Every college student must find the answer to one important question: What is your major?
Some students find the answer to this question while still in high school. Older, non-traditional students may have stumbled upon this answer during their day to day lives prior to entering their first year of college. But, for the most part, most students enter college without knowing what their major will be or, ultimately, what career option they are shooting for.
There are three steps to planning your major and your career: Identify your interests and strengths; investigate majors and occupations; implement your plan
First, let’s identify your interests and strengths. Ask yourself questions like: What am I good at? What do I like to do? What skills do I have? What skills do I need? How much education am I willing to complete?
How did you answer this first set of questions? Are you good at working with people or are you better at working alone? Do you like to help people or do you like to research and experiment by yourself? Answering these questions truthfully will lead you to what area/industry you should be considering. For example, if helping and working with people was your answer to the first three questions, then you should consider majors that lead to occupations such as social work or nursing. If your answers were about working with animals, consider majors and jobs in veterinary medicine, animal and wildlife management. These are just ideas. You will need to do your own research.
Don’t forget to consider your values and needs, as well. Do so by asking these questions: What would make a job satisfying to me? What kind of work environment fits me best? What is most important to me in a career?
Will you most enjoy a job in an office or would you rather be outside? Do you work better in a team or by yourself? Answering these questions will help you better decide the kind of jobs to look at. If you prefer working by yourself in a laboratory, then being placed in a team atmosphere outdoors may not be the best fit for you.
Now, let’s investigate some occupations. Do some research and find out what jobs are out there that interest you. Conduct informational interviews with people who do the job you would like to do. Request a meeting and ask questions such as Why did you choose this career? What did you major in at college? What part of this job do you like most?
Get hands-on experience through volunteer work, internships and part-time jobs. Nothing will help you decide if this area is best for you than actually doing the job. Plus, experience always looks great on your resume! Even if you do decide to change routes.
Next, you need to implement your plan. Compare each career with what you know about yourself.
Which major best prepares you for your chosen career? Would you enjoy doing this job every day? Does this major/career meet your personality, needs, wants, and abilities? What are the risks involved in this career? What are the chances for success?
Next, make your decision about a major or a career. Set goals to get where you want to go. Implement your plan. Re-evaluate your plan if you need to. Re-focus when needed.