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Prototype & Test Careers


What it is: This phase is about choosing 3-5 careers that you are most interested in, sketching a timeline, and developing questions that would help you determine if you want to continue pursuing the career path or cross it off the list.


You might have brainstormed 25 different career options in the brainstorming phase, but researching all of them is too overwhelming.


In order to prototype:

  1. Group and categorize. Find themes in your brainstorming list.

  2. Choose 3-5. If 25 is too many, 1-2 is too few. Make sure to choose from different categories.

  3. Sketch a timeline. You can use this prototype worksheet to get started or write on a piece of paper. You probably won’t know all of the steps to get into that career. The point of drawing the timeline is to identify what you don’t know.

  4. Write questions. You will write down all of the questions you have to help you figure out if you’d like to pursue the career or not. Generally, they fall into two categories:

    1. How do I get into this career?

    2. Would I like this career?


Example of a prototype

(click to view)

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What it is: This phase is about learning more and experiencing the career path in some way to gain insight on the questions you developed in the prototyping phase and help you reflect if you’d like to continue to pursue the path.


After you test/learn about a career, make sure to reflect on your reactions to what you learned.

  • What did you like?

  • What did you dislike?

  • Do you have new questions or concerns?

  • Do you want to keep it as a prototype or cross it off the list?


There are many ways to test and learn more about careers, answer your questions, and experience the career in a low-risk environment. You also can test more than one career at a a time.


Different ways to test careers


Internet resources

  • Quora- This Q&A website allows you to search past questions or submit your own questions and read responses from (usually) very qualified people in that career.

  • LinkedIn- You can search the name of the career and read job postings and people’s profiles.

  • My Next Move and O*Net- These resources have questionnaires you can answer and summaries of career paths you can explore.

  • OwlGuru- This is a career finder site that has simple definitions of many career paths and groups them by function and industry.


Take note of what words or phrases stick out and group them by theme. Feel free to print things out to annotate!


Talking to people

The best way to get your personal questions answered is by talking to people who are doing, or have recently done, the jobs you are interested in. Read the informational interview section for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.


School clubs

Join clubs at your college related to your career interests. It is an easy way to learn about a career, build your network and make friends.



Look for volunteering opportunities related to your career interests.


Side projects

Create your own projects to try out your interests.

  • Interested in computer science? Create and code a website or app.

  • Interested in photography? Take photos of friends for graduation or their LinkedIn profiles.

  • Interested in finance? Practice investing with a stock market simulator like Investopedia without investing real money. (Investing in and yielding high profits in the actual stock market can affect your future financial aid package.)



The most realistic way to test out a career is a to try it on for 2-3 months in an internship. Read the Finding Internships and Jobs section to find out how to get started.

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