This web page is designed to help city employees find resources to help them take charge of their careers at the City of Austin.

"What do you want to be when you grow-up?" We have been asked that question ever since we were small. Now we are "grown-ups" we still get asked that question, though in more sophisticated ways "What are your career aspirations?" Chances are you have asked yourself the same question. As a child it was easy to answer, but as an adult it is tough one to answer. It becomes hard because we want so many different things from our career interesting work, recognition, chances to improve, money, and all of that needs to fit into the rest of our life.

Because it is a tough question to answer, we sometimes hope someone else will answer it for us. So we ask friends for advice hoping they will tell us just what to do. We seek direction from our loved ones hoping they will tell us just where to go. We hope our employer to will solve the problem for us, by giving us a "career path". More often than not, despite their best of intentions, they give us the answer they want. So friends tell us about careers they like, loved ones point in directions they wished they could go, and our employer just wants us to stay put. In the end, we know the only one who can really answer the question, "What do you want to be when you grow-up?" is ourselves.

It makes sense. Who else knows your interests better than you? Who else knows your skills better than you? Who else cares about your future more than you? Ultimately, the person who knows you best, and has your best interests at heart, is you. That is not to say there aren't all sorts of people who will be willing to help you. But the person you can best rely on for your career is yourself. You are in charge of your own career at the City of Austin (or anywhere else).

A Career Development Strategy

  1. Identify what you love to do. This requires you learn which skills you most enjoy using. You can find help to do this at the sources listed below.
  2. Identify where you would love to do it. We all have favorite environments (Austin, inside/outdoors) where we enjoy being. The sources below can help you sort out where you do your best work.
  3. Identify how you can do such a job. Once you have figured out what you love to do and where you love to do it, then it is a matter of finding the "job" (career) that matches your needs. With millions of jobs worldwide and over 9,000 jobs at the City of Austin the challenge is narrowing down your choices. Again the source below can help.

Suggested Reading

  • Knock ‘em Dead - an excellent resource for creating résumés, applying for jobs, and succeeding in the job interview.
  • Job Hunting for Dummies - part of the popular how to guide series and a good very readable source for info on finding a job.
  • Managing your Career for Dummies - an excellent resource for managing your current job and planning for the next job in your career.
  • Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed - one of the first and still one of the best books on how to prepare for and do well in job interviews.
  • What Color is Your Parachute? - this book is an excellent source for a career development. Long regarded as one of the classics in the field. Each year the book is updated and revised.

Helpful Contacts

  • Your supervisor/manager. If they have experience in the career field you are interested in or have extensive experience with the City of Austin they can be a great source of insight and information. Most people respond well to being asked for advice. They can be good sources for networking contacts. Additionally you can enlist their help supporting your SSPR’s development plan. It never hurts to show your boss that you are interesting in developing your skills. You might find them a valuable ally in your efforts to grow. Word of caution: Some bosses are only interested in your doing your current job and may even regard your efforts to advance your career as a threat to theirs. This is sad but true. If this is true, one step in your advancement could be to find a supervisor who is supportive.
  • Your co-workers. If they have experience either in the field or with the City they might be a good source of information or contacts into other parts of the City. These needn't be just your immediate coworkers Using the COA directory you can find the name, job title and phone number of any COA employee. So it is entirely possible for you to "cold call" someone who is either doing the job you’d like t do, or who works in the department you would like to work in. You can conduct "informational interviews" (see What Color Is Your Parachute for how do conduct these) where you can find out what they really do, how they got the job, and other "inside scoop".
  • HR Liaison. Each department has a HR Liaison responsible for all human resource information. Many times these folks are invaluable sources of "where to go" and "who to see" type information, plus they often know of job openings in the department.
  • Human Resources Department Compensation Division. This is a little-known gem, because these folks are very knowledgeable about the different skills required for different jobs. So if you have identified your preferred skills (what you love to do), they can suggest some jobs that use those skills. One of the keys to navigating the COA's job search web site is knowing the correct job title. Sometimes very similar jobs are called very different things. You might discover that the same skills you are using and developing now in your current job are exactly the same skills needed for entirely different job in another department that might pay more or have better possibilities for advancement.
  • Human Resources Department Employment Division. These are the folks that help hiring people both inside and outside the City of Austin. It stands to reason they know all about the different jobs available. They can also help you with deciphering job descriptions.
  • Job Descriptions. These documents describe the jobs of the City. They are a good first place to look when you are exploring the skills, knowledge and abilities required for a job. You can find these online by clicking here.

Web Links

  • The A large job search web site. It never hurts to see what other information and jobs is available.
  • Texas Workforce Commission This is a State of Texas organization with good resources to assist job seekers.
  • T.R.A.I.N. This is the City of Austin Intranet site for on training at the City. You can find information on courses offered by City departments, on-line computer based training (everything from computer software to management topics), Employee Assistance Program classes, tuition reimbursement and outside training and development sources. This can be an invaluable resource for training much of it "free" or at reduced cost.
  • U.S. Department of Labor A good source of nationwide information on jobs and careers. This can be a good source of research into job fields and even specific jobs. Well worth spending some time exploring the many pages of information.
  • What Color is Your Parachute web site, which supports the book by the same name. Provides articles, tests, and web links to additional information on career development and job searching.


We are not professional career counselors, so the advice we offer are only our opinions based on our experience as both job seekers and City employees. As they all say, seek the advice of a "qualified professional" which you can find in the phone book or through various online sources.

The books and web sites we cite have been found useful in our own career explorations. The City of Austin does not endorse, support or take any responsibility for any of them.