Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

The World of Work

What might I think about when exploring the world of work?


What Information do I need to know about the World of Work?

The “World of Work” is a term we are using to talk about the diverse, broad expanse of vocational opportunities that exist.  “Work” in this context can mean lots of things:

Information about the world of work is the knowledge you may need to decide if work is for you. People often need SOME information about the kinds of work that exist. They may need information about what tasks different jobs need and even what different work environments might look like.  (Different workplaces may have different workplace “cultures.”)

How much information do I need about the world of work to feel ready to work?

You do not need to know everything about the world of work to feel ready to work!  In fact, the best way to find out about work is to do it. Some of the approaches to supporting employment that have the most success run on this principle.  You may know this from experience: to do something is to know it! However, it may be helpful to think about whether you feel you have enough information about work to feel confident about Choosing a job.

How do I know if I have enough Information about the world of work?

“Enough” Information is decided by you. Thinking about work is deciding whether you feel ready to pursue work – to choose, get, and keep work or a career. You can decide how much information is enough.  To consider whether you have enough information to feel confident/ready to move forward, think about the following questions.

  • What do you remember about the kinds of jobs or other work experiences you have had in the past? What do you remember about the place, the people, and the things you had to do?
  • What do you know about other kinds of work?  What do you know about what people do in those jobs, what kinds of requirements there are to get into those jobs, or what they “look” like?

What if I don’t feel I have enough information about the world of work?

If you don’t feel like you have enough information to choose a job or school, you may want to learn more about the kinds of jobs that are out there.  There are lots of ways to learn about different kinds of work. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET (online vocational exploration tools) is a free online tool to discover different types of work, and more.  You can also explore the CareerOneStop website.

How do I know if I have enough information about myself as a worker to feel confident about moving forward with work?

What is enough information about yourself is up to you. You might decide that you have enough work experience behind you to know what it’s like to be a worker, or you might decide that you want to see what it’s like to work now.  What’s interesting about this is, that either way, it may make sense to try out working: as a way to get more experience and confidence, or to move forward with your career.

Who can help me explore what I would like and not like in a workplace?

There are many different options for you if you want to get support to figure out what your preferences are.  The roles of Vocational Rehabilitation, Supported Employment, Mental Health, and America’s Job Centers staff are explored here.

Also, you should consider listening to peer supporters who would share their experiences of recovery. Some peer specialists may get help with how to think about work, such as with training in Vocational Peer Support.  Others may be willing to talk it through and share their experiences.

Other supports may be helpful to you. You may have friends, family, or others who know you and what you like to do. Talk with them about what they know about you, and get encouragement from them to try out different work experiences.

What if I don’t think I have enough information to move forward with work?

There are two kinds of information you may want to have about work: information about yourself as a worker, and information about the world of work.  (Farkas, et. al., 2000; Nicolellis & Legere, 2015) The situations below may help you think through how to deal with not having enough information to feel confident about working.

If you don’t think you know enough about what you like about work, what your interests are, and what you’re good at, or what’s out there, then you might want to do things like:

  • Explore your options for work.  Go to a site such as O*Net, which has a lot of information and ways to explore the things that might appeal to you as a worker.
  • Talk to people about work.  Ask them what they do, what they like about what they do, and how they got into that work.  Find out from people what their vocational paths have been like. This is sometimes called “Informational Interviewing.
  • Try out different jobs!  The best way to find out about yourself as a worker, is to do it.  We learn what we like about different work environments by working in a variety of places.  We learn what we’re good at, and not so good at, through our learning and working experiences. Life’s a good teacher, so use experience with work to learn who you are as a worker.

What if I don’t know much about myself as a worker?

We want to have some information about the kinds of work that exist as we move forward with a job.  We also may want to take stock of how much we know about ourselves as workers.

Knowing yourself as a worker is also known as “worker identity.” Worker identity can be looked at as having several parts: vocational values, preferences, and strengths. (Restrepo-Toro, et.al. 2015; Career Planning Curriculum)

Vocational Values:
Values guide our everyday decisions. For example, if we value “family,” we may make decisions that keep our families at the center of our lives. Vocational values are important when we make decisions about work.  For example, some people value variety while others value repetitiveness.  Some may value creativity, while others may value correctness.  Some may want autonomy, while others value teamwork.

Vocational Preferences:
Preferences are what we like, or prefer. Preferences will guide our decision-making about work during Choosing Work. Preferences will vary person to person, and say something about you as a person and a worker.  For example, some people prefer working during daytime hours, others at night or odd hours that allow them to parent.  You may prefer working in an office environment, whereas others may enjoy working outside.

Vocational Strengths:
Strengths refer to what you are good at.  Vocational strengths are the work tasks or skills that you are good at. Everyone’s vocational strengths differ.  Some people are good at physical tasks like lifting or standing. Others are good at understanding people and working as a team. Still others are good at intellectual tasks, such as making decisions or writing newsletters.

Consider the following if you are thinking about work.

  • What do you know about your own vocational values?
  • What do you know about your vocational preferences?
  • What do you know about your vocational strengths?
  • Do you feel you know enough about what is important to you, what you prefer, and what you can do to feel confident about moving forward with work?

Return to the main "Thinking About Work" page.

Where am I in my employment journey?

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