You don’t need to have everything completely figured out to begin reflecting on and making decisions as it relates to:
- your major
- jobs, internships, fellowships or service opportunities
- continuing your education after you finish your degree
Start by identifying some key words or phrases that describe your values, interests, skills, and decision-making style. You can use these terms to inform the next step in your career development.
Values are the principles that motivate every decision you make. Values originate from a variety of sources, including families, personal experiences, or the cultural contexts in which you’ve lived. Clarifying your values and understanding how they connect to various work environments can help you identify meaningful work.
Values exercise 1: values card sort
- Download these values cards, print them and cut the cards out. If you don’t have a printer, you can download this values spreadsheet and use it to identify each value’s importance on a drop-down menu and sort accordingly. If you don’t want to deal with Excel, you can download this Word document and use formatting (underline or bold, for instance) to categorize your values.
- Sort the values cards into 3 piles, high, medium, or low, based on how important the values are to you.
- When you’ve sorted all your values cards, set aside your medium and low-importance value cards and turn your attention to the high-importance cards. Whittle your pile of high-importance cards down to 10 values cards. (If you have fewer than 10 cards in your high-importance pile, take enough cards from your medium-importance pile to make 10.)
- Reflect. Now that you have your top 10 values, take time to reflect. How did you get to be the person who values the things you do? Where do your values come from? From your experiences? From your family traditions? Out of your identity? When and where have you not been able to live your values? Would your high school self have chosen these values? What tensions or conflicts are there in your values?
- Discuss. How was this activity for you? Which values were non-negotiable? How might you make choices this semester or summer to live out these values in your coursework and the things you do outside the classroom?
Values exercise 2: top five values reflection
Paying attention to your interests and your skills can be a good way to discover what energizes you or what makes you feel aligned with your values.
It can be helpful to consider your interests in a variety of contexts—recreational, professional, and academic. What do you like to do for fun? What was your favorite summer job or volunteer activity? What classes do you seek out when creating your schedule? Any of these might be relevant when thinking about potential careers.
The goal of this activity is not to make a career or major decision today, but to understand your decision-making process and how it can be helpful moving forward. It can also be beneficial to consider past decisions you have made. For example, how did you decide to come to Georgetown? Consider the process and factors that influenced you.