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WGU CAREER & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Resource Library

 

Career Goal


 

Research shows that choosing a career aligned with your interests, personality, and values results in greater career well-being and happiness. Milestone 1 guides you through self-reflection and assessment to align your personal attributes with occupations. Whether you’re just beginning your career, transitioning to a new field, or seeking professional growth, the tools and resources below will empower you to create a well-informed career goal that meets your needs. 

Knowing what is most important to you is an essential first step in making informed career decisions. Clarify your career values by completing PART 1 in the “Worksheet” tab on the Self-Assessment & Career Pathways Worksheet.

Save a copy of your Self-Assessment & Career Pathways Worksheet for future reference.

People are more likely to succeed in careers that match their personality. WGU’s Career Coach Assessment is based on John Holland’s Theory of Career Choice, which categorizes people and work environments into 6 personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (RIASEC). After completing the assessment, you’ll be able to identify your top 3 types and matching occupations.

  • Sign up for WGU Career Coach with your WGU email address by clicking here.

  • Take the Career Coach Detailed Assessment (60-Question). 

  • Read about your “top three traits” from your assessment results.  

  • Briefly review your “top career matches” from your assessment results in Career Coach. Choose 1-3 occupations to research in greater depth. Save these to your profile in Career Coach by clicking the “Save” button next to the occupation title.
  • Return to the “Worksheet” tab in your Self-Assessment & Career Pathways Worksheet. Complete PART 2 by collecting research findings for your chosen occupations and evaluating how closely each occupation matches the career values you identified earlier.  

Now that you’ve discovered more about yourself and potential career paths, it’s time to set a SMART Career Goal. A career goal provides clear direction and keeps you motivated, ensuring your educational and professional pursuits align with your dreams. SMART goals help you understand why your goal matters and outline a plan for success. 

Studies indicate that writing down goals increases your chances of achieving them. Use the appropriate document below to craft a SMART Career Goal that combines knowledge gained from your assessment(s), research, and occupational evaluation:

Save a copy of your Career SMART Goal Worksheet as a continual reminder of your professional aspirations. 

 

Congratulations on completing Milestone 1! Our career advisors are here to support you along your professional journey. Whether you want to chat about this milestone or need assistance with your career path, please feel encouraged to reach out. Contact us at careers@wgu.edu or read our  FAQs.

Consider these optional activities to further enrich your career exploration. 

*To access LinkedIn Learning videos, please first log in with your WGU credentials.

  • Engage in Career Conversations (Informational Interviews): Gain more insight by arranging brief career conversations with professionals in the careers that interest you. 
    • Watch this *video (LinkedIn Learning, 3m 4s) to learn more about informational interviews. 
    • Review informational interview best practices and strategies by clicking here
    • Find professionals with industry experience through WGU’s LinkedIn Alumni Tool, Handshake, friends/family, colleagues, former mentors/teachers, and even course instructors.  
    • Be sure to ask Smart Informational Interview Questions during these conversations and take notes.
    • Remember to *follow up (LinkedIn Learning, 2m 15s) after your conversation.
  • Explore More Career Options: Find additional occupations related to your major by viewing CPD’s Career Guides.

  • Enhance Your Self-Awareness: Learn more about your personal attributes by completing extra self-assessments.  

  • Dive Deeper into Career Data: In addition to using Career Coach, explore detailed occupational data on O*NET (U.S. Department of Labor) or the Occupational Outlook Handbook (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Career Identity


 

WGU is here to support you wherever you are in your career journey. We have highlighted specific resources below that learners have found valuable related to their career stage and job search. Whether you are a career starter, changer, or advancer, Career & Professional Development is here to support you with your next steps!

Career Starter

A career starter is just what it sounds like – someone who is looking to get started in their target career. Perhaps you’ve held jobs before, but they have been unrelated to your career goals or you’ve been out of the workforce for many years. Or perhaps you’re looking for your first professional experience. These resources are a great place to start.

Identify Your Career GoalDefining a clear career goal that aligns with your personal attributes and life needs will give purpose and direction to your professional journey. Visit the Career Goal Page for step-by-step guidance on exploring career options that match your interests, personality, and needs, and create a well-informed career goal.

Develop a Career Action Plan. Creating a well-defined plan is essential for achieving your career goal. Think of your career plan as a roadmap, outlining clear directions to reach your goal. Explore our Career Action Plan Resources for step-by-step guidance on how to identify the skills required for your desired career and develop a plan to bridge any gaps, preparing yourself to accomplish your goal.

