By: Gina Anselmo, former career advisor for the DePaul University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences 

Recently, I learned what a “desire path” is from a faculty colleague who is well versed in exploring the art of walking. A desire path refers to a natural path made by a walker or bicyclist as opposed to a path that already exists, like a sidewalk. It occurred to me that perhaps a desire path is the kind of path a College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (LAS) student is looking for in order to respond to some internal sleuthing of an “I know it when I see it” type of career. To pave your own desire path, you need to jump into exploratory resources that help you lay the foundation of what makes up your professional identity as well as explore sites of inspiration that help you investigate fit.

Here are a few exploratory resources and inspirational sites to help you discover your professional identity and interests, and to help you pave your own desire path.

What is your Primer? Developing your Professional Identity

Exploring elements of your professional identity can help you connect what you want to learn and do (interests), what motivates you (values), your strengths (skills), and your characteristics (personality), which will in turn uncover paths.

After you have identified terms that describe your interests, values, and skills, think about the following:

  • What themes can you identify in your reflection?
  • Can you start to see how these areas can be applied to different settings and professional roles?
  • Try to think of different career titles/settings that complement your interests
  • Can you identify action steps that would help you test out “fit” in the interests you identified?

Finding Your Buckets, Gathering More Language

ONET is a rock star, career exploration site that can help you uncover more connections between your professional identity and which occupations interest you the most.

Explore ONET through some of the following searches to discover occupations that link to a mash up of your interests:

  • Job Families
  • Interests (your top three)
  • Values Clusters
  • Skills Search

Food for Thought: Stories Sparking…More Stories

The following sites can help you find topics or stories that resonate with your professional self, and allow you to further uncover interest paths. You may also find stories from others who have likeminded interests.

  • Medium, a community of readers offering unique perspectives
  • Exposure, adventures and stories through a photographic lens
  • Ted Talks and more Ted Talks that inspire college students

People, Places and Positions

Sometimes uncovering interests will stem from learning about other people’s paths and stories. By exploring alumni profiles, you can uncover the paths that alumni have taken with the same major:

  • Search away on LinkedIn and explore the studies and career paths of alumni
  • Connect with the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network to get assistance with finding alumni with the same major/minor or who are currently in a job or industry that interests you

Calling in Reinforcements – Work Place Culture

The vibe that an organization executes can set the tone for engagement, happiness, and satisfaction among professionals. It also goes hand-in-hand with identifying your work values. Here are two sites that can help you explore workplace settings and cultures and determine which environments you will thrive in.

Scavenger Hunt of Inspiration – Job Search Sites

The following sites might spark ideas of how your broad areas of interests could narrow to specialized areas, settings and professional roles:

  • Lumity npo.net, a job board of nonprofit and community service opportunities
  • Idealist, a platform where 118,600+ organizations post career opportunities
  • Chicago Artist Resource, a site providing artists with national and international resources
  • Back Door Jobs, a place to find summer jobs, internships, seasonal positions, volunteering opportunities and more
  • Indeed, a platform to discover fresh job listing

My Advice to You When Looking for Career Inspiration

Remember that many careers have more than one starting point. Every career can be unpacked to have many adaptations, which can lead to more career possibilities. Build on the foundation of what describes you and use a mash-up of your interests, values, and skills to continue to create the road you are looking for.


Are you interested in strengthening your understanding of professional interests? You can meet with a career advisor who specializes in supporting your college. You can also check out the Career Center’s online exploration resources and connect with the ASK network.