Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad Summer Session CAREER LINK


You are here

As you go through the self-assessment process, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer. Your individual motivations, what drives you and inspires you, and your unique passions should all be factored in. You are the driver of this process and the one who should determine the direction that you want to go.


Four Components of Self-Assessment 

Career satisfaction comes when you pursue careers that utilize your skills, fit with your interests and personality, and are aligned with your values. Use the information and activities in the following section to begin identifying and reflecting on your skills, interests, personality, and values.

Tip: Self-assessment is the first step in the career decision-making process. It’s essential to take time to reflect on each of these four areas, as they all contribute to career satisfaction.


Skills are what you do well. The skills that come naturally to you are commonly referred to as your aptitudes or talents. Skills and natural aptitudes are developed through training and experience. For example, you may have a natural aptitude for playing a musical instrument, but without practice and training to develop this aptitude, you may struggle to be a star musician. Someone without this same natural aptitude may find it challenging to achieve the same level of success as a musician, even with an equal amount of practice.

Some skills are transferrable – meaning they can be used across a wide range of work environments and applied Yale in many functional areas. For example, communication skills are valued in nearly all industries and roles, making them highly transferrable. Other skills relate to specialized knowledge that is typically acquired through training and education. These include technical skills, such the use of laboratory equipment. It’s important to take the time to identify what yours are and how those may connect with career options. Start this process by reflecting on the hard and soft skills listed below; which skills do you have? Are there areas where you have natural aptitudes that could be developed into skills? What other skills have you developed that are not listed here?


Interests are the things you enjoy doing or learning about. You may have a wide-ranging set of interests or a few activities from which you derive a great deal of pleasure. Your interests may change over time as you are introduced to new areas of study and experiences, and as you progress through different stages of your life. Whatever your interests may be they have a huge impact on your career decisions. Keep in mind that some of your interests will be personal while others are more career-oriented. It’s important to identify both types of interests, as there may be ways to incorporate your personal interests into your career, directly or indirectly. Reflecting on your interests, in conjunction with your skills, personality, and values, is an important step in the self-assessment process. Use the questions below to begin your reflection.

  • What activities do you gravitate towards? What specifically appeals to you about those activities? What roles do you tend to fill? Are there type of work or projects you enjoy taking the lead on?
  • What issues or causes are important to you? If you’re involved in volunteer work, what types of organizations do you volunteer with and why? What roles do you tend to take on and why do you take those specific roles on?
  • Have you ever been so immersed in a project, task or activity that you lost track of time or didn’t want to stop? What were you doing?
  • If you could do anything – all obstacles removed – what would you be doing?
  • When have you been happiest in life? What were you doing?
  • What careers were you interested in as a child? (What did you imagine you’d be when you grew up?) Why? What appealed to you about those careers?
  • What are your hobbies? How do you spend your free time?
  • What classes have been your favorites in high school and at Yale? What appealed to you about those classes?
  • If you could take classes on any topic, what would you take and why?
  • Who do you admire most and why?
  • When reading newspapers, magazines, websites or watching TV, what types of shows, topics or issues are you naturally drawn to? What appeals to you about those?
  • If someone was awarding you a lifetime achievement award, what would you like him/her to say about you?


Personality is your unique combination of characteristics that influence your thoughts, behaviors, decisions, and how you engage with the world around you. This includes where you direct your energy, how you make decisions and preferences towards living in a more structured or spontaneous way. A job that is perfect for one person can be totally wrong for another; your individual attributes and preferences have a lot to do with this.

  • How much interaction with others do you need in your work? Are you energized by being around a lot of people, or do you prefer working in small groups, or working alone?
  • Do you prefer imagining possibilities and being inventive, or do you enjoy handling practical matters, details, and work that is measurable?

People can find success and satisfaction in all fields, regardless of personality type; but the understanding of personality type can help you consider what type of jobs within your fields of interest may be the best fit. Remember, personality is only one of the components to consider in the career exploration and self-assessment process.


Values are principles, standards or qualities that influence your choices throughout your life and provide guidance when evaluating options. Examining your values and making choices that are consistent with them is a key component of career satisfaction. It’s also essential to define what your values mean to you. For example, the desire to make a difference is a career-related value that many people share. But what that means to each person can be very different. In what way do you want to make a difference and for whom? Do you want to make a difference in conservation of natural resources, access to healthcare, food security, or immigration reform? Would you prefer to draft legislation, raise funds to support programs, educate the public on issues, or provide direct services to those impacted by issues? Take time to reflect and define these values for yourself.
prioritizing which values you must have in your career and which values would be nice to have if possible.

Tying It Together

Use the information you’ve learned about yourself through this process to evaluate how possible career fields fit with who you are. Look for areas where the four components of self-assessment converge. Neglecting one or more component may leave you with an incomplete picture of the elements that contribute to career satisfaction. For example, skills are only one piece of the larger puzzle. You may excel at something but not enjoy doing it. Also, keep in mind that self-assessment is an ongoing process. 

Sometimes well-intentioned people, such as friends and family, may point out skills, interests, or aspects of your personality that they are most familiar with and suggest careers based on those; however, they may or may not be the best option for you since they may not be seeing the whole picture. Remember, you are unique and complex, with motivations, interests, aspirations and passions that only you may know. Avoid the noise –people can tell you what’s important to them in a career and where they’ve found satisfaction, but only you know what is important to you and what you’ll most enjoy doing.

Career Assessment Tools

The Office of Career Strategy offers career assessment tools that can supplement the self-assessment process. These can be powerful and useful tools when used in conjunction with other self-assessment exercises and career exploration activities, but there are limitations to career assessments. They cannot and do not define you, nor do they tell you what you should do. But they can suggest areas for further exploration and give you a place to begin your research and evaluation. Assessments can be a valuable resource, but they can also be misleading if you are not ready to accurately and honestly assess yourself.

  • Values, Interests, and Skills:  Developed by Yale's Office of Career Strategy Advisors, this workbook will guide you through the identification of your values, interests, and skills and how they relate to sectors, industries, and job functions.  Sample language is also provided to help students as they prepare to speak with others about their interests and career-related plans. After you identify your values, interests, and skills, the workbook then offers next steps you can take in the career exploration process.
  • Designing Your Career @ Yale:  Using Stanford University’s innovative approach of applying Design Thinking principles to life and career decision-making, a team of advisors at the Office of Career Strategy hosts 1/2 day long workshops to help students:
    • Explore possible career futures
    • Take proactive steps to test career interests, moving from contemplation to action
    • Become a part of a growing community of life designers

Design thinking can help you create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of background and identity, or what your interests might be.

Point: The next Designing Your Career @ Yale program will be offered on: February 16, 2018, 12pm-5pm, at Yale's Office of Career Strategy.  Apply here.  Deadline: January 26, 2018.
Open to all Yale sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Contact or with any questions.