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Career Exploration Paper

Linsdale Graham

Bridgewater State University


Kuhn and Sketerud (2000) speak about the current age of “e-commerce” and how this

boom has transformed the product markets and as a result, how the internet has greatly

influenced the labor market. From job search, to recruiters finding prospective employees, many

of it is done via the internet sometimes right on our smart phones. When the culture changes, as

counselors or helpers, we must make accommodations to better serve our clients but also be

mindful to ensure our own wellbeing is not compromised. In this paper, I will discuss two online

job search engines, their basic utility and its effect on career counseling. Then, an assessment of

how the internet and technology are not only affecting the labor market but the possible effects

on self-care for counselors with an introspective view of a personal hobby and how it’s practice

has aided my personal and professional development.

While ‘pounding the pavement’ in relation having to physically go from place to place to

inquire and gain information about jobs may be a thing of the past thanks to technology; there is

still much to be said about being physically in a space and having that practical application. The

internet has been very convenient in not only finding jobs but also knowing possibilities for

building personal and professional capital. Whether through education or online webinars and

training or even search engines. Two particular job search engines used were the Bureau of

Labor Statistics Job Outlook Handbook and O’NET online, which is sponsored by the United

States department of labor. I searched three jobs: Educator (Psychology, Counseling),

Community Outreach Manager and Substance Abuse Therapist.

The internet and navigating it could be a point of contention for many, therefore one of

the first aspects assessed was the user friendliness of both sites. Upon getting to the home screen,

The Job Outlook Handbook is more easily organized with categories regarding the fields of

interest we may have regarding careers, these are placed on the immediate left where one can

simply click and scroll the various sub categories. The only down side is that the fields were very

general and somewhat limiting because positions often transcend the basic categories. Especially

in a world where there are diverse fields and positions available. The interconnectedness of the

fields while navigating made it slightly difficult. For example, I was looking for Psychology

professor and while I assumed it would be under education, after scrolling a few I realized it was

actually under psychology. Also there was no option to specifically type in a particular field and

search based on specific terms. This may cause some confusion for some clients based on their

level of understanding or even patience. Despite these little nuances, once a little more familiar it

is still easy to maneuver. The Job Outlook could be really helpful as a starting point and the user

must be open when navigating. ONet is a little more aesthetically confusing with a lot happening

on the home screen. For instance, the home screen has about 6 different search options and each

search box has a different color. Additionally, there are two survey type prompts embedded on

the screen. While these are all useful in career exploration, visually it could be overwhelming. It

may be more effective with a simpler menu equipped with drop down boxes for a seamless

navigation. Despite the over stimulating optics of the home page, ONET allows for a more

precise search and populates an extensive list of job options which makes for an in-depth search.

Both engines offer a great search tool in career exploration whether for a professional simply

looking at job options in a specific field or someone exploring based on interest and ideas.

Updated information regarding particular fields, in addition to potential growth projection of

careers and useful information regarding salaries and representation this can all help to create a

more informed consumer. This was extremely helpful because the job search process could be

stressful and having all that information could alleviate some concerns and anxiety that may be

present among our clients. Clients coming in for career counseling normally indicate that there is

some distress associated with this process and they are trying to alleviate some of that so as

counselors we must ensure we do our best to eliminate some foreseeable stressors.. The engines

serve as a great starting point for anyone job searching and it is convenient that anyone with an

internet connection can access it. This access is vital for when we are working with clients who

require career counseling and have a lot of concerns or questions. They can access this site,

perhaps during the course of a session and we can explore some options as questions arise.

Zunker (2012) defines career as the many roles we may play. An important aspect of the

many roles played, is the transition that occurs as we move from one role to the next throughout

our lifetime. Transitions will be rampant throughout a person’s lifespan, and career transitions

may be particularly difficult as many other aspects of our existence are attached to careers. In

relation to a client, I would recommend being aware of themselves as they maneuver these

transitions in their careers. Emphasizing that our reaction as we move through these stages can

help to highlight a lot about our personal challenges and coping mechanisms. Additionally, I

would recommend that a client inform themselves as much as they can regarding the labor

market and the Particular field they are interested in exploring. This would be helpful because I

think the more awareness our client have, it can help to not only reduce some anxiety but also

help them to be more intentional about their pursuits. Having an understanding of the labor

market here in the USA and the systemic factors that may potentially affect their engagement in

the field can help to empower and ensure they develop their capital with information and

navigate those spaces with more confidence. In exploring careers, I would recommend that in

addition to gathering information and building awareness, I’d aim at normalizing the stress

associated with transitions and encourage trying on the various hats and gaining that practical

experience. Many persons fall victim to focusing on a status or a salary, when their happiness is

really what would ensure longevity in a certain career and also this can allow for them to be open

to possible changes. My final recommendation is that whether searching or in a career they love,

self-care is very important and should always be priority. Finding things that may be outside of

work or work related stuff to enjoy themselves and stay healthy physically and mentally. This

conscious effort to maintain their wellness will ensure that no matter what field, they can have

more clarity and maneuver a little easier as the challenges of life affect them. Focusing on self-

care is so essential for clients and it is imperative that counselors practice what we preach but

many professionals struggle with this concept.

