skills, changing jobs, or considering graduate/professional school.
Career planning is the first step in the process of reaching your career goals. The word "career" has a range of meanings, one of which is "a clearly defined progression or pathway of work in a "particular field." Gone are the days when one can depend on a single career, job security, a fixed salary, advancement, and stable job descriptions. These aspects of the old world of work have been replaced with terms like portfolio careers, free agent economy, lateral career movements and career competencies. This shift in the nature of careers requires a shift in thinking about how to plan and develop your career.
The 21st century career has been defined as an individual's life-long progression in learning and employment characterized by the following:
- learning includes formal and informal learning and training
- work consists of employment, periods of non-work, self-employment, voluntary work, and community work
- progression can take place laterally as well as vertically as long as it retains the sense of development or moving forward
- learning is the key to progression in work as learning and work need to be interwoven on a life-long basis
Trying to plan your career in this new environment can be overwhelming. It requires an individual to possess skills in accessing information about careers, courses, training, the trends in the labor market, and the ability to apply this information to their own circumstances. Making sound career decisions is one of the most important skills of modern life, given the vast array of career choices available, the massive increase in job changing and the cost of education and training.
Meeting the challenges of planning your career and making the most of your degree is available from the Career Center as part of your experience. We invite you to take advantage of many services and resources that can help you develop and shape your future career plans.
As you work with the Career Center, you'll discover that we use the following model to talk about the career planning process:
Planning a career is similar to planning in other areas of your life. You must identify the inputs and resources in the beginning. For career planners, this means assessing one's interests, values, economic needs, skills, work preferences, personality, and other relevant career-related requirements and preferences. This is a crucial first step in choosing a career path that is satisfying and meaningful.
Consider identifying your own natural career interests by taking the Myers-Briggs Assessment online. Use the online assessment to identify careers that fit your personality profile.
Consider reading books that offer career advice and direction.
The assessment process is the cornerstone of good career planning. Allocating insufficient time to this part of the process compromises your ability to form a career plan that is based on what you want and need from your career life. It requires dedication and commitment to understand how self-knowledge can be integrated into career exploration and decision-making. As with any search for answers, the process begins with questions:
- What motivates and inspires you to perform your best work?
- What are your interests and hobbies?
- What do you like doing?
- How do you spend your time?
- What are your natural talents and abilities?
- In your past work experiences, which tasks have you both enjoyed and performed well?
- What skills do you already have from previous experiences that may qualify you for new jobs?
- What are your unique talents and characteristics?
What do you need in your career to stay motivated and energized?
These types of questions can be grouped under four general areas of career assessment that are important to address in the process:
Values: the aspects of a career that are important to you, such as achievement, security, status, or autonomy.
Interests: what you enjoy doing, such as playing golf, taking long walks, or going to the movies.
Personality: a person's individual traits, such as motivations, needs, or attitudes.
Skills: the activities you are good at, such as public speaking, computer programming, teaching, or managing people.
As adult learners, many of you have already engaged in some form of this process in the past. However, the assessment process is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that needs to be revisited each time you make a career decision.
Explore An assessment process yields rich information about what you bring to the workplace in terms of preferences, attitude, passion, motivation, and skills, to name a few. This information can then serve as a lens through which you evaluate and consider potential career and job choices. In short, you are seeking a career choice that maximizes the opportunity to express yourself and meet your needs.
Understanding the array of choices available to you will help you make career decisions that are more likely to be satisfying for the long-term.
Gathering Career InformationOne way to learn about the many different types of career and job opportunities is to visit this site and browse our many resources selected to help you with these types of decisions.
Another means of exploring career options is to conduct an informational interview with someone who is doing the type of work you are interested in pursuing. This meeting provides you with an opportunity to find out if the work is really what you thought it would be like and allows you to ask questions about the job or field that are of personal interest to you, helping you to make informed career decisions.
Work and Volunteer ExperienceGaining work experience and exposure are probably the best way to learn about yourself and different careers. A part-time job, a temporary or contract position, an internship, or a volunteer experience can provide you with this opportunity. Hands-on experience in the world of work helps you to learn more about careers and increases your marketability to employers before and after graduation.
Career decision-making is a critical step in the career planning process as you are deciding on your intended path. This part of the process is often the most challenging as it requires ruling out many options and committing to a specific path. You may be deciding on a job search goal, a specialization, or a new career direction. Whatever your situation, thoughtful decision-making based on deep self-knowledge gives you the best chance of making a career decision that is right for you.
This step involves deciding what you want based on the assessment work and career exploration you've completed. To make a good decision, you need to step back a bit and examine your own decision-making style--how you typically make decisions - and the advantages and disadvantages of your individual process.
The Alumni Placement office is ready to help you think through your options and can help facilitate a decision-making process based on your career situation.
This is the final part of the career planning cycle as you act on your career decisions. You are now ready to take concrete action towards meeting your goals and moving your career forward.
If you need assistance call our toll-free number (800-444-1839) at the Alumni Association or email Eric Hunter '08.