by Sharon Fleshman
Do a google search on “best places to work” and you’ll get an abundance of responses. While this can be a good starting place for job seekers who are sizing up employers, a “best places” list (strictly speaking) will differ from one person to the next. How will you develop your own personal list?
Conduct a self-assessment. Reflect on your past work, whether paid employment, class projects, or extracurricular/volunteer activities, and ask yourself some questions. What energized you? What drained you? What did you value most about your assigned tasks and work environment? The Career Services website has a brief inventory on work values that can serve as a point of reference.
Research potential employers. Once you have pondered what you value in the workplace, it’s time to get a sense of what a given employer may value. If you go to the employer website, look for a mission statement or set of core values that communicates what is valued. Most organizations have a news section on their websites; are there any new initiatives or projects listed that intrigue you? You may want to dig a little deeper and search newspapers or trade magazines to find articles on recent developments involving employers of interest. In many cases, reviewing relevant periodicals may also unearth some employers that you had not even considered.
Ask thoughtful questions. Whether during informational interviews with those who work (or have worked) at the employer under consideration, or at a job interview, you should prepare questions that will lead to clues about whether you would enjoy working there. Some possible questions are: What attracted you to this company? What qualities and skills are most valued at this firm? What characteristics must one have to thrive at this organization?
Check out the workplace. There’s no substitute for observing and interacting with others in the workplace. In some cases, you may be able to intern or volunteer with an organization to get a feel for what it would be like to work there. At the very least, try to arrange for a site visit or shadowing experience where you can chat with current employees.
Of course, compiling your “best places” list will always be a work in progress as you grow and evolve, but now is as good a time as any to get started!