Cornell University

Clarify Interests, Values, and Skills


Explore your work interests or preferences further by remembering what courses you've enjoyed and careers you've considered.

Also consider hobbies, volunteer activities, and other informal interests. Do you prefer working with people, data, things, or ideas, and how do you want to work with them?

  • People: Instructing, healing, entertaining, representing, etc.
  • Data and Information: Compiling, classifying, computing, analyzing, etc.
  • Things: Designing, manufacturing, arranging, coordinating, etc.
  • Ideas: Inventing, communicating, interpreting, synthesizing, etc.


Determine which of your values—or personal attitudes that influence your decisions and actions—are important to you in terms of job satisfaction. Review the following and rank those most significant to you.

  • Helping others
  • Contributing to society
  • Interacting with the public
  • Working as part of a team
  • Working independently/autonomously
  • Supervising or managing others
  • Intellectual challenge
  • Recognition
  • Potential for advancement
  • Financial rewards
  • Professional status
  • Job security

You can use this ranked list to begin to identify jobs or career paths that will offer you the challenges and circumstances that you value most highly.


Skills come from a variety of work, academic, and life experiences. You will need to evaluate the skills you currently possess or want to develop.

Skills generally fall into three categories:

  • Work-content skills demonstrate your ability to perform a specific type of job. These are skills that you have gained from your academic courses or work experience, such as psychological research, accounting, engine design, human resource management, speaking a foreign language, or writing for newspapers.
  • Functional skills are applicable across careers and academic preparation, enabling you to relate to people, data, things, and/or ideas in many different settings. These include problem solving, analyzing, selling, team building, conceptualizing, and managing.
  • Self-management skills are related to the style or manner in which you work. These include abilities such as coping with deadlines, working under pressure, paying attention to detail, and personal traits such as patience, reliability, risk-taking, resourcefulness, and innovation.