Career Development

An active approach to choosing and developing a career is essential as young adults begin to consider where their academic preparation and co-curricular experiences will lead them in their professional lives. Being systematic in the approach to career planning allows for increased control over your career direction leading to more effective and satisfying career decisions. Career development consists of phases where certain issues and questions are addressed. Career development is a dynamic process and each individual moves through them at a different pace and in a different order.


How well you know yourself and what your values, skills and attitudes are play into your career choices. The Career and Professional Development Office can help you assess your skills, personality, interests, and values through FOCUS 2, an education and career planning tool. We want to ensure that the career path you choose is both personally and professionally fulfilling and rewarding to you.


This piece of the Career Development Model will help you define your interests and find an occupation in which you would be able to use those interests.


Through FOCUS 2 we can identify your personality type and help you match a career field and company culture that is most compatible with your style. This is not meant to categorize you, but merely to give you an understanding of where your tendencies lie. There are no wrong answers or bad types.


Once you identify your skills, learning how to transfer them into the workplace and marketing them to employers is essential. Your list of skills can carry a lot of weight when your application is reviewed by an employer. You should try to identify the skills you have and the skills you may need to gain or improve on. The ability to identify and learn new skills when necessary is, in itself, a skill (e.g. I am a fast learner).


Being prepared to answer tough interview questions about your experience is essential for landing an internship, co-op or job.  Even the jobs that you do not feel are relevant have provided you with valuable experiences and transferrable skills that you can utilize in any job.  For example, perhaps you have babysat multiple kids, if so you have developed some excellent conflict management and organizational skills that will be helpful in any profession.


Your values can make you feel self-worth within your career. A job where not only do you feel valued by the employer, but where you feel that you have made a difference in either the company or community can give you satisfaction about going to work day after day.

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Reality Check

The Reality Check portion of the Career Development process builds from a person's Self-Assessment. During this process you will gather information on employment trends, occupations, companies, and amount of education required. You will use this information in determining the best path for you.

Occupational Research

When contemplating a career or major, one of the first steps is to learn more about a field before selecting it as a final decision. Use resources to explore job qualifications, required education, job outlook, and compensation.

Occupational Interviewing

You can use an informational interview to gather first-hand information that will assist you in your choice of academic major, occupational field, or employer.

Company/Organization Research

When searching out organizations, it is important to find one that will provide the right fit between who you are and who they are and what they do. Questions you may wish to find the answers to may involve:

• company size,
• benefits,
• environment,
• whether they are regional, national, or international.

An important, but sometimes overlooked question to ask is, what exactly do they do? You can use the information gathered while researching companies to show future interviewers your knowledge of the company.

Employment Trends

It is difficult to predict what the job market will look like in the future — there are certain trends that make themselves apparent in the present. By making yourself aware of these trends, you are less likely to set yourself up for disappointment if the occupation you are interested in is in serious decline or amidst tough competition. Not only do trends show demands, they show information such as whether or not those employed in a certain field need more education (i.e. graduate degrees) than a few years ago.

Continuing Education

You may need to start preparing for graduate school sooner than you realize. Giving yourself time to think through and apply yourself to the research and application process is crucial to having the graduate school experience work for you. If you decide that graduate school fits into your goals, you will need to research different schools and programs, prepare and take admission tests, organize your graduate school applications and, if necessary, write your academic résumé. The Career and Professional Development Office can assist you with these steps throughout your journey.

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Once you've done a Self-Assessment and completed a Reality Check, you are ready to search, apply for, and land a job or graduate school seat. The Implementation phase of the Career Development Model focuses energy on just those things from creating a killer résumé to negotiating and sealing the deal. Get an advantage by working on your résumé and interviewing skills before and during your search.

Resume/Job Search Letters

When applying for a position, submitting a professional cover letter and résumé is crucial. The cover letter should not summarize but, rather, highlight the résumé making the reader want to know more. Once an employer decides to look at the résumé you have less than a minute to wow them before they move on to the next applicant. Your skills and qualifications should jump out and be easy to skim through. Use your minute wisely by learning how to write a cover letter and résumé that will get you invited for an interview.  Make sure to bring your documents in to the Career and Professional Development Office for a thorough review to ensure you are putting your best foot forward.


