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CUNY Start - Getting the lowdown on careers

Find out real information about what a job/profession is like

Bingo!

There are many places to try to find out what particular jobs are really like. For this exercise, you can use any of the following types of resources. 

  • job listings
  • discussion boards
  • professional associations
  • books 
  • trade journals

Click on any of the links to the left to learn more about each kind of resources.

Click below to download a Bingo card. Pick any row of five squares (across, up and down, or diagonally) to make a BINGO of your answers. 

Here is an example of a finished BINGO sheet (with answers I would have put when I was researching what it was like to be a librarian!): Sample bingo card 

 

I1 : Something I learned that sounds good is that librarians say they're always learning something new on the job.

I2: I read in an online forum that the New York Public Library used to have a special program to hire library students as trainees.

I3: One professional association for librarians is the Association of College and Research Librarians.

I4: A book I'd like to read is called A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science.

I5: A required skill in a library job posting that I want to improve is HTML coding to make nice websites.

 

Job listings

Job listings let you examine real-world jobs - what kinds of duties would you have? What kinds of skills and experience would you need to qualify? The more job listings you look at for a particular kind of job, the more well-rounded your understanding will be of what is typically required.

Please note that when searching for job postings, it's easiest when you already have a sense of job titles -- if you don't yet, it's fine to experiment with searches to discover what job titles exist in your field of interest.

 

LinkedIn logo 

Take advantage of LinkedIn's search filters - for example, jobs at different experience levels, to get an idea of how your career could move forward. 

LinkedIn screenshot of search filters

 


idealist logo

For jobs in education and non-profit work, Idealist.org is a good site - notice that they also have a filter that allows you to look for jobs at different professional levels.  

Idealist screenshot job search

 

 


NYC Dept of Education logo

The NYC Department of Education of course is a good source for NYC public school jobs.

 

Discussion boards

Career-based discussion boards are a good place to see what people in the profession really talk about! 

Google the name of your profession + "discussion board" or "forum" and poke around to see what you find.

Some questions to ask yourself about a discussion board:

  • Is it active (lots of people posting, recently?)
  • Are most of the posts in the discussions constructive and respectful?
  • Do they have a section especially for students or people new to the career?

Some examples:


In Reddit, discussion boards are called "subreddits". A few sample subreddits:

You can Google subreddit plus whatever profession interests you to see if one exists for your chosen profession.

You can skim through the most recent or the most commented-on posts, or search for particular words, like this:

subreddit search with words "career advancement"

 

 

 

Professional associations

Many kinds of jobs have professional associations. These groups provide the opportunity for workers within a field to share knowledge, to network, and often to advocate for legislation and policies that benefit their profession.

Although to become a member of a professional organization you must pay dues and are usually already employed as a member of the profession (or studying to become one), the organization's websites are a good place to get an idea of:

  • what kind of issues matter most to people in the profession;
  • what challenges the profession faces;
  • new trends and developments in the profession; and so on. 

Try this search tool at Career One Stop, which is sponsored by the US Dept. of Labor.

Screenshot of search tool to find professional association

Start by typing in a profession and see what you find.  

Books on different professions

You can use OneSearch, Hostos Library's big-net search engine, to find articles and  ebooks about different professions.

To make sure that what you find is something you can read online, make sure "full text online" is checked off:

screenshot showing full text available box checked

Click here for more on how to use ebooks - remember that you may find one chapter or one section of a book that's relevant and interesting to you, you do not have to read the whole book!

If you specifically want only books or book chapters, you can also open the "resource type" menu to select those:

screenshot of resource type menu

SEARCH TIPS:

In addition to typing the name of the job in the search box, try different searches, adding words like: 

  • jobs
  • career
  • career path
  • vocational guidance (since a "vocation" is a field of work)

Try adding more specific information if relevant to your interest (e.g., child psychiatrist instead of psychiatrist, high school teacher instead of teacher, etc.)

 

Professional / Trade Journal Articles

What is a trade publication?

A trade publication (sometimes called a professional journal) is a magazine written for people who work in a particular profession (teachers, architects, engineers, nurses, etc.). They often (but not always) have the name of the profession in their title. 

 

How hard are trade publications to read? What are they good for? 

Since trade publication articles are written for people in a profession, they assume some specialized knowledge. However, they are usually not as difficult, specific, or long as peer-reviewed articles (also called "scholarly articles") in academic journals.

