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"I've been interested in photography since I was 10, so after taking graphic arts in high school, I went right into pre-media. Nowadays, instead of a camera and darkroom, I work with images in the computer."
Scott Gentile, Pre-Media Specialist

Start Planning Your Career

"What do you do?"

When you're asked this question today, you might answer, "I play guitar" or "I like to work out" or "I'm into video games." In just a few years, though, this familiar question will take on a whole new meaning - not "What do you like to do?" but "What are you doing with your life?"

How will you answer? And more importantly, how will you feel about your answer? Proud? Satisfied? Discouraged? Disappointed?

You can plan on feeling good about what you do if you plan for your future today. That means finding out about yourself and then matching your talents, interests, and personality to the career options you have available.

It's really a pretty simple process, and in the end, you should have a good idea of the career that's right for you - one that will let you say, "I like what I'm doing with my life."

1. Identify Your Interests
First, jot down your interests - the kinds of things you like to do. Here are some questions to help you find out if you'd be interested in a graphic communications career.
    Do You Like...
  • Working with people?
  • Working with numbers?
  • Working with technology? Machines? Computers?
  • Science?
  • Writing?
  • Being artistic?
  • Working with designs?
  • Solving problems?
  • Being creative?
  • Being efficient and organized?
  • Being detail-oriented?

Need more help sorting out your interests? Try these online resources:

    Interests Assessment for High School Students
    An interactive form designed to help you identify your interests in terms of the Holland Classification System (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional) and find careers that match your interests; at the Rutgers University Career Services web site.

    Career Interest Checklist
    An interactive form that automatically links your interests to likely careers; at the Indiana Learn More Resource Center web site.

2. Evaluate Your Strengths
Next, think about your skills and talents - both things you've learned and things you're just good at. Use these questions to see if you have the skills and talents for a graphic communications career.
    Are You Good...
  • With people?
  • With numbers?
  • With technology? Machines? Computers?
  • At writing?
  • At art?
  • At working with designs?
  • At solving problems?
  • At being creative?
  • At being efficient and organized?
  • At being detail-oriented?
  • At managing?

Need more help gauging your strengths? Try these online resources:

    Skills Assessment Checklist
    An extensive list of skills - everything from abstract thought to writing - designed to help you take stock of your strengths and talents; at the Arizona State University Career Services web site.

    Skills Profiler
    A comprehensive set of interactive tools designed to help you identify your skills and find occupations where you can put those skills to use; at CareerOneStop, a federal-state partnership web portal.

3. Examine Your Personality
You've probably heard the expression, "She's a born..." It means someone has the right personality for her job. Use these questions to find out whether a career in graphic communications suits your personality.
    Are You...
  • A good leader?
  • Self-motivated?
  • Someone who motivates others?
  • Introspective?
  • Someone who prefers to work independently?
  • Someone who needs immediate feedback?
  • Goal-oriented?
  • Enterprising?

Need more help tuning into your personality? Try this online resource:

    TypeFocusTM Personality Assessment
    An interactive questionnaire to help you determine your personality type in terms of four familiar preference pairs: extravert/introvert, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, judgment/perception. A free service from TypeFocus Internet Inc., which also offers in-depth assessment for a fee.

4. Determine Your Qualifications
Education and experience are the qualifications that matter most in a career search. At this stage in your life, you're just beginning to gain these qualifications. But you can look ahead to the qualifications you expect to have in the future. Use this checklist to see how your qualifications will match up with careers in graphic communications.
High School 
In addition to your diploma, you may graduate from high school with special qualifications based on your course work and extracurricular activities. These high school activities can help you find a career in graphic communications.
  • Graphic design courses
  • Art courses
  • Graphic communications technology courses
  • Computer science courses
  • Journalism courses
  • Student publications
  • Business management
  • Participation in VICA, DECA, Business Professionals of America, and similar organizations.
Higher Education 
If you see more schooling in your future, this might be a good time to investigate Educational Programs in Graphic Communications, especially at colleges, universities, and technical schools in your state.
  • Two years
  • Four years
  • Post-graduate
Other Training 
After-school programs, community center classes, even training you received for a job can add to your list of qualifications.
  • On the job training
  • Courses and programs outside school
  • Apprenticeships
  • Clubs and other organizations
Think about the work habits you've developed and the kinds of responsibilities you've taken on, as well as any specific skills you've learned on the job.
  • Part-time
  • Summer job
  • Volunteer experience
5. Explore Your Options
Now that you know a little more about yourself, you're ready to start exploring specific career possibilities.

Use this chart to match your interests and skills to some of the many career paths available in graphic communications. When you click a job title in CAPITAL LETTERS, you'll have a chance to meet a real graphic communications professional who does that job.

Graphic Communications Skills Chart
Artistic SkillsCareer Opportunities
You Are
creative, organized, resourceful, able to see the big picture yet stay focused on the details

You Need
design training, artistic aptitude, computer skills

Technical SkillsCareer Opportunities
You Are
efficient, organized, attentive to detail, a problem-solver with a keen appreciation for craftsmanship

You Need
technical training, mathematical or scientific aptitude, computer skills

Language SkillsCareer Opportunities
You Are
articulate, insightful, attentive to detail, a good listener who can generate ideas

You Need
design training, verbal aptitude, computer skills

  • Copywriter
  • Editor
  • Proofreader
  • Desktop Publisher
  • Planning Specialist
  • Plant Manager
  • Account Manager
  • Marketing & Sales Executive
  • Technical Services Representative
  • Graphic Communications Systems Salesperson
Business SkillsCareer Opportunities
You Are
self-motivated, goal-oriented, a team-builder with good people skills

You Need
business training, financial aptitude, presentation skills




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