Network. Use WGU Handshake to research employers and connect with fellow WGU students and alumni. Networking is simply establishing and leveraging relationships through conversations with people who are and will become your friends and community of colleagues as you go through your career. Developing your network is easy because you know more people than you think you know. Start developing your network today by exploring our Networking Resources.

 

Career Changer

If you have recent experience but are looking to make a major change to your job title or industry, you’re a career changer. For example, maybe you’re an experienced Software Engineer who’s ready to start a new chapter by becoming a Registered Nurse. Take a look at these resources for help in navigating this transition.

Clarify Your Career Action Plan. Identify the skills, knowledge, and qualifications required for your new career goal and create a step-by-step action plan to fill your gaps, outlining a clear path to achieving your goal.

Grow Your Network. Your network can make a significant impact on helping you take those next steps in your career. Check out these networking resources to continue to expand and leverage your network. 

Pursue Professional Development. Whether you are currently employed in the position you desire or are searching for a new position, it never hurts to keep yourself informed, educated, and up-to-date in your professional realm. Check out these Professional Development Resources.

Career Advancer

Career advancers are in their target career path and industry and are looking for opportunities to grow professionally and move up. Perhaps you’ve been a Marketing Coordinator for a few years and are looking to advance to a Marketing Manager role. Utilize these resources to plan the next steps towards attaining your professional goals. 

Prepare for Job Search. Check out these job search resources to develop strong marketing materials, implement strategic job search strategies, leverage your network, and ace that upcoming interview.

Grow Your Network. Your network can make a significant impact on helping you take those next steps in your career. Check out these networking resources to continue to expand and leverage your network. 

Pursue Professional Development. Whether you are currently employed in the position you desire or are searching for a new position, it never hurts to keep yourself informed, educated, and up-to-date in your professional realm. Check out these Professional Development Resources.

Self-assessment


 

"It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy."- Lucille Ball

The first step in deciding on a career or job is to think about who you are.  The process of self-assessment is one in which you attempt to objectively identify your values, personality, interests, and abilities. Utilize the resources below to assist in identifying potential career options that are a good fit for you.

O*NET Interest Profiler
O*NET has designed a set of self-directed career exploration/assessment tools to help individuals consider and plan career options, preparation, and transitions more effectively. 

CareerOneStop Skills Profiler
Sponsored by United States Department of Labor, the Skills Profiler helps you create a list of your skills and match them to job types that need those skills.

Psychometric Tests
Companies can use these tests (also known as Aptitude Tests) to try and predict which applicants might be the most successful at a particular position. This complete guide will help you better understand what psychometric tests are, how they are used, and how to successfully complete them.

AssessmentDay.Com
Review free up-to-date advice, tips, tutorial videos, and practice tests to help you prepare for the psychometric tests that may be a part of the application process.

HIGH5 Test
This assessment will help you identify your top strengths and how to maximize them in your profession, academics and personal life. Access to basic results for free.

16 Personalities Test
Similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), this assessment can help you identify personality preferences as they relate to your career.

123 Test
What career best fits your personality? This free career aptitude test can give you insight into your career personality. 

Agile Work Profiler
This tool will help you discover your work-related strengths and interests, and how they apply to many different careers.

Career Values Assessment
The Values Test can help you learn more about your underlying work needs and motivations, and can help you decide what is important to you in a job.

Career Guides


 

We often have students contact us with questions relating to “what can I do with a degree in (insert degree name)?” We have assembled the following resources to help WGU students explore the career paths commonly associated with their respective degree.

The career guides provided offer information on common career areas that students enter with this degree. Please note that the areas and information are representative of typical career paths associated with each major and are not an exhaustive list.

Occupational Research Tools

The Occupational Network (O*NET) surfaces popular job titles and gives comprehensive information on what the job title entails.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Industry Reports
These reports display a ‘snapshot’ of national data by industry and many include state, county, and metropolitan area data.

Volunteer and Internship Opportunities
Look for ways to get involved in the field through volunteer opportunities and internships.

Tech Career Paths
Find the next step in your career using TechPoint's Jobs in Tech and the Career Development by Dice.

Informational Interviews
Set up informational interviews or shadowing experiences with professionals in careers you are considering.

Speak with a Career & Professional Development Advisor
Set up a time to speak with a Career & Professional Development Advisor.

DISCLAIMER: Any information, materials, personal opinions, or endorsements of products or services appearing on external sites are not controlled, endorsed, or sponsored by Western Governors University.

Occupational and Industry Research


 

Gathering information about different occupations will help you discover whether a particular career is right for you. Using your self-assessment results as your guide, take time to learn about a variety of occupations including the job duties, employment outlook, salaries, and educational and training requirements associated with each occupation. 

