- About IDCE
IDCE Career Development and External Relations
Creating a Focus
Two years can go quickly! It is important, once you are settled into your first semester classes at IDCE, and your new living arrangements, that you spend some time creating a professional FOCUS. Having a focus allows you to:
- Pick your courses more strategically,
- Be more selective about the kind of work and/or internship experience you pursue during your master’s program, and
- Communicate to potential employers that you have a real, demonstrated commitment to your field of interest.
For example: Are you interested in sustainable development? How would you define your interest? In project management or policy? Where would you like to work? Are you interested in agricultural, environmental work, climate change, or community development?
Self-Assessment is an important part of the career planning process. By becoming more aware of your work preferences, skills, interests, values, and lifestyle preferences, you maximize your chances of making career decisions that suit you and will make you happy.
The IDCE Career Development Office can assist you with self-assessment. There are also a number of books that contain self-assessment exercises. A few especially well-known books include:
- What Next? By Barbara Moses
- Zen and The Art of Making a Living by Lawrence Boldt
- What Color is Your Parachute? By Richard Bolles
There are also a number of self-assessment exercises online; some are free, while others charge a fee. A few popular ones are listed below:
- This site provides the opportunity to use a variety of assessment tools including: Strong Interest, MBTI, 16PF, and others. Fee based tools.
- Keirsey Temperament Sorter
- A look at personal patterns and preferences based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Divides preferences into four temperaments: Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational.
- Emotional Intelligence Quotient
- This assessment tool helps determine your capacity for effectively recognizing and managing your emotions and those of others, so they do not interfere with important work and social relationships.
- Interpersonal Communications Skills Test
- This test is designed to evaluate your general level of communication skills.
- Transferable Skills Survey
- You can use this survey to try to identify transferable skills that can be applied to a variety of professional environments–for example, communication, management, research, planning, and more.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- This is a very popular tool, often used at career centers and throughout many workplaces and management development programs. It helps you learn about your different preferences–strengths, noting possible areas for development, and how to more effectively relate to co-workers and your boss. There is a fee associated with the assessment.
Doing Your Homework: Career Research
Because there are not a lot of books on careers in international development, environment, GIS, and the public sector in general, the responsibility really rests with you to do research into your particular sector of interest.
There are different ways to do career research, and certainly you will want to begin by reading different websites and periodicals. But you'lll also want to start talking to practitioners in the field. This strategy is called Informational Interviewing.
Informational Interviewing is a form of networking that has specifically developed around gaining career advice and information. It is particularly helpful in the NGO and government communities, where so much information is received in a more informal way about job and internship opportunities.
It is one of the best ways to conduct career research and develop your web of contacts at the same time.
One of the most important things about informational interviewing is to be prepared before you contact someone, and to contact them in a professional way with a specific request.
Your informational interviewing should begin during your first year. Think about people you know in your field, including faculty, former employers, guest speakers who come to IDCE, and anyone else in your network. It is usually a best practice to start with the people who know you best and already believe in your abilities. Preparing for informational interviews is critical.