College offers students the opportunity to explore their interests, beliefs, and personalities while preparing themselves for the future. And for most, “the future” includes a chosen career path. Some students may make this decision quite readily—in fact, they may have come to your school or taken your classes because of their desired careers—but others will want or need a bit of guidance that will help them make informed decisions and gather the knowledge, skills, and direction that enable them to connect their coursework to their career goals.

Using the following activity, taken from the Instructor’s Manual to accompany Gwenn Wilson’s 100% Job Search Success, Third Edition, students can begin to identify career paths that suit their interests, values, priorities, and personalities. You may opt to have them complete the activity as an assignment, or you can recommend it to students who are seeking guidance related to these important decisions.


Interest Journal

• The goal of this activity is to identify students’ professional interests and establish resources to support their continued development.

Advance Preparation

• Inform students. Ensure that students are familiar with the various aspects of their field. For example, nursing students have the option of entering a variety of specialties, such as pediatrics, critical care, or surgery. Students can best assess their interests relative to the field when they know the options that are available to them. If your students are not familiar with the options in their profession, consider individual or small group research or a class discussion to review areas in their field.

The Activity

Step 1. Create a hard copy or electronic journal. Select a format that is easily accessible to you, suited to your preferences, and one that you will use consistently.

Step 2. Record your observations regarding the development of your professional interests as they become clear to you. Note significant influences and events that affect your interests.

Step 3. Include activities, such as interest inventories and other assessments, that contribute to your insights about your interests. Your student services or career placement personnel can be sources of these types of inventories. Record the contact information for mentors and professional colleagues who may be influential in helping you pursue your interests and goals.

Step 4. Remember that the development of professional interests is a process that will continue during your academic preparation as well as throughout your career. Use this journal as the basis for your future professional growth and development. (22)

Reference: Wilson, Gwenn. 2015. Instructor’s Manual to Accompany 100% Job Search Success, 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


How do you help students make informed decisions about the courses and ? Share your tips below.