You are the central character in your career narrative. So who are you? To answer this question, you will need to reflect on your interests, your values, and the professional skills you have acquired so far.

Self-assessment involves looking inward in order to establish future goals. A strong sense of identity and purpose is the engine that can propel your career, determining the professional development choices you make.

As the first step in your self-assessment, write a paragraph that answers the question, “Who are you?” This is a big question, and you may wish to structure your answer as a series of responses to smaller questions, such as:

  • What program are you enrolled in, and what is/are your area(s) of special interest?
  • How would you describe your personal values and beliefs?
  • What are some of your interests outside of school? Do you have any hobbies that you are passionate about?
  • What would your ideal job be like? How would you describe your ideal work environment?
  • What are your criteria for “success” and “happiness”?
  • Is there a particular field of work that you find interesting?

If you are having trouble with your self-summary, you may wish to consult the Career Values Checklist on the Career Services website. You can also visit Carleton’s Career Services for drop-in coaching or consulting or to schedule an appointment for career counselling.

As a second step in your assessment, you’ll need to complete a skill identification exercise. One way to do this is by using the method below.

Skill identification exercise

It is often hard for us to recognize the skills we already possess. That is why it is important to spend some time identifying the skills you have developed in your experiences both inside and outside of academia.

Complete the following exercise:

1. List some of the skill-development experiences from your past. Possibilities include:

particular classes or assignments, previously held jobs (part-time or full time), specific courses, specific assignments in courses, Teaching Assistant positions, Research Assistant positions, student government involvement, editing student journals or books for publication, academic publishing, blogging or social media communication, activism, scholarship applications, special interest activities (hobbies)…and anything else you can think of!

Include as much information as possible about the date ranges of the skill-development experiences, as well as locations and other details.

2. As best you can, list all of the TASKS that you performed as part of this experience.


  • Teaching Assistant position
    • Marking
    • Tutorials
    • Teaching
    • Office hours
    • Hosting virtual meetings or webinars

3. For each of the tasks (and this is the really important part!), list the SKILLS you employed or developed in completing the task.

  • Teaching Assistant position
    • Marking
      • Providing oral and written feedback
      • Quantitative and qualitative evaluation
      • Following instruction
      • Dealing with disputes
      • Working to hard deadlines
      • Handling sensitive information
      • Use of Learning Management Systems
    • Tutorials
      • Facilitating discussion
      • Oral communication
      • Ability to synthesize information
      • Presentation skills
      • Etc.

4. After you have completed this exercise for all the skill-development experiences you can think of, create a master list of the skills you identified. For each one, list the task and experience associated with it as evidence for your development of that skill.


Providing oral and written feedback / Evidence: marked tests and term papers as part of a teaching assistant position

Once finished, you will have a master list of your skills with evidence to back it up. You can draw on this list when composing cover letters or creating a skills-based resume.

Now you can proceed to Question 2.