Counselors, working to provide service to others while staying current with research,

techniques and also coping with their own personal challenges often neglect their own wellness

and self-care. While we are in an era of everything being at our fingertips, we often lose grasp of

some of the most important things along the way. A study by the American Counseling

Association (ACA) found that 75.7% of mental health professionals reported that impaired

mental health professionals are a significant threat to the profession and 63.5% of mental health

professionals reported knowing a colleague who was impaired. (ACA, 2010) These figures while

alarming are not surprising, many persons who give a lot of themselves, often forget to fill their

own cup. Whether it be heavy caseloads, financial constraints or the demands for short term

therapy (O’Halloran & Linton, 2000), counselors and other humans service professionals must

incorporate practices on a regular basis which nourishes our mind, body and soul. Otherwise, the

entire profession and its integrity could be at stake. Being mindful of this, I try to ensure that

caring for myself is prioritized above all else because I cannot pour from an empty cup. My self-

care activities vary from staying active and going to the gym, to talking on the phone with loved

ones but also listening to podcasts lead by social justice fighters. Podcasts gives users the ability

to have radio shows at their fingertips without the pressure of having to listen at a specific time.

Additionally, it allows the convenience of finding particular recordings according to your

interests. My discovery of podcasts emerged out of me following some young influential persons

in social justice and trying to promote change and wanting to learn from their experiences in

promoting change. In listening to these podcasts, namely: “Pod Save the People” and “One on

One with Angela Rye” I am able to gain insight into social justice, politics, and even pop culture

and hip hop all in the frame of a regular conversation among different people. The dialogue

aspect of the shows really appealed to me, I am not being read the news but real people just

discussing various views on pertinent topics. I have been able to learn how to maneuver

discussions that touch on sensitive issues, especially with persons that may not be as open to

other views. This was pivotal for me because while my awareness about oppression and injustice

increases, many things become more vivid and I feel an obligation to help persons engage in a

way where they actually discern their own reality. I learned how to help persons change their

own awareness with simply getting them to think about things in a different way. This translates

well for me as a counselor, it can help me to better learn to bring matters to the attention of

others but be mindful of the tone and the time. Safeguarding the relationship and ensuring that

there is growth as a result, for both involved. I have also learnt how to articulate myself a little

better, the more I listened and took notes and did my own subsequent research, my thoughts were

able to be supported with factual information which is helpful in articulating myself. This is very

helpful as I not only engage with clients and help to reflect, mirror and reassure, but also as I

assume roles of leadership positions and get a larger platform to advocate for myself and others.

The enjoyment I feel when listening to these persons broaden my knowledge and view of the

world, is undeniable. There is a part of my mind that expands as I learn more about myself,

society and people in general. Upon listening to the podcasts and journaling, one of my main

take away was the possibilities of maybe doing one of my own at some point. Partaking in this

activity has helped to expand my mind in relation to the impact I can have, not only in mental

health and counseling but on a larger scale of social justice and activism. Listening to the people

who are in ordinary jobs, living ordinary lives, dedicate their time and effort to informing

themselves and others, as a way to create social change is powerful. I hope to employ this in

whatever role I assume, not only advocating for the profession but also utilizing this medium as a

form of self-care and wellness as I develop personally and professionally.

Whether amplifying voices through the use of the internet or simply searching for a

career, the internet has undeniably helped to provide both useful and not so useful effects on our

society. Online search engines provide a myriad of benefits in helping someone to choose a path

for their career or confirm a place for others. As counselors, adapting to better serve our clients is

essential to the profession, but ensuring that our personal wellness and care is top priority is even

more vital and should always be our first priority because we cannot pour from an empty cup.

American Counseling Association’s Taskforce on Counseling Wellness and Impairment. (2010).

Retrieved from

Kuhn, & Sketeturd. (2000). Job Search Methods. Retrieved from

O’Halloran,  T.  M.,  &  Linton,  J.  M.  (2000).  Stress  on  the  job:  Self-­‐care  resources  for  mental  health  

professionals.  Journal  of  mental  health  counseling.  22.  354-­‐355    

Sharf, Richard S (2013). Applying career development theory to counseling (Sixth edition).

Belmont, CA Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning

Zunker, V.G. (2012). Career Counseling: A Holistic Approach. 8th ed. USA: Brooks/Cole

Cengage Learning.