“What do you want to do when you grow up?” This is the age-old question…
If you haven’t identified your dream career, deciding and major (and a college) can feel daunting. In reality, some teens have a solid idea of what they want in a career, but most really don’t. So, exploring options and finding careers that fit your interest, personality and abilities require some strategy.
So how do you find that right major/right job? Here’s a start:
4 steps to finding the right major
1. Assess what fields of study you love.
You know this instinctively, but in case you’re not sure, take a look at your Discover and PLAN assessments that you took early in high school. Your grades don’t always reflect your love for the subject, so seek out information beyond the classroom.
2. Search for “bright outlook” careers.
Good sources online for this are the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net Online, both websites that give tons of information on careers and job outlook. Give yourself time to explore.
3. Look at jobs that seem interesting to you.
Read and research in any ways you can. Online, in the world of work, everywhere.
4. Shadow people who work in jobs that you might like.
Spend a few hours or a couple of days just watching someone who is in the field you think you might like. Arrange to “shadow” them, which simply means that you will follow them on the job. 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 probably find some worthwhile alternatives.
Finding the Right Major
Ask your mentors and other professionals in the jobs you like what majors they recommend. You may be surprised at their answers. You can also find lots of information on the websites of the professional associations related to the career fields, for example, the American Physical Therapy Association or the Association of Electrical Engineers.
Take Time for Thorough Research
Give yourself some time because you are seeking information from a number of resources. Also, you want to take the time to get to know yourself and reflect on and evaluate the new information you’re learning.