Some individuals come to our employment program with no idea what kind of work they’d like to do. And that’s okay! As long as the desire to work is there, we can help with the rest!
We strive to match individuals with jobs that work well for them, based on our understanding of their strengths, interests, and goals for the future. A lot of this information is captured in the Discovery document, a detailed profile of an individual that can be used to match them with appropriate work opportunities. Sometimes, though, the Discovery alone isn’t enough to give someone a real idea of what they would like to do – especially if they have not had much opportunity previously to try different things and explore their interests in a work-type setting.
We have some tricks up our sleeves for helping people discover what they would like to do. Our favorite way to encourage people in their career exploration is with career cruising.
What is Career Cruising?
Career cruising is a hands on activity meant to engage individuals with their job search and broaden their understanding of specific types of jobs and workplaces.
There is no “right way” to do career cruising, which makes it a very adaptable activity for all individuals. Generally speaking, career cruising begins with an assessment of an individual’s strengths and interests, which are then developed into a few categories or themes. The individual is encouraged to research local businesses that fall within each category and develop a list (or lists) of businesses that they are interested in looking at for possible employment opportunities.
For example: If a person has strong social skills and is interested in fashion, then a theme of interest for them might be clothing stores. They might go on to list various businesses that fall under that category, including thrift stores, mall retail outlets, and/or fashion boutiques.
The job seeker then selects a minimum of three businesses from their list to go and visit in person. This visit can be arranged with the business in advance if needed, but often individuals are encouraged to go as “customers” to get a feel for the place. On site, individuals observe the workplace and try to identify as many different positions as they can, as well as record individual tasks that are being done by the employees.
For some people, this can be an extremely eye-opening experience, as they might find that there is more to a certain position than they initially thought; conversely, they might be become more open to positions that they had previously thought weren’t for them, or that they had never even thought of at all.
The objective of career cruising, on the surface, is for increased engagement in the job search. But the process of career cruising goes much deeper, targeting an individual’s perception of work (what does it mean to have a job? what kind of jobs exist?) and of themselves. By placing themselves in the shoes of a worker and imagining what it would be like to do a certain job, an individual can significantly broaden their concept of work and refine their interests, bringing them one step closer to finding the perfect position.