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop is your source for career exploration, training & jobs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

CareerOneStop Videos

Explore a collection of videos on hundreds of different careers. Videos include career details such as tasks, work settings, and education needed.

O*NET Online

O*NET offers detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development and HR professionals, students, researchers, and more!

Occupational Research Handout

Utilize this handout to assist you in compiling occupational and industry information.

Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)

Find career information on duties, education and training, pay, and outlook for hundreds of occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Career Plan


 

In Milestone 2, you’ll chart a clear path to your SMART career goal by creating a career plan. Follow the steps below to determine the knowledge, skills, and experience needed for your desired career. Then, build an action plan using our resources to address any gaps in your qualifications and achieve your career goal.

*To access LinkedIn Learning videos, please first log in with your WGU credentials.

This initial step lays the groundwork for your career action plan, uncovering where you might need to grow to achieve your career goal. 

  • Watch these two videos to learn how to do a gap analysis: *Identify employer needs (LinkedIn Learning, 3m, 21s) and *Identify your gaps (LinkedIn Learning, 2m, 39s). Use the Gap Analysis Worksheet at the link below instead of the one mentioned in the videos. 

  • Download and complete the Gap Analysis Worksheet to research your career goal, identify your skill/qualification gaps, and brainstorm ways to fill your gaps. To maximize the benefits of this worksheet, refer to the example tab for guidance and view the Action to Close Gap Resource Guide, linked in Step 3 of the worksheet. 

Save a copy of your Gap Analysis Worksheet for future reference.

*To access Percipio videos, please first log in with your WGU credentials

Watch these two videos to learn how to craft an effective career action plan to achieve your career goal:

After identifying your gaps and actions to close them, it’s time to create a career plan! In this step, you’ll work backward from your goal, defining the specific action steps you’ll take to address your gaps and ultimately accomplish your career goal.

Save a copy of your Career Action Plan to keep you focused and motivated as you work toward achieving your goal.  

 

Great work completing Milestone 2! Your career plan provides a clear path to accomplishing your SMART career goal. Remember to revisit it regularly to celebrate your progress and make adjustments as needed. If you’d like more support or have additional questions about this milestone, our career advisors are available to assist you. 

Contact us at careers@wgu.edu or read our FAQs.

Consider these optional activities to further enrich your career planning. 

  • Learn from Others: Research the career steps of professionals in your desired occupation/field to guide your career strategy. What kind of experience do they have? What is their educational background? Do they have any industry certifications? What are some of their top skills?
    • Use the LinkedIn Alumni Tool to find WGU graduates from your degree program and investigate their profiles to explore their career history.  

Graduate School


 

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -Dr. Suess

Are you considering graduate school upon completion of your WGU degree? For many professions, graduate school is required or strongly preferred. Graduate school can be a way to build your credentials or earn more money. Or perhaps you are a life-long learner and want to continue your education by earning a master’s or doctorate degree. Regardless of your motivation for attending graduate school, you will want to start planning so that you have a strong application and meet all deadlines. The process, application materials, and deadlines for graduate programs vary, so be sure to check the website of the university and department you are interested in for specific deadlines and requirements.

How do I order an official transcript?

Download the Career Planning Guide for for clearly defined steps on how to successfully create a career plan including your long-term and short-term career goals. To access LinkedIn Learning videos, please first login with your WGU credentials.

  1. Examine and identify your career goal.
  2. Set SMART goals.
  3. Conduct a gap analysis to determine short term goals and action steps.
  4. Build your plan. Use page 4 of the Career Planning Guide to develop a strong plan moving forward.

As you complete the activities described in the guide, a Career Advisor is available to answer questions, provide clarification, and offer support.

To request an appointment: Send your questions, areas for clarification and a copy of your Career Planning Guide (complete with your own notes and progress) to careers@wgu.edu and a career advisor will be in touch shortly after your email is received. We look forward to working with you!

Questions regarding transcripts should be directed to records@wgu.edu.

Note: Official transcripts will not be released to anyone whose financial obligations are not met. 

I’m applying to another university for a graduate or terminal degree program. What should I expect? Will they accept my WGU education?

Please note that each university has its own process and admission requirements for graduate school or terminal degree program. Candidates for graduate school are examined in different areas including the strength of their application/essay, letters of recommendation, and graduate school test scores. Additionally, some schools require applicants to have experience in the field, or to have a particular GRE score or GMAT score, while others require a combination of both. Generally, most schools require that a student have graduated from an accredited program. Since WGU (or its individual programs or colleges) is regionally, CAEP, CCNE*, ACBSP, and CAHIIM accredited, the university satisfies the requirement of an accredited program. Our WGU graduates have been accepted into graduate school programs by many traditional universities.

