connecting white lines with endpoints on a gradient tiel background



Change ALT description for screen readers


In this “Tell Me About Yourself” model, career explorers deepen their exploration of self and of future opportunities through the process of discovering and telling stories. Through this storytelling framework, participants engage in a multi-step process of collecting, choosing, and crafting the stories most relevant to their professional identity, in order to surface insights about their past experiences, as well as patterns in their skills, interests, and values that can inform their future career choices. By identifying and exchanging stories, participants articulate transferable skills, practice verbal communication to improve informational interviewing experiences, and expand their imagination of what’s possible by listening to the stories of others. The model’s practices are centered on supporting students from historically marginalized groups, celebrating learners’ lived experiences and building their skills for exploring and aligning identity within their own career narratives. You may want to implement this model if you seek a new, experimental framework or lens through which to introduce students to career exploration. The framework is presented as a single workshop, and can be adapted for use within a broader course or program.



Framework for career exploration, presented here as a single-session workshop

‚Äč* Could be expanded to be a two session-series, to enable learners to apply the framework to career investigation and career fit

Could be incorporated into existing course or series


One ~2 hour workshop

* Potential adaptation: 90-minute workshop followed by 60-minute workshop; with informational interview as homework


Facilitator: at least 1

Learners: 10-30 participants (or more as desired)


Typical workshop prep



Time in session  (across 120 min)

Minutes 20 40 60 80 100 120
Competency and Featured Approaches
icon - self assessment

Story crafting; considering skills, strengths, values, and life experiences

icon - identity sharing

Story sharing

icon - career investigation

Story collection via informational interviews *

icon - career fit

Combining story collection and story crafting

icon - goal setting



Evidence of Effectiveness

The storytelling framework of this model has been implemented in a range of programming and courses over the last ten years at University of Michigan and Stanford University. Previous iterations of this model have supported the full arc of career development, from identifying transferable skills to active job searching. The storytelling framework has been refined for these many uses based on observations and anonymous feedback from past participants. For this pd|hub Collection the storytelling framework focuses on the practices of self-assessment, identity formation, and relationship building in career exploration.

Model Development

This model was developed by Urmila Venkatesh, informed by her various experiences and roles in labor activism, student affairs, career development, and intergroup dialogue. The framework builds upon University of Michigan’s MPortfolio Integrative Learning Portfolio curriculum, and it draws from theories of working identity (Ibarra) and practices like life design (Evans and Burnett). Most recently, the model has been integrated into several programs within Stanford’s Career Education Center, the Integrative Learning Portfolio Lab, and the Life Design Lab.

logo: Scripps Research with infinity image in yellow

About the Fellow

Urmila Venkatesh brings 18 years of experience in higher education. Venkatesh has developed, honed, and trained others in utilizing a storytelling framework for empowering students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to define their own career narratives.

Learn more about Urmila Venkatesh
Urmila Venkatesh

Urmila Venkatesh

The pd|hub Collections are being developed with support from an Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH 1 R25 GM139076-01). The information, opinions, data, and statements contained herein are not necessarily those of the U.S. Government or the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and should not be interpreted, acted on, or represented as such.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH) logo

Page Menu

Session | Storytelling Framework