Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

See what jobs are out there for you

Keeping track

edit You are going to be collecting a lot of information. Avoid getting overwhelmed by keeping notes where you can find them again. If you have to start over again every time you sit down to research, you’ll never get anywhere! Use this template to take notes: Career research template

Now it’s time to get familiar with some possible jobs. Take the list you made in the last step, and for each job, ask three questions:

  1. What are the daily activities?
  2. Will there be job openings?
  3. What will it pay?

Finding accurate information is a major challenge for career planners. That’s why you’ll use a couple of different sources.

The more effectively you research, the more likely you are to end up in a job that you like!

1. Research online


First, get the basic facts about a job by researching online. Reliable sources for job information:


Listening to professionals on the job will give you a sense of what the work might be like.

  • CandidCareer has videos with real people describing what their jobs are like.
Lingo to watch for
Entry-level salary

It’s tempting to look at the top range of salaries for your future job. But the truth is that most people don’t start at those levels. Realistically, it takes years of experience to work up to those incomes. Accept the fact that, at first, you’ll be making toward the lower range of your future income.

Employment outlook

This is the potential growth for an occupation. Is the demand for this job growing? It may also be called “job outlook” or “job prospects”.

2. Research in person

It might sound daunting to reach out to professionals and ask questions, but trust us – there is no substitute for talking one-on-one with someone who actually has the job. This is called “Informational Interviewing” and it’s not as hard as it sounds!

Finding people to interview

Don’t be too intimidated – most people enjoy sharing their professional experiences.

Who do I ask?
  • People in your life: Ask friends, classmates, family: do you know someone in the field?
  • PCC Instructors: Ask teachers in the field to recommend colleagues or past students.
  • Business websites: Find employee profiles on websites and contact them directly.
  • LinkedIn, professional associations: Oregon CIS lists associations for every occupation.
What do I say?

Here is a script to use when contacting companies.

Hello, my name is blank____________________. I am a student at Portland Community College, and I’m doing career research for a class. I’m really interested in the field of blank__________________, and would like to do an informational interview with someone at your company. Could you suggest someone who might be willing to give me 15 or 20 minutes?

Set up your informational interview
  1. Prepare questions. Write your own, or use these sample questions. You’re trying to get a sense of what the job is like.
  2. Contact your interviewee. Ask to meet in person or over the phone for 30 minutes, tops. Emphasize that you are looking for information – not asking for a job.
  3. Go to the interview. Be on time, dress appropriately, ask your most important question first, and take notes.
  4. Send a thank you note. Don’t skip this step – this person may turn into a valuable contact!

3. Research at PCC

PCC coursework
  • Take career exploration classes, like CG 130 – Today’s Careers
  • Attend Department Information Sessions to learn more about options at PCC

Adding to your list is OK

List titled Results. Some items are crossed off. 1 crossed off Music Teacher. 2 Teacher. 3 Art Director. 4 crossed off Graphic Designer. 5 Microbiologist. 6 Park Ranger. 7 crossed off Sketch Artist. 8 Writer. 9 Architect. 10 Drafter. 11 crossed off Floral Design. 12 Law Clerk. 13 Speech Pathologist. 14 crossed off Tattoo Artist. 15 Urban Planner.As you research and talk to people, you will discover job titles you didn’t know existed. If you think one might be a match for you, add it to your list! Then research it using the steps above.

Make your shortlist

Make a “shortlist” of the top ten occupations that appeal to you most. Cross off careers where you don’t like the daily activities, or where you won’t earn enough to support yourself. Try to keep occupations on your list that are growing in the area you want to live.