Tips on Making Career Decisions
Ask the Right Questions Link to Resources
College students are quick to ask, "What can I do with a major in.?" You are advised to hold off on asking this question until you have first thought through these questions: "What do I enjoy doing?" "What do I value in life?" "What personality traits do I prefer using in a work setting?"
Generate & Explore Career Options Link to Resources
Exploring options will require a considerable amount of your time and energy. The objectives in this stage of the decision-making process are to:
- identify career fields that fit with your interests, values, skills, and personality, and
- research these occupations to determine which ones represent a "best fit" (it's common to have more than one "best fit" option).
Discovering one's "best fit" career fields need not be an overwhelming task if you recognize that this is a process that typically spans from the freshmen to senior years and can overlap with your academic course work. For instance, doing an internship for academic credit is a great way to test out an occupational field and meet credit hour requirements for graduation at the same time.
Make Effective Decisions Link to Resources
A key step in the decision making process is to evaluate your various options. The challenge lies in blending rational and intuitive approaches, as the goal is to arrive at a decision that is consistent with your "gut feelings" while at the same time being grounded in practical reasoning.
Establish a Game Plan Link to Resources
A degree is no guarantee of a job - it only allows you to enter the playing field with the competition. Therefore, once you've decided upon which career path to pursue, you should work on building skills that are desirable to employers in that field. For instance, if you want to pursue training and development it will be important to develop skills in public speaking, writing, and using presentation software.
Likewise, if you decide to apply to graduate or professional school, you need to find out the selection criteria that are typically used by these programs. Don't wait until you plan to apply to get this information! Meeting some of the criteria (e.g., volunteer hours, portfolio development) will require long-term planning on your part. The best first step is to meet with the appropriate faculty advisor as he/she can describe what steps you need to take to build a competitive application.