“What do you want to do when you grow up?” This is the age-old question…
If you haven’t identified your dream career, making any college decisions can feel daunting. In reality, most junior and seniors in high school don’t have any idea what they want to pursue as a career. Even those that think they have an idea, are likely to change their minds. Exploring options and finding careers that fit your interest, personality, and abilities requires some strategy. So how do you find that right major…perfect job…dream career? Here’s a start:
4 steps to finding the right major
- Assess what subjects interest you. You might know this instinctively, but there also assessments you can take for some extra guidance. Reach out to your counselor for more information Your grades don’t always reflect your love for the subject, so seek out information beyond the classroom.
- Search for “bright outlook” careers. The Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net Online are both great sources. These websites provide tons of information on careers and job outlook. Give yourself time to explore and discover what your dream career might be.
- Look at jobs that seem interesting to you. Read and research in any ways you can. Get online, talk to professionals, read books. People who are happy with their jobs love to talk about it. Those are the people you want to learn from.
- Shadow people. Spend a few hours or a couple of days shadowing someone who is in the field you think you might like. A good shadowing mentor will allow you to ask questions and will also explain their work as they go about their day. Some areas, such as health careers, are difficult to shadow because of privacy issues, but if you ask, you’ll find some worthwhile alternatives. Your parents, guidance counselor, or admission coach can help you set up shadowing opportunities.
Ask your mentors and other professionals in the jobs you like what majors they recommend. Many people will tell you the pros and cons of the major they chose. They can help you understand how versatile certain majors can be. You can also find lots of information on the websites of the professional associations related to particular fields, for example, the American Physical Therapy Association or the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Get started researching early. Give yourself time to find a variety of reliable sources. You also want to make sure you take the time to reflect on your own interests and evaluate what the information you’re learning means for your dream career.
Discovering a career and choosing a major is a journey and a process. It takes work. There are many people who can help: guidance counselors, career counselors, and independent educational consultants (IECs). My College Planning Team’s College Search and Selection Team want to guide individual students and their families in the total college search and selection process, which includes discovering your dream career.