Taking a systematic approach to planning your career allows you to have more control over your career direction and can lead you to make more effective and satisfying career decisions. Career development should be a dynamic process that involves several steps. Each person moves through these steps at a different pace and in a different order. At the Career and Professional Development Office, we can help you on your journey.

Here are some useful tips and resources to assist with your career development process. From self-assessments to job research to career management, we offer a wide range of support and services.


How well you know yourself and what your values, skills, and attitudes are play into your career choices. We want to ensure that the career path you choose is both personally and professionally fulfilling and rewarding to you.

The Career and Professional Development Office can help you to complete a self-assessment using FOCUS 2, an education and career planning tool. The tool will help you to assess your interests, personality, skills, experiences, and values.


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.


Once you identify your skills, learning how to transfer them into the workplace and marketing them to employers is essential.


Being prepared to answer tough interview questions about your experience is critical for landing an internship, a co-op, or a job.


Your values can make you feel self-worth within your career. A job where you feel valued by the employer and where you also feel that you have made a difference in either the company or community can give you satisfaction about going to work day after day.

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. You should research relevant occupational information such as job qualifications, required education, job outlook, and compensation.

Occupational Interviewing 

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

Company/Organization Research

When researching companies and organizations, it is important to find the right fit between who you are and who they are and what they do. An important, but sometimes overlooked question to ask is, what exactly does the company do?

Employment Trends

Be knowledgeable of employment trends in the career field you wish to pursue. By making yourself aware of these trends, you will be less likely to set yourself up for disappointment if the occupation you are interested in is in serious decline or amidst tough competition.

Continuing Education 

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.


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.

Resume and Cover Letter 

When applying for a position, submitting a professional cover letter and resume is crucial. The cover letter should not summarize but, rather, highlight the resume making the reader want to know more. Once an employer decides to look at your resume you will have less than a minute to impress them before they move on to the next applicant. Use your minute wisely by learning how to write a cover letter and resume that will get you invited for an interview.

Bring your documents to the Career and Professional Development Office for a thorough review to ensure you are putting your best foot forward.


Learn how to carry yourself through an interview by finding out what responses and actions interviewers are looking for from potential hires. Mock interviews allow you to practice in an interview-like setting and receive valuable feedback. We encourage you to set up a time to do a mock interview with one of our Career and Professional Development Specialists.

Job Search Strategies

The Internet is filled with postings either on company sites or online job posting boards, and our Handshake system includes job postings from the more than 200,000 participating employers seeking candidates from every area of study. Make sure that your Handshake profile is updated and that you are checking daily as we receive 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 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. 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.

Career Management 

Managing your career is an active and ongoing process.

Understanding Job Cycles 

People change. After working for a while, you may realize that what you want in and from a job also has changed. 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 has an impact on how satisfied you are in a position and ultimately how effective you are. When working for an organization that has a culture that aligns with your workstyle, it is very easy to remain happy, engaged, and effective for a long time.

Managing Work Issues  

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? We can connect you to resources that can help you to address and resolve work-related issues and conflicts.

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.

Professional Development 

By staying efficient and up-to-date with the latest skills, you not only expand your skills, but also set yourself apart from your colleagues by bringing fresh innovations to your job and organization.

At the Career and Professional Development Office, we are here to help you along your career path. For more information, contact us at 608.342.1183 or cpdo@uwplatt.edu or visit us at 200 Ullsvik Hall.

Contact Information

Career & Professional Development Office

0200 Ullsvik Hall
Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m.