Step 1: Explore

StrengthsQuest and Coaching

As part of our Sophomore Success Program, every student gets the chance to learn more about themselves through the free personality and trait assessment, StrengthsQuest. This 25-35 minute online test allows you to discover your top 5 traits or strengths. Everyone has strengths that relate to our future careers, and by focusing on those strengths, we learn to understand ourselves better and excel at the things we do best. Out staff will walk you through the assessment, and especially through what these insights mean for you. 

Email Todd Nolan to find out more information on the Sophomore Success Program, or to take a StrengthsQuest assessment and discuss with a faculty coach. 

Discover New Occupations

The biggest reason that college students do not know what they want to do for a living is because they do not know what occupations are "out there." Spend some time becoming familiar with various fields of employment you could enter. There are three main tools in your belt to research job titles.

  1. The Occupational Information Network, or O*Net, is your primary resource for finding different job titles within an occupation. Here you can search for jobs based on your interests, your skills, your abilities, and even categories like work values and activities.

  2. The Occupational Outlook Handbook provides you with brief explanations on job duties, education requirements, salaries, occupation growth rate, and other important factors in evaluating careers. This is a good overview of broad groups of jobs all at once.

  3. The CareerOneStop provides you with a detailed overview of occupation types, as well as similar titles, career videos, state and national trends, and training. It also provides access to many other resources around the web for you to read. You can compare different occupations as well as find information on

Appointments are available to discuss job titles, and we provide you with a number of personal exercises to help brainstorm possible career options.

Write a Resume

The resume is the most commonly understood and the most basic component of career exploration. It is the document which describes your skills and experiences to a potential employer. You will constantly be updating it as you gain new experiences and skills, and you will also revise it for every new position to which you apply. This makes the resume the ultimate in career exploration.

The resume should be brief and precise, and highlight the important parts of your history. Add your most recent educational experience, any prior work experience, relevant volunteer projects or community service, extracurricular activities, internships, awards, special projects, transferable skills, and hobbies or interests.

Next, take your resume from good to great.

  1. We have partnered with Resume Targets to provide you with hundreds of resume templates and suggestions. Access the Ave Maria portal here: Ave Maria University's Resume Target Templates

  2. Use our Resume Guide to give you general advice, lists of action verbs, etc.

  3. Refer to our Resume Grading Rubric to check your own resume.

  4. Set up an appointment with the Career Office to get personalized feedback on your resume.

Once your resume is completed, use it! A summer internship would be an ideal opportunity, and ideally you should target a company that gets you close to the type of work you have considered. That is the hallmark of the next step.