Career Planning Tips for Choosing Your Major

career planning tips

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  • There are those fortunate among us who seem to have everything mapped out perfectly.

    Our peers who apparently have all their ducks in a row; they’ve planned the path to their major, and not only know exactly what their ambitions are, but also how to get there.

    What many students don’t realize is that those people are in the minority – most of us have very little idea of how our future should look.

    As you start to make decisions about going to college or university, there will be a lot of people in your life who express opinions — family members, community leaders, teachers, even your friends. It can be confusing; a situation made somewhat more difficult by the seemingly constant news stories about economic changes, and how technological shifts in the world are making certain industries almost obsolete. Not to mention that you already know that the things you find interesting right now may not be the same as those that will keep you engaged in the future.  

    Don’t panic. Apart from anything else, while choosing a major is an important step that will affect your path, no career choice you make necessarily means you are stuck doing that job for the rest of your life.

    However, to set yourself up with the best chance for a relatively smooth journey, it certainly behooves you to take a few useful preparatory steps

    Taking Stock of Yourself

    The first thing you should do is take the opportunity for some serious self-examination. While there are undoubtedly some solid ways in which you can prepare for a high paying career, you need to also consider whether a high salary is the most important element of a career.

    Is job satisfaction of greater importance? Perhaps you need a job that means you have the chance to make a serious difference to the world, maybe you need to be creative — or a mixture of these and more?

    Take this analytical step seriously. Once you’ve gathered a list of what is important to you, take an honest look at what your abilities are; yes, parents and teachers have told us from an early age that we’re capable of anything, but that’s not always quite accurate, is it? What do you excel in, what are you passionate about, what kind of activities do you throw yourself into naturally? 

    This self-assessment may not produce an immediately clear career plan, but it will provide you with a practical foundation to jump from. It’s also important to consider ways in which you might explore outside of your comfort zone — understanding your abilities is not necessarily an excuse to talk yourself down from ambitious plans. This self-assessment might provide you with some discussion points to take to a guidance counselor or career counselor, in order to start creating strategies to select a career direction, alongside the most appropriate major to pursue.

    Reviewing Industry Needs

    When you’re attempting to narrow your choice of majors, it can sometimes make you feel powerless. The idea that industries and institutions are opening or closing doors based on their educational requirements is daunting. However, there are certainly opportunities for you to take back control of the situation.

    Certain workforces, such as the nursing and healthcare industries are perennially in need of new members of staff. In part due to an aging population and an increase in chronic illnesses, the demand for nursing experts and innovators far outweighs the current supply. For those with a balance of emotional intelligence and scientific acumen especially, undertaking healthcare-related courses opens up fulfilling and exciting opportunities filled with emerging new disciplines and advances in technology.

    laptop computerdata analytics

    Data analysts also frequently review the job market to establish where industry demand might lie in the future. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, aside from healthcare, faster-than-average growth is being seen in computer science and media-related industries. Linking your choice of major to the likely growth areas may help to ensure that your skill set remains relevant as the market evolves. 

    Undertaking Practical Exploration

    It’s a difficult subject to broach, but when choosing a career path, it’s important to consider the financial practicalities, too. Performing your own rudimentary cost-benefit analysis on whether the career you’re entering warrants the expense you’ll accumulate is a responsible approach to take. Is it really necessary and practical for you to take a post-grad course, or can you build some momentum (and finances) in your chosen industry before committing to further education to bolster your expertise?

    Social media is a really useful tool to get opinions on this aspect of choosing your education progression. Industry leaders are far more accessible than they have ever been before, and are often open to providing advice to those interested in operating in their fields. Connect with them and engage in conversations about the practical issues you may have to prepare for — this also doubles up as a networking opportunity, with the possibility to build relationships that could be valuable in the future.

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    These explorations may also expose to you whether there is indeed a need to obtain a university major at all. For example, jobs in the creative industries — including film and animation — are often more interested in a portfolio of work as they are which university you attended. It’s a responsible move to take into account whether there may be other possibilities available to provide you with the required skills and experience, than gaining a major. 

    Conclusion

    A huge amount of pressure has historically been placed on students to choose the right major at the right university — or else they may suffer consequences. The truth is, life is not always that simple, and we often discover new, valuable possibilities by keeping an open mind and exploring widely. Yes, selecting a useful major certainly opens doors, but it’s important to remember that university is just one possible starting point of your path.

    Image Credit: Pixabay

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