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Research Career Paths

Occupational Outlook

While it’s important to do what you’re passionate about (especially if you have to go to college for several years before getting the job!), it’s also important to research the field. Many sectors such as healthcare and information technology are booming while others like journalism and music production are considered industries with fewer employment opportunities. Research possible occupations or career fields in order to understand what the demand for that position will be when you graduate if immediate employment is very important. Some students choose to go to school just for the sake of learning the material, so low demand employment projections will not matter. Many veterans use their experience in the military as a starting point for developing their career interests by studying fields related to their military occupation such as human resources or criminal justice.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides career-specific information on:
  • training and education needed
  • earnings
  • expected job prospects
  • what workers do on the job
  • working conditions
By weighing the pros and cons of different career paths, veterans can have a more realistic expectation of their employability after graduation.

Talk With Professionals in the Field 

While written information about careers is useful, talking with people actually working in the career of interest can provide even more valuable insights to the day to day demands of a specific occupation. College career centers recommend contacting professionals to arrange a thirty minute informational interview.

An informational interview in which you are asking the questions is less stressful than a typical interview with an employer. You will find that people enjoy talking about their work experiences and providing advice to interested individuals. Read through the sample interview questions and select the questions you would like to ask. Feel free to add your own as well. Informational interviews also provide an excellent opportunity to network and to find out about related occupations.

Explore Two Year Degrees

If you aren’t sure of your long term career goal, you may want to do what many others do – enroll in a community college. The wealth of educational benefits these colleges provide can be advantageous to your career growth. Equally important is the support that is provided to active duty military and veterans.

Community colleges in general have an open door admissions policy for Virginia residents 18 years of age or older who hold a high school diploma. Any prior college credits and military training may be more readily accepted as degree credits than with a four year college. Additionally, many community colleges within the Virginia Community College System have guaranteed admission agreements with public four year colleges and universities in Virginia. So, you can earn an associates (or 2 year) degree, then opt to work in that field or transfer to a four year college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree (or 4 year degree). Planning for your transfer begins the first semester of your community college experience. 

Get Work Experience

Virginia Employment Commission (VEC)

Work experience plays an important role in selecting and confirming a career choice. The VEC provides career-specific information, and offers a state job portal as well as tips for veterans and other residents of the Commonwealth. The agency also offers military-specific employment services for transitioning veterans.

The VEC Veterans Services office assists veterans from all periods of military service who are eligible for job referral, job training and job placement assistance with an emphasis on those veterans who are disabled, minority, female, homeless, and/or culturally or economically disadvantaged. A list of military friendly employers also helps veterans hunt down those jobs which value their service and education.
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