Career research examples

Looking up sample job ideas, conducting informational meetings, identifying your career motivators, doing grad school research, talking to a career educator, exploring labour market information... there are many ways to research potential career options!

There's no "right" way to go about your career exploration. Here, we've put together some student examples to show you how you might put together many different pieces—to explore careers in a way that works for you.

Brittany is choosing a major and wants to explore career options

  • Brittany is in first year and thinking about which major to choose. She’s considering a BA in anthropology, but she wonders what career options are available.
  • Brittany starts by looking at the What can you do with your degree? sheet for anthropology. She knows she enjoys researching Indigenous issues, working directly with people and providing helpful services. A couple of career samples on the sheet— “Indigenous education advisor” and “heritage interpreter”—catch her eye.
  • Brittany looks up these job titles on a couple of national labour market information sites (Canada Job Bank and Career Cruising) and finds a few more more related career options that sound interesting—“Traditional land use researcher”, “‘Traditional Ways’ outdoor education facilitator” and “heritage interpreter” (museums).
  • Brittany is open to working anywhere in Canada, but she would prefer to be near her family in BC. She visits WorkBC and looks up what job prospects are like in BC for the career options she’s found.
  • Brittany’s friend who is a grad student tells her there are job opportunities for traditional land use research work in Victoria (e.g. Golder Associates), a number of ‘Traditional Ways’ outdoor education opportunities (e.g. camps in Cowichan and Salt Spring Island), and heritage interpreter opportunities at Victoria’s Royal BC Museum.
  • Brittany drops in to talk to a career educator at UVic about her career exploration and choosing her major. Her career educator encourages her to conduct informational meetings with people who work in the field.
  • Brittany contacts a heritage interpreter at the Royal BC Museum and asks him for an informational meeting. He shares information about his role at the museum, what credentials he acquired to qualify for the position, what volunteer work helped his application, whether there are many job openings in the field and what future career growth might look like.
  • Brittany isn’t sure which exact career she might pursue yet, but she thinks that working in the museum field as a heritage interpreter sounds really interesting, especially if she could raise awareness and promote public discussion about traditional Indigenous ways and issues. She feels excited about the direction of the career possibilities she’s discovered, and decides that a BA in anthropology would indeed be a good fit for her.

Steve is worried there are no jobs for his degree

  • Steve is nearing the end of his third year. He’s passionate about acting and drama production and he’s pursuing a theatre degree.
  • Lately, he’s feeling discouraged because he’s heard rumblings about how there aren’t any jobs for fine arts majors. He wonders if that statement is really true, though, and begins some research to try to answer that question.
  • Steve logs in to Career Cruising and tries out the Career Selector tool. It asks him a few questions, like which subjects he likes most, the kinds of tasks he’d like to work on in his ideal job, desired earnings and more. This generates some career ideas, including:
    • Actor
    • Communications specialist
    • Exhibit designer
    • Lighting technician
    • Producer
    • Public relations specialist
    • Set designer
  • Some of these careers—like “Actor”, “Producer” and “Set designer”—were ones Steve expected—he would love to work on or around the drama stage. But a couple of the other options catch his eye: “Communications specialist”, “Exhibit designer” and “Public relations specialist”. These are unexpected but sound interesting, and he realizes they would use many similar skills.
  • But what are the job prospects like for these career ideas? Steve heads over to the Canada Job Bank and chooses “Outlooks” under “Explore Careers”. He types in some of his suggestions from Career Cruising:
    • Actor/actress: “Undetermined” across most of Canada, “Limited” in Nova Scotia” and “Fair” in Quebec
    • Producer/director: “Undetermined” across most of Canada and “Fair” in Quebec
    • Lighting technician (comes up as “Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts”): “Limited” in most provinces
    • Communications specialist: “Fair” or “Good” outlook across most of Canada—that sounds promising!
    • Public relations specialist: Also “Fair” or “Good” outlook across most of Canada
  • Steve considers the results. A career in communications or public relations might be a great way to gain relevant skills while working towards his longer-term goal of a career related to theatre. Many arts, culture and non-profit organizations hire communications and public relations staff.
  • Steve remembers a professor mentioning professional associations you can join. In a Google search, he discovers the Canadian Arts Presenting Association. He learns that by becoming a member, he’ll receive a newsletter with ongoing discussions and updates about presenting and touring companies. Membership is a bit pricey for his budget right now, but he follows them on Twitter, and makes a note to keep that in mind for the future.
  • Steve now has some actionable steps to take and he’s feeling more in control and positive about his career prospects. He realizes he has almost no business experience, as his previous jobs have all been working at summer camps for kids. One way to enhance his fine arts degree and gain some extra marketable skills might be to take some writing, communications or business electives. He could also try to pick up a volunteer position to gain some relevant experience.

