You’ve finally made it to college. Your applications, essays and test scores are behind you, and it’s time to focus on this new chapter in your life! Only now instead of worrying about where you’ll be accepted, you have to worry about what you’re going to study. The cheesy “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question doesn’t seem so cheesy now. You know you like working with animals, but do you want to do that every day? Archaeology also sounds kind of interesting . . . is archaeologist veterinarian a career? If you have no idea where to begin on your college journey, check out these tips on how to get started and feel a little less lost.
Make an appointment with your Career Services team. This seems like an obvious place to start, but many college students don’t set foot in their Career Services office until they’re 30 credits deep into a degree they’re not passionate about. The sooner you can sit down with a career counselor, the better. Your advisor will likely offer you an aptitude test to evaluate your personality, interests, skills and values. From there, you’ll be matched with a variety of career fields that can narrow down your search. You might also want to consider questions like: What classes did you do well in during high school? What did you want to be as a kid? What can you see yourself doing every day? Your career counselor will guide you in answering these questions to point you in the right direction.
Read job descriptions. This may be a more tedious task, but if you take the time to read the job descriptions of positions you might be interested in, you can decide if that role is something you can see yourself doing on a day-to-day basis. Will you like working in an office, or do you need a more varied work environment? Zoology seems like a fun and exciting field, but are you up for the physical and demanding labor that comes along with it? At the end of the day, your major is a pathway to your career. Take the time to decide if that career will be right for you after you leave the classroom.
Shadow a professional in the field. Once you’ve started to narrow down your search, it might be helpful to shadow someone who is actively involved in your field of interest. If you’re having trouble deciding between accounting and medicine, reach out to someone in each of those professions to shadow them for a day or two. This goes beyond reading a job description and puts you in a real-life scenario for your future position. Your Career Services team can likely assist you in setting up a mentorship if you need assistance.
Reach out to your academic advisor. If you’re interested in pursuing a certain major, it’s essential that you figure out how this new academic plan will affect your college career. What classes will you need to take? Does this affect your graduation timeline? Will your financial aid package be affected? Getting ahead on this process will save you a lot of trouble down the road and keep you on top of your academic roadmap.
Explore a major with an introductory class (or three!). While being an undeclared student may give you some justified feelings of anxiety, it’s also a great way to explore what’s out there! Register for an intro course if you think something sounds even a little interesting. It might just be your future career path. Introductory courses are designed to pique your interest and guide you on your academic journey. Your degree audit likely requires several elective credits and general education courses, so take advantage of this opportunity to explore a variety of possible fields.
At the end of the day, remember that college is all about self-discovery! If you’re not 100 percent sure where you want to be in five years, that’s absolutely okay. Take the next four years to figure it out, and don’t rush yourself. With the right support and plan in place, your roadmap will naturally unfold.
If you’re already a USF Sarasota-Manatee student, our career advisors are here for you! Schedule an appointment today.