Can you remember the first time you were asked what you plan to do with your life? Maybe at a gathering or right before you were about to walk across the stage in high school? I can relive this moment a few different ways as I think back to when my journey began. I gathered up the courage and faked my confidence about the major I selected as I complete college applications. Then, before I realized it, I was hit with the next question, “What am I going to do that major?” Bam! Back to square one!
There are many career resources available to help Illinois State students when trying to explore what major or career path to pursue.
Illinois State University’s website
Visit this University’s majors webpage to access the list of majors offered at Illinois State. They are listed alphabetically or you can choose to organize them by your academic or career interests, or college. Once you find one that seems interesting, click to get an overview, review career options with that major, course requirements, how to apply to that major, and more.
Once you’re familiar with various majors, the Career Center suggests taking FOCUS, a free online interest inventory. This quick self-assessment is designed to help narrow down major programs and/or career fields that align with your interests, values, personality, skills, and leisure activities.
After you have read over your results provided through FOCUS, identify a career that interests you and research it. Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook through the Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*NET OnLine. These resources help explore careers you can pursue with your major or interest. It may also help to consider the population(s) you may be working with, the setting(s) will you be in, educational requirements, etc.
Once you have an idea about a major/career you are interested in pursuing, schedule an appointment with a career advisor.
Hope Miller, coordinator of career and curriculum development, specializes in advising students who are still exploring majors. “Many students want to just jump right in and choose a major. But by doing that they tend to skip the most vital part of the major exploration process: the self-reflection and self-discovery phase. It is so important for students to know their values, interests, personality and skills, before choosing a major.” Career advisors are well-suited to help you with the exploration process.
Career Resource Guide
Visit the Career Center’s Career Resource Guide. The very first chapter is about academic and career exploration and specifically highlights how to choose a major, utilize informational interviews, move through the career process, and take advantage of the keys to academic and career success.
Career Choice class
If you are still indecisive or anxious about choosing a major/career path, then IDS 106: Career Choice is for you. This one-credit hour course reserved for sophomores and juniors provides tools for students to discover their values, interests, and skills. IDS 106 provides extensive resources and individualized attention for each student to successfully select an academic program that fits with your personality.
“This class helped me find my new major. I was completely lost and then I met a human resource professional (through the course) and found my career path,” said junior Taylor Denby, who took this class and later became an IDS 106 teaching assistant says, “I will always be grateful for IDS 106.”
Career does not equal major
There’s a stigma that your major must be directly related to your career path. While this may often be the case, students frequently find themselves in careers that they did not major in during college. Employers are often looking for the transferable skills and experiences that you gained during your time in school, which you can carry over and use at their company.
Penny Darnall, a human resource manager for Cintas, said, “It’s not important at all which major our applicants come in with. We have employees with majors in history and finance, they are all successful with different majors. We can teach anyone anything and really care about the 3 P’s: personality, passion, and potential.”
Remember, you do not need to feel pressured about what to choose to major in. You will not be “stuck in it” for the rest of your life. While some students come in with an idea of what they want to do, many do not. So you are not alone. Choosing a major can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Take advantage of these career resources and you are sure to find success.
Hannah Belke is a second-year graduate student and is serving as Career Center graduate assistant for career and curriculum development. Connect with her on LinkedIn.