Are you confident in your skills and abilities? Do you know exactly what you want or can accomplish? How well you know yourself and how effectively you can do the things you need to do are central to your success not only as a college student but also as a person. Self-assessment is the process of gathering information about oneself in order to make informed decisions.

Self-assessment is a good first step in setting your academic and career goals. While you might know what you like to do and what you are good at doing, you may lack a clear idea of how your self-knowledge can help you explore different career possibilities. Factors that can affect your career choices include your values, skills, aptitudes, personality, and interests.


Your values, formed through your life experiences, are those things you feel most strongly about. For career planning, values generally refer to what you most want in a career in relation to how you want to live. For example, some people value job security, money, and a regular schedule. Others value flexibility, excitement, independence, variety, and particular work environments such as the outdoors. Some career choices pay higher salaries than others but may require hard work and long hours.

Thus, knowing your personal wishes and needs in relation to your values is important. You might find that what you value most is not money but rather the chance to work for a specific cause or the opportunity to have a particular lifestyle. In general, being aware of what you value is important because a career choice that is closely related to your core values is likely to be the best choice. If your values are not in line with the values of the organization where you work, you might be in for trouble.

A Passion for Helping People? Do you enjoy working with the public? Are you interested in helping sick people? Do you want to work in a health-related field? Does a career in the health professions align with your values, interests, and personality? If you’re not sure, you might want to reconsider your plans.
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Aptitude and Skills


Aptitude is your natural or acquired proficiency in a particular area, which makes it easier for you to learn certain skills and do certain things. The ability to do something well can usually be improved with practice. You may bring different skills to multiple situations, and it is important to know both your strengths and weaknesses. Skills typically fall into three categories:

  1. Personal. Some skills come naturally or are learned through personal experience. Examples of these skills are honesty, punctuality, teamwork, self-motivation, and conflict management.

  2. Workplace. Some skills can be learned on the job; others are gained through training designed to increase your knowledge or expertise in a certain area. Examples include designing websites, bookkeeping, and providing customer service.

  3. Transferable. Some skills gained through your previous jobs, hobbies, or even everyday life can be transferred to another job. Examples include planning events, motivating others, paying attention to detail, and organizing workspaces.

When you shine a light on your aptitudes, you can discover a path in which your strengths become your best intellectual assets. By identifying your skill set, you can turn your current skills into career possibilities.


Your personality refers to the combination of your characteristics or qualities that combine to form your characterhow you think, feel, and behave. Your personality makes you who you are and can’t be ignored when you make career decisions. The quiet, orderly, calm, detail-oriented person will probably make a different work choice than the aggressive, outgoing, argumentative person will. Using an assessment tool such as the well-known and widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you understand how you make decisions, perceive the world, and communicate with others.

Getting a good sense of your values, skills, aptitudes, personality, and interests will help you make a career choice that leads to success and satisfaction. Each of us defines success and satisfaction in our own way. The process is complex and personal. Two factors can change how we feel about our success and happiness: knowing that we are achieving the life goals we’ve set for ourselves and finding that we gain satisfaction from what we’re receiving from our work.



Work with a classmate and discuss the jobs you have had, either for pay or as a volunteer. Which of your jobs was your favorite? Which did you dislike? Be prepared to discuss your reasons in class and to offer thoughts about what your previous work experiences tell you about your preferences for work in the future.