Amina is graduating soon and exploring her options

  • Amina is a fourth-year biology student. She’ll be graduating after next term, but she’s been so focused on her coursework she hasn’t thought much about her future career plans. She’s suddenly feeling overwhelmed by the idea of figuring out a career after UVic and worried that graduation is coming up so fast.
  • Amina has enjoyed her biology classes but hasn’t really settled on her “favourite” area of biology, so she doesn’t really know where to start.
  • She has been doing a Work Study project with an ecology professor that has gone well—it’s been exciting to get some results and evaluate the data. The professor has been very encouraging and mentioned she should consider graduate school. The idea of more school right away isn’t too appealing, but she doesn’t really know what else she might do instead.
  • Amina does a little online research and sees that deadlines for applying to grad school are January to March. She feels a little panicked that she would not have time to fill in the applications with all her assignments and mid terms happening around the same time. She also sees that most have application fees. She meets with a career educator, who helps her realize that she wants to be more certain about this option and have money set aside.
  • In considering possible work options, Amina would like to work in Victoria or somewhere nearby. She researches employers in this area and finds a City of Victoria Economic Development report and the Greater Victoria Development Agency website. She sees that the marine industry and the government sector (local and provincial) are big employers in Victoria.
  • Amina looks at some of the BC government ministries. The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources do work in the area of ecology and might be possible options for her. She’s not sure how to get started on a job search, though. She has had a couple of friends in co-op who have worked for these ministries and now wishes she had tried the co-op option.
  • Amina drops by the co-op office to see if it is really too late to join co-op. She learns that the Post-Study Internship is an option available to her, where she can gain work experience after finishing her courses but before graduating. There might be some BC government jobs coming up when she's finished her coursework, but the co-op coordinator also points out other local employers that might be good options.
  • Amina decides to pursue the Post-Study Internship. She can try out one or two options to see if they are a good fit and also use this as an opportunity to network.  The BC government job postings she’s found so far often require a Master’s degree, and while on her Post-Study Internship, she can research which grad programs would give her the skills and qualifications needed. She would also have time to fill out applications and meet with potential supervisors before making a commitment.

Zhou wants to work abroad after graduation

  • Zhou is a third-year electrical engineering student. He’s interested in working outside Canada after graduation and building an international career. He’s done two co-op terms already and he’s considering going abroad for his next co-op term to gain some international experience.
  • Zhou visits the international co-op coordinator and learns about some co-op exchange opportunities, including CANEU-COOP and co-op in Japan. The coordinator also helps him align these co-op goals with his strategy to build a successful career as an international engineer.
  • Zhou starts with GoinGlobal. He starts to develop his knowledge of industries and work search standards in other countries and begins to build a list of potential employers in his target countries.
  • He checks out the What can you do with your degree? sheet for electrical engineering, which gives him a basic sense of job titles he can try searching on international job boards and professional organizations like IEEE.
  • Next, Zhou visits the enginering career educator, who helps him understand different career options for an electrical engineer and how his design courses are helping him to build the transferable competencies to compete in the international labour market.
  • Zhou then signs up for the IEEE social collaboration platform, where he finds other young professionals who are working internationally, helping him hear how others have developed their international careers.
  • Zhou finds a number of international companies on GoinGlobal that hire electrical engineers in the countries he's interested in working in (e.g., electrical utilities, communications companies and manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment). This helps him narrow down his international job search.

Alison wants to build a new business as an entrepreneur

  • Alison worked for a painting company during a summer co-op work term.
  • The following summer, she decides to open her own painting company in Comox, BC.
  • She begins by writing a business plan. To inform her plan, she uses the Canada Job BankWorkBC and Statistics Canada to analyze:
    • History of the painting market and future growth trends
    • Current economic conditions
    • Painting industry trends
    • Target market (demographics)
    • Current size of the painting market
  • Alison consults with the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs (ICE) at UVic to get support and advice on her business plan.
  • She also accesses resources, articles and events on the Small Business BC website.
  • Wanting to make connections, she searches for networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs on MeetUp where she can share best practices and ideas.