*The baccalaureate degree programs in nursing, master's degree programs in nursing, and post-graduate APRN certificate programs at WGU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).

Graduate School Resources

Graduate Admissions Exams

Many graduate schools require admissions tests (e.g., GRE, GMAT, LSAT). Visit the website for the university and graduate program you are interested in to find out more. Be aware that there are often deadlines for taking these exams. 

Paying for Graduate School

As you consider graduate programs, you will also want to think about how you are going to fund your graduate education. Fellowships, research and teaching assistantships, and other forms of grants, scholarships, and financial aid are often available. To find out what types of funding are available, see the website of the university and graduate program you are interested in. Be aware that there are often additional application materials and deadlines required for fellowships and assistantships. 

  • studentaid.gov - Helpful information on scholarships, fellowships, and financial aid

Gaining Experience


 

In Milestone 3, you’ll start turning your career dreams into reality.  Experiential learning (EL), also called “learning by doing,” includes activities like internships, micro-internships, simulations, volunteering, case studies, clinical work, and more. These experiences enable you to acquire real-life experience, apply your skills and knowledge, make professional connections, and boost your employability.

This milestone requires gaining experience, so you’ll likely complete it in stages as you move through your program. Follow the steps below to get started! 

In this step, you’ll identify the specific skills and experience you hope to gain. This will help you pinpoint opportunities tailored to your needs and career goal.   

  • Determine how experiential learning may be included in your academic program. Examples of experiential learning you may see in your coursework include capstone projects, clinical/field experience, industry projects, case studies, and simulations.
    • You can learn more about your program’s offerings by reviewing course descriptions and program guides on your degree page and/or talking with your program mentor/faculty. 

By completing experiential learning, you’ve further prepared yourself to reach your career goal. Demonstrate your value to potential employers and your professional network by clearly identifying and showcasing your skills and accomplishments. 

 

Congratulations on completing Milestone 3! If you’d like more support with experiential learning or have additional questions about this milestone, our career advisors are available to assist you. 

Contact us at careers@wgu.edu or read our FAQs.  

Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)

WGU Career & Professional Development is committed to assisting students in exploring career and job opportunities. If you are interested in our assistance, please contact us. Our Career Advisors are looking forward to working with you in pursuing your career endeavors! If you have any further questions or concerns regarding WRP, please contact a WRP School Coordinator:

What is WRP?

The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP), coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Defense, is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and select private-sector employers with highly motivated college students, graduate students, and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to demonstrate their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs. 

Who can participate in WRP?

Participation is open to any students or recent graduates with disabilities at all levels and majors, and degree programs. Veterans with disabilities are especially urged to apply. To participate in WRP, applicants must:

  • have a disability and be eligible under the Schedule A hiring authority
  • be a United States citizen
  • be currently enrolled in a degree program on a full-time basis OR have graduated with a degree on or after April 1, 2020. 

What is the result of completing WRP?

Candidates who successfully complete the program will have their application information included in a database for federal agencies to access. The WRP database is available to all federal agencies to find qualified candidates. Candidates in the database will then potentially be contacted for federal and private sector positions without having to apply directly to positions. 

I qualify for WRP and am interested in participating! Where do I begin?

It is required that all candidates complete their application by October 16th, 2023 11:59 PM PST. Therefore, we encourage candidates to act quickly and complete their WRP application as soon as possible. To submit your WRP application, please complete the following steps:

  1. Register by October 12, 2023. Initiate the WRP application by self-registering at wrp.gov and clicking on the student registration button.  Please be aware that your registration must be complete and approved before you can continue in the application process. When registering, make sure to select Western Governors University as your school. A staff member from WGU Career & Professional Development will approve registrations daily. Student registration opens August 21, 2023.
  2. Complete the WRP Application by October 16, 2023. Once your registration is approved, you will receive an email request from info@wrp.gov to change your password and complete the online application.  Candidates are guided through entering contact and academic information, uploading resumes and unofficial transcripts, and all other specifics.  

What can I expect from participating in WRP?

Required:

  1. Register by October 12, 2023.
  2. Complete the WRP Application by October 16, 2023.
  3. Final candidates will be submitted to the WRP Database. Candidates who successfully complete all the above steps will have their information submitted to the WRP database which will be released to employers in mid-December. Federal employers may then access the database to contact prospective candidates for potential interviews.

