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Occupational Exploration

Occupational exploration is a way to learn about jobs and careers.  For a given job, you can find information such as:

  • Training and education needed
  • Earnings
  • Expected job prospects
  • What workers do on the job
  • Working conditions

Now that you know more about your skills, interests, and values, occupational exploration can help you match those characteristics to specific occupations.  Occupational exploration can also help you identify skills that you may want to improve.

There are many ways to find information about occupations.  These include:

  • Websites
  • Occupational profiles
  • Videos
  • Informational interviews
  • Career fairs

In this activity you will use the internet to research occupations in two ways:

  • Websites
  • Online videos

To help you keep track of the occupational information you find through your research, download the Occupational Exploration Worksheet

Finding Occupational Information Online

Websites

To learn more about the three occupations you identified using the O*Net® Interest Profiler™, there are several online resources to help you.  First, download the Occupational Exploration Worksheet and print out three copies.  Use the worksheets to guide you as you gather information about your three occupations.

Here are some websites that are useful for researching occupations:

Occupational Outlook Handbook  
A classic reference about occupations from A to Z. Includes a description of individual occupations along with the training and education needed for each one.  In the center of the main Occupational Outlook Handbook page, click on a letter of the alphabet to find the occupation you’re looking for.
www.bls.gov/OCO

America’s Career InfoNet 
The official site for One Stop Career Centers throughout the United States. These centers have been set up to help people get information on different careers, education opportunities, and various other opportunities.  On the left-hand side of the home page, click on “Occupation Information” to start searching.
www.acinet.org

Career Zone  
New York State’s website for career exploration.  Although this is a New York State website, the occupational information shared here is generic and presented in an easy-to-use manner.  At the top of the page, click on the bubble titled “Search” and follow the directions.
www.nycareerzone.org

Massachusetts Career Information System  
Massachusetts’ state website for career information.  It offers occupational information, as well as information about degrees offered by colleges and universities in Massachusetts and across the U.S. There is also a wide variety of financial aid resources.  On the home page, click on either the “Adult” or “High School” user on the left side. On the next page, mid-way down, use the drop-down menu to highlight a town in Massachusetts, then enter its zip code, and indicate what type of user you are.  On the next page, click on “Occupations” on the left-hand side.
masscis.intocareers.org

Online Videos

Watching someone going about the daily tasks of a job can be very informative and provide information that you might not get by simply reading about an occupation.  There are many videos of different occupations that you can view on the internet for free. 

To help you think about whether an occupation is a good match for your skills, interests, and values, download the worksheet Using Videos to Learn About Occupations and print out three copies.  Use the worksheets to record what you observe when you watch videos about the three occupations you have chosen.

Three of the websites described above include videos about individual occupations.  The videos are found within the occupational descriptions on each website. Once again, here are links to the three websites with videos:

America’s Career InfoNet 
www.acinet.org

Career Zone 
www.nycareerzone.org

Massachusetts Career Information System 
masscis.intocareers.org

Information for Ex-Offenders and People Who are Incarcerated

People with certain criminal history records may not be able to study or work in certain fields, especially heath care, finance, or fields that involve working with children.  This depends on your record.  For example, if you have drug offenses on your record, you probably won’t be accepted into a pharmacy school.  If you have been convicted of theft, financial institutions such as banks may be less likely to hire you.  Colleges also research criminal backgrounds before accepting students.  For this reason, it is important to be honest, and find out about your options before spending money and time taking classes to prepare for a particular job.

On the other hand, don’t assume that you won’t be able to study or work in the field you want. Even if you had problems when you tried to get a job in the past, most people with criminal history records are still eligible for financial aid and can get into college.  If your record contains only misdemeanors, or if your offenses are from a long time ago and you have had no problems since then, you may not have difficulties.  And, even if a criminal record might prevent you from getting some jobs, earning a college degree is one of the best ways to give yourself options to work in other jobs.

Here are some ways to learn about how your criminal history may affect your choice of study:

  • Talk to the director of the program at the school you are thinking about.
  • Attend a college information session and speak privately with the presenter afterwards about your own criminal history record, and find out if you can be accepted into that program.

If you are looking for work, remember that some employers can legally choose not to hire a person with a particular criminal history, for a certain amount of time after the conviction.  This can be a good situation for you if your offenses are old enough, or if the employer likes you and needs your skills.  Here are some important steps to take before you start your job search:

  • Educate yourself about what exactly appears on your criminal record (see below).
  • Know how to present your record in the best way during an interview
  • Make a folder with letters from probation officers, clergy, counselors, treatment professionals, or anyone (except a relative) whose opinion would be respected.  Ask these people to write about why they think you won’t commit a crime again.  Ask them to explain that you are now working hard and trying to be a valuable member of society.

How To Get Your Criminal Record, Interpret It, and Clear It Up

It is very important to get a copy of your criminal record so you can see what schools and employers may be able to learn about you, if they have permission to look at your records.  Most states have an office where they keep criminal records.  To find these offices, go to the National HIRE website and look in the Resources and Assistance section:

National HIRE
The National Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment Network is both a national clearinghouse for information and an advocate for policy change. Click on your state to find agencies and organizations that may be of assistance in providing job-related and legal services, answering questions arising from having a criminal record, or offering referrals to other useful organizations.
www.hirenetwork.org/resource.html

Ask at the state criminal records office if they have all of your records. You may need to go to the individual agency that put the items on your record: the local police, the county jail or house of corrections, or the parole board for example.  You may have to pay to get a copy of your records.  The records have codes that can be difficult to understand, so be sure to ask what they mean.

Another reason it is important to see your records is that there are often mistakes.  There may be inconsistent or untrue items, and perhaps crimes you were acquitted of or that were dismissed, or other special situations.  You may be able to have some items sealed (most people won’t see it on your record because it is old or the case ended in a good way for you), or expunged (removed).  Some crimes, such as sexual assault, may stay on your report for life.

If you committed a felony and went to state prison, you may be able to get a pardon or a certificate of rehabilitation so you can get back rights and privileges you have lost.  You may need help from a lawyer to do these things.  You can look on the NationalHIRE website, www.hirenetwork.org/resource.html (described above), to find one. Also, some training programs will help you with this process for free.  For example, STRIVE is a organization with affiliates in 18 U.S. locations offering services such as training, job placement, and career advancement to ex-offenders and others.  For more information, visit their website at www.strivenational.org.