- Consider Your Interests and Skills
- Investigate Careers that Mix Your Passions and Strengths
- Know the Job Market
- Enlist the Help of Academic Advisors
- Talk to People in Fields that Interest You
- Meet with the Center for Career Development Staff
- Will You Be Doing What You Love
- Consider Long Term Career Goals
Consider Your Interests and Skills
A good place to start is to evaluate what you enjoy and how you like to spend your time. Also think about personal strengths. Engage in self-reflection.
- What courses did you enjoy in high school?
- What do you like about things you did in previous work experiences or volunteer positions?
- Think about the skills you have obtained from academics, hobbies, and work experiences.
- PathwayU is a great resource for assessing skills and interests – let Career Development help you identify your interests and skills and relate them to possible majors.
Investigate Careers that Mix Your Passions and Strengths
Pursuing a career that makes you happy and successful is important. Many students select majors in which they believe they will make a lot of money, but they do not like the subject matter. Think about where you can really flourish by choosing something where you can use a combination of your own skills and things you can enjoy doing daily.
Know the Job Market
Understanding the job market for particular fields may help you determine a career path and a major. There are great resources that you can explore to get an idea of what jobs have bright outlooks while others may be in decline. These resources can also provide an idea of salary ranges for particular occupations. The Occupational Outlook Handbook, ONET Online, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics are great resources for exploring national and regional data regarding wages and outlooks for future employment in a particular field.
Enlist the Help of Academic Advisors
Academic advisors help students see what classes are applicable to which degree plans. They can determine if classes are transferrable from other programs and institutions, or they can recommend courses that apply to multiple majors as you go through the decision process.
Talk to People in Fields that Interest You
Professionals love to talk to students who are thinking about breaking into their field of interest. In fact, many belong to social networks like LinkedIn where they can network and offer advice. Ask your professors, advisors, family, alumni relations staff, and career development staff to help you connect with people who would be willing to talk to you. Questions you may ask could include:
- What do you like about your job? What do you dislike?
- What do you wish you knew before entering the field?
- What do you suggest I do to prepare for a career in the field?
- What majors would you recommend for breaking into this field?
- How do you see the field evolving or what influences are changing the way you work?
- What activities would you recommend I engage in while in college to get ready for this field?
Meet with the Center for Career Development Staff
Career Development has many resources for helping you decide on a major, including assessments, online resources, and recommendations for career exploration. Get many people onboard to help you with the decision-making process, building a team who together can help you make a decision you will be happy with.
Will You Be Doing What You Love
The exciting part of a liberal arts education is that it is a comprehensive pairing of academics and experiences that prepare students for the world of work regardless of major. That being said, it is important to follow your dreams and discover your passions. If you do have a passion for something, follow it; there are well-paid people in every field and people are happier when they are doing what they love. Make a list of the things you love and can yourself doing. All interests can coincide with at least one major, and likely more. Share your interests with professors, advisors, and career development staff.
Consider Long Term Career Goals
While following your passion is important, it is also important that your major is aligned with your long-term career goals. Questions to ask yourself may include:
- How much time are you willing to spend in school?
- What kind of hours are you willing to work?
- Are you open to relocating for a job?
- How easy will it be to find a job in your field?
- What do you see yourself doing?
- What will your work environment look like?
- Will you still enjoy this work years from now?
- Will it be around later in life?
- Can you earn a good living?
- Will you feel fulfilled by doing this kind of work?
By thinking through the day-to-day realities of professional life you may narrow down your decision. The skills you acquire in college will always serve you, whether you find your dream job right away or after trying on several careers for size. Enlist help in customizing your academic experience to career paths that have meaning for you.