Navigating Your Major and Career Journey: The Importance of Understanding Your Values

When exploring careers, many consider whether an occupation will be personally fulfilling to them or not. This personal fulfillment can come in many different forms. For example, some folks are most satisfied by helping others, while others find joy in tangible achievements. These are known as career values—the factors that guide and fulfill us throughout our career journey.

There is a distinct difference between career goals and career values. Career goals can be specific ways that one defines success in their career. For example, a career goal could be, “I want to work at a non-profit,” or, “I will become a neuropsychologist.” On the other hand, a career value is a principle that one strives to live in accordance with. A few career values include stability, wealth, leadership, and ethics. There are endless other career values one could hold, and none are right or wrong. Values are important to explore, as when we live/work in accordance to our values, we tend to experience more satisfaction than when we work towards just goals.

The resource, Think2Perform values exercise, comprises a list of 51 different values. The activity aims to have users sort these values step-by-step and eventually remain with their 5 most important values. Once these top 5 values are identified, it will be important to consider how different occupations align or misalign with them. For instance, a top value of “service” would align with occupations where a service is being provided (e.g., restaurant owner, social worker). This value may be misaligned with careers where (human) service is not being directly provided (e.g., laboratory technician, data entry clerk). For students who are considering their career options, exploring their values can be very helpful in deciding what occupations will bring fulfillment.

Resource Link: Think2Perform Values Exercise

By Holly Schultz
Holly Schultz