Thinking about your future career is really exciting! There are so many possibilities, and the sky really is the limit.
Most students who enter college do not know for certain what they want to study or become, so there’s no great pressure for you to figure it out right away.
At most colleges you take two years of general education requirements and then declare your major and focus on one subject, and this works really well because during those first two years you are able to choose among the required courses so you have room and time to explore your interests.
Many students, when faced with thoughts of a future career, don’t really know where to start, so I always like to start at the beginning when having this conversation. Are you more of a math/science person
, or an English/history person? Or are you both? Then ask yourself, within my chosen “general area” of, say, math/science, am I more of a math person or more of a science person? Or am I both?
Once you know which area you’d likely want to focus on, go on Onetonline.org
(O-net) and read about various careers in the broad area that interests you. The O-net profiles will tell you what college major is required for you to pursue that career. You can then look at colleges to see if they offer those majors. Be sure the college you attend offers at least two majors that seem to interest you because most students change their majors and you want to be sure that you are at a college where there are subjects for you to study.
I suggest that you make a list of all of the careers that seem to interest you and then ask family, friends and teachers if they know anyone working in these jobs.
People in their careers are ALWAYS happy to talk to a young person and acquaint them with the particulars of what the career entails. I suggest you ask your friends to introduce you to these professionals, and then you contact the professional person and ask if you might meet them at their office or for coffee, to learn about what their job is like.
During the meeting you can ask questions like: what are the best parts of the job? Toughest parts? What did they major in? How did they get started? What kind of people are best suited for this work? What are the hours and stress like? What are average salaries? (Don’t ask them what they make; ask general questions.) Is continuing education necessary or helpful? Are any schools or programs particularly well known for this subject?
After the meeting be sure to send a thank you note
or email. This is called networking. It’s where you make a good business connection and then someday if they need you, they will reach out, or if you have another question for them, you can reach out. So be super polite and maintain a good connection by saying thank you.
You can have several or many of these meetings and people may even volunteer to allow you to see where they work for a few hours or a day, or they may be looking for an intern for the summer
–you never know. Career research like this really helps you choose your major–which saves you time and money!
We have a great career test on CollegeMapper that you can take to see which types of careers will fit best with your personality
. There are certain careers to fit every type of personality, so rest assured that a great, challenging, fulfilling job for you DOES exist. Just don’t stop asking questions until you find it!