Going to College

Transcript: Exploring my interests

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Hi, my name’s Erica Lovelace, and I’m going to talk to you today a little bit about exploring your interests. My focus is going to be on employment. The reason for that is that I work for the Department of Rehabilitative Services, commonly referred to in most states as Vocational Rehabilitation. Every state has a VR office, and your school personnel can help you locate an office near you.

Some of the things that you might want to consider in working with a VR office is they can assist you in exploring your interest through assessments, formal as well as informal, some paper and pencil tests. Some community-based assessments, where you’re out in the community actually identifying your interest areas. And part of the assessment process, a huge part of it, is to look at what are you interested in, what are the things that you like, what are some things that you do in your spare time. And try to look at that in terms of the things that you’re interested in. Would you be interested in having a job working within those areas?

Some of the things that you can do as you continue to explore your interests is if you’re a student with a disability and you have an IEP, an individualized education plan, as you’re running your IEP meeting, you can ask your school personnel to include assessments and interest inventories as part of your individualized plan for your educational plan. That would help not only you but your school personnel to identify what kind of course work should you be taking based on what you’re interested in doing. And your course work is going to build on identifying your interests and helping you identify what kinds of training and educational opportunities you might want to have once you exit the school system.

If you are not a student under an IEP and you have a 504 plan or you’re a student with a disability that perhaps isn’t receiving any services whatsoever, there are a lot of things that you can do independently to help you explore your interests and help you plan for career options.

One of the ones that you might want to look at is an interest inventory called the Kuder and you can really Google Kuder (K-U-D-E-R). I would suggest that you Google it and it will give you all kinds of information as to the benefits of the Kuder. Some of the benefits that I see are it’s self-paced. You don’t have to take a full hour of your time and sit down and go from start to finish. You can work on it a little bit until you are tired of doing it, put it away for a while and then come back to it later. It’s a computerized test so any of the information that you enter is saved until you complete the interest inventory. Once you’ve completed the interest inventory, you’re going to get a portfolio. It’s going to take your interests and match those interests to different employment clusters, which will be really helpful in helping you further identify areas of interest to you as you plan your career.

Some of the other things you might want to do to explore your interests would be to maybe look at some volunteer jobs. You can do that maybe through some programs at your school, within your community, and look at working in different environments to help you identify what types of things are you interested in? Keeping in mind that your interests have a lot to do with what you’re familiar with, maybe what your parents do, what family and friends do, also your values. What are the things that important to you as an individual as to what you’re interested in? And as you’re looking at volunteer work, do you like working indoors? Do you like working outdoors? Are you interested in being around people on a regular basis? Are you interested in problem solving? Are you interested in working with your hands? Do you like challenges? All of those personal interests help you determine what your career interests may be.

Another thing that you might want to consider is some summer employment opportunities. Summer employment is probably one of the best ways to determine what you might be interested in in terms of a career. Actually experience it. Work in the job. Work with people that are doing jobs that you see yourself doing in the future once you’ve exited school and obtained some postsecondary training. Don’t limit yourself when you’re thinking of what you’re interested in. Keep your options very broad, and as you move forward, you can narrow that focus down and concentrate on the areas that really seem to be of the most interest to you.

And once again, don’t forget to contact your local VR office. The VR office can really help you with career assessments, looking at what your skills are, what your aptitudes are, giving you information, guidance and counseling, and looking at what are the current trends in employment, what kinds of career options might be available based on the interests that you have.

In closing, just remember to have fun, explore your interests, don’t limit your creativity. You’ll never know what things you might find interesting until you’ve explored some different possibilities. So, have fun as you move forward.

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