The articles are often meant to let readers know, in ordinary language, how something important (a theory, invention, trend, or law, for instance) will affect them as members of their profession. 

 

How do I find a trade publication article?

First, find a database that is relevant to the field you're interested in by going to the front page of the library website.

how to get to databases

 

To view databases by subject: 

open subject list of databases

open list of databases by subject

 

Choose a subject, and then choose a database. For example: 

 

example of database listings by subject - allied health

 

Within each database, there will be source type filters. They may look like this:

 

full screen of database search results with filters

 

-- or they may look like this, or they may look like something else - the important thing is to look for how you can filter by resource type.

 

gale database full screen with filters

 

PLEASE NOTE: If the results for your search don't include articles from trade publications, that category won't appear in the list of source types.

Also, some databases do not have a "trade publication" filter - but their "magazine" filter includes some trade publications. Try both and see what you get.

 

Some examples of databases that include trade publications are below, to get you started.

This is NOT a full list - for a full list of databases relevant to your field, follow the directions above.

 
Magazine filter leads to publications like Scientific American, Macworld, PC Magazine - even though these are general magazines, they assume an interest in and knowledge of the subject matter.
 
Trade publication filter leads to publications like Architectural Review, Hospitality Design, Art Business News, Museum News
 
Their magazines filter includes trade publications such as Hospital Employee Health, National Nurse, and Today's Dietician 
 
Trade publication filter leads to publications like Advertising Age, Broadcasting & Cable,  News Photographer
 
Magazine filter leads to publications like Corrections Today, Law Enforcement Product News
 
Magazine filter leads to publications like  Education Week, Teacher Trainer: A Practical Journal for Those Who Train, Mentor & Educate TESOL Teachers; Adjunct Nation
 
Magazine filter leads to publications like Music Trades, Billboard, Record Collector, Pro Sound News
 
Magazine filter leads to publications like Economist, New Statesman - these are general magazines, but they write for a college-educated audience.
 
Trade publications filter leads to publications like Aviation Week and Space Technology, National Defense, Armed Forces Journal
Magazines filter leads to publications like Jane's Defence Weekly (very famous), National Geographic, Marine Corps Gazette
 
Magazine filter leads mostly to general audience magazines like Runner's World and SHAPE (which do assume a strong interest in the subject matter), but includes some trade publications like Coach and Athlelic Director.
 
Magazine filter leads to publications like: Corrections Forum, Psychotherapy Network Magazine, New Social Worker
 
 

 

Other sources of info

O*NET logo

O*NET is run by the US Dept. of Labor and provides good overviews of many professions. Search here!


 

The Houston Chronicle's website has some good overview articles on careers, but they don't have a good search function. One way to see if they have articles on a job that interests you is to do a site-specific Google search, by typing in (without spaces)

site:work.chron.com

and then put a space, and type your search terms (in this case, a profession or job). Here are some examples - try it with whichever job/profession interests you!

google search in chronicle for nursing

google search within chronicle for graphic design

google search within chronicle for forensics

 

Notes about majors

Traditionally, an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts has been a stepping stone to earning a Bachelor's Degree at a four-year college.

But at a four-year college, "liberal arts" doesn't exist as one major! Instead, it's a very broad category that includes:

  • humanities like History, Spanish, Journalism, and Comparative Literature;
  • social sciences like Urban Planning, Political Science, and Anthropology;
  • arts like Film Studies, Architecture, Dance, and Theater; and
  • interdisciplinary majors like Africana Studies, Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies; and more.

When four-year colleges talk about a "liberal arts education", they generally mean a well-rounded and diverse education that includes courses in the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and arts.

According to the Census, almost three-fourths of people with a college degree end up in a job that is not the same as their undergraduate major, partly because it's the skills you develop in college that matter more than your major. Some go on to graduate school to deepen their studies at the Master's or Doctoral level, which may be required for some jobs (like psychologist or engineer). 

Some of the best colleges in the country are small liberal arts colleges, and they offer many many many majors.

The four-year CUNY Colleges also over a variety of liberal arts majors - for example at City College, Lehman, and Hunter

Takeaways: if you're interested in a job that is not the same as your major, investigate it to see what it would be like! Your major does not have to equal your job.