Optional (limited to the first 100 participants): 

  1. Once you have completed your application, a WRP School Coordinator will reach out via your WGU email within 5 business days with information regarding how to schedule your optional informational interview with a WRP Recruiter. 
  2. Once you complete this process, you will be contacted via your WGU email in late October or early November to schedule your informational interview with a WRP Recruiter. 

What employers are registered with WRP?

Please visit WRP's list of WRP federal employer agencies that registered in 2020 to get an idea of program participants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please visit WRP's Frequently Asked Questions and Public Resources for additional information.

Are you currently employed? If so, look for opportunities to utilize what you are learning in your WGU degree program to help your organization. Meet with your manager and explore new projects, duties, or tasks that would benefit you both! 

You are required to submit an unofficial transcript.

To access and download your unofficial WGU transcript, go to the Student Services section on the Student Support Tab of the student portal. Click on Records in the left side navigation and click the Download an Unofficial Transcript link.

You will be required to submit a resume.

If you need assistance with your resume please visit the WGU Resume section.

When completing the application, you will be asked to enter your GPA.

This is a required field. Because WGU does not calculate a GPA, candidates will enter “0” in the GPA field. More information about WGU’s grading policies can be found in the student handbook including a downloadable Grading Explanation Letter.

Please be advised that candidates are not required to self-disclose any information regarding their disability.

If you have questions about whether your condition qualifies as a disability, please contact WGU’s Student Accessibility Services at 1-877-435-7948 Ext. 5922 for further assistance. Candidates will be required during the process to obtain Schedule A hiring authority documentation.

Requesting an accommodation.

We would like to ensure that all of the candidates have whatever they require to have a successful interview experience. If you have questions about accommodations, please contact: WGU’s Student Accessibility Services at 1-877-435-7948 Ext. 5922 for further assistance.

Informational Interviews


 

Informational interviewing is a powerful (and underutilized) career exploration and networking tool that can jump start your career. In an informational interview, you are seeking leads and information regarding an industry, a career path or an employer by talking to people you know or who have been referred to you.

To access LinkedIn Learning videos, please first login with your WGU credentials:

  1. Land the Informational Interview*
  2. Prepare for an Informational Interview*
  3. Use this Outreach Email template to request Informational Interviews through LinkedIn  

  1. Know the Dos & Don’ts  (LinkedIn Learning video, 3m 20s)*
  2. Impress in an Informational Interview*
  3. Ask Smart Informational Interview Questions and make sure to take notes on the information gathered!
  4. For additional support, watch this workshop on the Power of Informational Interviewing.

As you complete the activities described above, a career advisor is available to answer questions, provide clarification, and offer support. Request an appointment by sending your questions and areas for clarification to careers@wgu.edu and a career advisor will be in touch shortly after your email is received.

Need interview practice? Check out Big Interview!

1. Go to wgu.biginterview.com

2. In the top right corner of the homepage, locate and click on the "Login" button.

3. Sign in using your WGU credentials, including your username and password.

4. Once logged in, you will be directed to the main dashboard. Here, you have several options for exploring various interview resources.

Explore the Big Interview Student Guide for detailed assistance in navigating and utilizing Big Interview with step-by-step instructions.

Career Wellness


 

Career planning is a lifelong process that requires ongoing reflection. Milestone 7 provides an opportunity to assess your career wellness, determining if your current job aligns with your aspirations. You’ll complete a career wellness check to pinpoint areas that may need attention, which will help you decide on your next career goal. In today's evolving job market, ongoing professional development is essential for maintaining relevance and value. Investing in your growth now may encourage sustained success, fulfillment, and resilience throughout your career journey. 

Download and complete the Career Wellness Assessment below to discover which wellness dimensions are thriving for you and which areas may require attention. Your results will help inform your next career goal: 

After completing a career wellness check, take time to reflect on your results and identify possible next steps to enhance or maintain your career wellness. 

Whether seeking to improve your current role, pursue advancement, find a new job, or embark on a new career path, it’s helpful to clarify your future professional aspirations. If your assessment results revealed strong career wellness, it can still be beneficial to reflect on what you can do to sustain your wellness. 

  • When you’re ready to take action, create your next career goal by reviewing CPD’s Career Goal resources. For instance, you might set a goal to advance your skills, seek a promotion at your current company, obtain a new position, or make a career change. 

 

Congratulations on finishing Milestone 7! Regularly checking in on your career wellness will give you a clear picture of your professional satisfaction and resilience. This awareness empowers you to make thoughtful decisions about your career. If you’d like assistance completing a career wellness check or determining your next steps, our career advisors are here to support you.

Contact us at careers@wgu.edu or read our FAQs.