Major & Career Exploration Tips

A simple formula:
Degree + Core Career Competencies
+ Experiences = Career Options

Undecided on a major or career path? Afraid of making the “wrong” choice? You are not alone! Many people feel this way, especially when asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Good news: you don't need to know the answer to make progress toward your goals. The advice below will help you take steps towards making decisions for your future. CLA Career Services also offers Career Counseling Appointments, Career Assessments and Career Classes to assist you with this process.

Know Yourself

Consider and reflect on your interests, personality, strengths, values, skills, core career competencies, identity, and needs.

  • Values: What things are most important to me? What grounds me? What will I fight for?
  • Interests: What captures my attention? What am I curious about? What types of things am I drawn to (i.e. people, data, ideas, things, numbers/finances, etc.)?
  • Personality: Where do I get my energy? How do I take in information? What types of information do I trust? How do I tend to make decisions? How do I organize my time?
  • Skills/Strengths: Where do I naturally excel? What skills have I built that are transferrable from one area to another?
  • Core Career Competencies you’d like to develop
  • Identity and/or culture: (i.e. race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, age, religion, family position, etc.) How has your identity influenced (either positively or negatively) your ideas about a major or career path?
  • Needs and other influences that may impact your decision (i.e. expectations about pay, location, abilities, family or cultural expectations, education/training needed, life experiences, special circumstances, etc.)
Take a Career Course to 
explore and prepare for careers!

Reflect on what connections or themes you see within your Values, Interests, Personality, Skills/Strengths, Core Career Competencies, Identity, and Needs. Meet with a Career Counselor to discuss!

Now that you know more about yourself, we recommend you actively explore your options to gain insights and clarity on your major and career options. 


Know Your Options

Research:

Observe:

  • Try job shadowing a professional in an area of interest
  • Attend relevant events hosted by a department or industry of interest
  • Visit spaces that students/professionals frequent to get a sense of the culture

Discuss:

  • Meet with a Career Counselor for guidance on navigating the career development process
  • Set up an informational interview with an alumnus to gain insights on the major
  • Join the Major Network to connect with a upper classman in a major you are interested in
  • Speak with a professor to learn about relevant research or trends in the industry
  • Talk to your advisors for course planning advice
  • Consult friends and family about your ideas

Experience:

Reflect!

Always remember to reflect on what you learned from any given experience, positive or negative. Be sure to consider what factors may have contributed to your overall impressions (i.e. what did you learn about your preferences for work environment, individual vs. team collaborations, communication techniques, supervision styles, workplace professionalism, schedule/hours, etc). Remember, even if your experience was less than enjoyable, you gained insights that should help you narrow down or expand your options. Meet with a Career Counselor to discuss your options.

Feeling especially overwhelmed or anxious about your major or career choice? Utilize your campus resources:

The Center for Academic Planning and Exploration (CAPE) offers personalized major-exploration services to exploring undergraduate students through workshops, online resources, and one-on-one coaching.

Student Counseling Services (SCS) offers individual and group counseling services, classes, workshops, and online resources covering a range of topics including career uncertainty, learning and academic skills challenges, mental health and life concerns, and faculty/staff-student communication.