Begin by being reflective about yourself – Linguist, know thyself:
Examine your own path with an eye to identifying patterns in the choices that you make and have made. In the way that you are trained as a sociolinguist to examine presuppositions, identify underlying assumptions and (often largely unsconscious) systematicity and patterning in your own academic and professional life.
Your Academic Life
When you are given the choice, what kinds of research topics, communities, and methods of analysis are you drawn to? Do you prefer field research or reading? Why? Maggie Debelius in SWAYGTDWT? talks about this as a question about whether you tend to prefer to get your information from people or from books. This point is a significant one. These tendencies may point to different choices of industry or maybe functions within those industries, or maybe even just ways that you can structure any job to carve out more of the work that you enjoy. You will probably be better at jobs you enjoy simply because you enjoy them.
Study Habits: Ideally this process can begin while you are still in graduate school so that you can pay attention to your work habits including whether you prefer to work alone or in groups. What time of day do you get your best work done? Do you prefer the structure of a deadline or do you like to have time and space to be creative and exploratory with your thinking, research, and writing? Do you find yourself volunteering to do things like editing for your peers? The seeds of your
Professors: Think about the feedback you have gotten from your professors about what projects you have done the best on. Go back to these who you trust (as well as your friends and family) to ask some more about where they see your strengths. What type of instruction do you prefer (this can tell you something about how you function in a team or what type of supervision you want to look for / ask for). Thinking about professors who you found challenging to work with, what can you identify as being the source of your frustration? Sometimes we forget that we can really ask for the work environment that we want. When we know as much as possible about how we function, the better position we are in to navigate this conversation.
Classes: Looking back on the classes you have had thus far, ask yourself what types of classes are you drawn to? When you are given freedom of type of project to create, do you choose multimedia, web-based, or service-type projects? What types of projects do you excel at?