What is career exploration?

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What is career exploration?

Once you’ve decided on the types of courses you are interested in, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what you’ll be letting yourself in for. You might hear people talking a lot about 'work experience', but this post is all about 'career exploration'. Career exploration simply means the many ways that you can explore and find out more about the career or subject area that you are interested in. A lot of the vocational courses (things like Law, Medicine, and Nursing etc.) will be looking for you to have specific work experience and knowledge of the career you’re likely to enter after you finish your courses. However, these courses as well as most others courses are also interested in other ways that you have found out more about what it is like to be a student on that course and the types of careers you may enter after. So, even if you are not thinking about a vocational course this applies to you too!

Universities and colleges are keen to see this kind of career exploration in your personal statement and it’s a good idea to start doing it now so you’re well prepared for your application in S6.

Why do it?

  • Try before you buy - have a go to see if you actually enjoy it. (Disclaimer: you might realise through this process that the career / subject area isn't for you. Don't be disheartened! That is totally ok too, and will help you to think about where your interests lie.)
  • It's required for certain courses.
  • You can develop skills and knowledge.
  • Could help you get a job or further experience later on.

Three parts of career exploration:

  • Work experience.
  • Research into careers linked to the university/college course.
  • Showing personal interest/motivation.

Have a look at the visual below which has extra information about these three different parts (either hover your mouse over each part or tap on the circles):


The visual below has some useful links to help you find out more about courses with specific requirements for career exploration or work experience:


Helpful links:

  • Reach Edinburgh for students interested in Law, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.
  • ACES (Access to Creative Education in Scotland) for students interested in art and design based courses.

Key things to remember:

1. All career exploration is helpful even if you don't end up taking that route. You're still gaining important skills and knowledge along the way which you can use in your application.

2. Some courses require a certain amount of career exploration or work experience. Make sure you check and know what you need to achieve by the time you apply.

3. It's not all about hands-on experience; doing online research and meeting with people involved with that career or subject area can give you really meaningful insights too.