Do you know how to conduct yourself or what questions you should ask the employer during a job interview? You may have spent hours putting finishing touches on your résumé, but you often have less than 15 minutes to make a first impression. Learn how to carry yourself through an interview by finding out what responses and actions interviewers are looking for. Set up a time to do a mock interview with the Career and Profession Development Office. Mock interviews allow you to practice in an interview-like setting and receive valuable feedback from one of our career coaches.

Job Search Strategies

Once your résumé and cover letters are ready to go and you've mastered being an interviewee, you will need to get organized, sit down, and start the actual job search. The question you have now is, "Where do I start?" The Internet is filled with postings either on company sites or general job posting boards.  Also, ensure that your Pioneer Career Network profile is up to date and you are checking daily as we are receiving approximately 150 new job postings a week.

Network and Support

Networking isn't just about mingling with employers at job fairs. It also involves you getting your name out there to friends and employers. Because two out of three positions out there are not advertised, ask around to see if anyone is hiring. You may also wish to join a job search support group in order to expand your network.

Evaluate/Negotiate Offers

Evaluation and negation of job offers are key to feeling happy with a new job.  As you review offers it is essential to take into consideration more than the salary.  How should you evaluate or even negotiate these offers? Figure out what you are worth through research of what other people with your degree and experience are making in the area.  Write a pro’s and con’s list of the offers and determine what are personally negotiable items and what are deal breakers.  Then discuss in a professional manner with the employer your concerns, opportunities and alternatives.  If you are able to come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial, make sure to capture it in writing.

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Career Management

Perhaps you wish to explore a job or career change and find other options available to you. Maybe it is not a change you wish to explore, but achieve a better understanding of the workforce in regards to diversity issues or developing yourself professionally by staying up to date on the latest research or technologies. Changes in your lifestyle require you to adjust your life/work balance. Use the pieces of Career Management to guide you through the "working years" of your life.

Understanding Job Cycles

People change and after working for awhile you may realize that what you want in and from a job changes.  This is Self-Assessment through "experience" rather than research, and you've learned what it takes to make you feel satisfied with your work. By exploring resources you can figure out your next step, whether it is a new job, new career, or even a minor change within your current work situation.

Understanding Organizational Culture

Organizational Culture is more than just who reports what to who — it involves dress code, scheduling flexibility, mandatory events, company picnics and professional and personal relationships in the organization. In other words, it is knowing what makes your organization's work environment tick.  Organizational culture has an impact on how satisfied you are in a position and ultimately how effective you are. When working for an organization that’s culture aligns with you workstyle, it is very easy to remain happy, engaged and effective for a long time.

Managing Work Issues

Work issues are a fact that you will deal with throughout your professional career.  Just like life issues, they are unavoidable.  However, knowing what you can expect from your employer and co-workers regarding these issues is key to being prepared when they arise. Are you aware of government programs to assist you when you experience conflict in the work place? Do you know your rights and your responsibilities? When you encounter work-related issues and conflicts, explore the resources available to you.

Maintaining Balance

Life balance includes home, work, and personal life. Maintaining a balance allows you to apply the right amount of energy to the personally and professionally important pieces of your life. Figure out how to maintain this balance without a substantial change.

Professional Development

Stay up-to-date with the latest information that affects your job and organization whether it be technology, positive team management, or industry trends. By staying efficient and up-to-date with the latest skills, you not only expand your skill set, but set yourself apart from your colleagues by bringing fresh innovations to your job and organization.

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CPDO: Contact

Contact Information

Career and Professional Development Office
0200 Ullsvik Hall
1 University Plaza
Platteville, WI 53818

Tel: 608.342.1183

Office Hours:
7:45 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. (Academic Year)
7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Summer Months)

For more information about our team, see the CPDO Team Directory.

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