James S.

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Should I choose a major(s) based on what career I want to pursue, or choose a career based on the major(s) that interest me?

I am still unsure about future career paths and declaring majors and am in need of some guidance. #college #college-major #career-counseling #career-choice #higher-education #college-majors #undecided

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Good Afternoon James,

My name is Jason, and I work at Google in University Programs, and previously in career services at Stony Brook University. There is no one way to decide on a career, and you could look at it from both angles.

Should I choose a major based on the careers I want to pursue? Some basic questions to consider: What can I see myself doing for a while? What steps can I take to get there? What majors make the most sense? (e.g. Software Engineer, internships/research/hackathons, computer science/computer engineering)

Should I choose a career based on my major? Basic questions: What majors am I interested in? From these majors, what career options can they ultimately culminate in? Which career do I most see myself as? (Psychology/Pre-med, Psychiatrist/Therapist/Social Worker/Counselor)

Looking at your question from both angles can help you find out what to major in AND what career you want to go for. Even if your school does not offer a certain major, each career has a certain umbrella of majors that fit the bill. For instance, if Finance interests you, you can study Business/Finance, but Mathematics and Statistics also fit under that. There are many paths to various careers, it all depends on what you are interested in. Conducting both online research, and connecting with peers and professionals who share your interests can help you on this path to self-discovery. Use your career services at school and spend some time poking around online, and taking notes!

That being said, pursuing a major is just one one of the things to think about when thinking about a career. There are things like internships and networking that go a long way (especially internships). You can learn all you want in a classroom, but having experience in real world applications will make you a stronger candidate when you are looking for that first post-college job. This was very true for me pursuing a double major in business and psychology because in the classroom, I learned a lot about many different facets of both disciplines, but working in a specific field of my interest helped me understand what was required of me to know/do and later focused my path to where I am today.

Hope that helped, and please let me know if you have other questions!

Last updated Jan 27 '17 at 16:37

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I will answer your question with another question: why don't you think you have to choose between the career you pursue and what interests you?

Your career should be something you enjoy. That's the goal anyway: if you find a job that you love, you'll never work a day in your life. Can't remember who said that.

If you're deciding between poetry and medicine, there is no magic ball to tell you that you'll one day be a Pulitzer Prize winning poet.

Even if you do all the research in the world about each major and the possible career paths available, you still won't know what the future holds.

I'm almost 40 and I still don't know how pursuing the major that interested me is going to pan out. Others are more fortunate and are reaping the rewards of their choice immediately.

I say, don't think that this decision will irrevocably chart the course of your entire life. Just because you're pre-med doesn't mean you won't one day be a novelist. Just because you major in art history doesn't mean you won't become a lawyer.

Four years is a long time to study something just because you think it'll be good for you career wise.

You gotta love it. You have to be excited about it. You have to want to meet people who share your interest. College can be lots of fun, in and out of the classroom.

Last updated Jan 29 '17 at 21:22

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Hi James!

The ideal situation is to become involved in a career area that enables you to enjoy what you are doing and feel that you are making a contribution and feel fulfilled.

Here are some exercises that might help to identify what might help you to make a decision: https://www.themuse.com/advice/14-free-personality-tests-thatll-help-you-figure-yourself-out

When you find something that looks interesting, to learn more you can: - talk to your school counselor about participating in coop, intern, shadowing, and volunteer programs to learn what people do in those areas, how they got there, what advice they have, and how you feel about it - talk to the head of alumni relations at your school to arrange to meet and visit graduates of your school who are working in you areas of interest to learn more. - talk to the reference librarian at your local library to locate and attend meetings of professional organizations to which professionals in those areas belong so you can mix and mingle. These organizations are open to inquiry and participation of students.

Here are some tips on networking, which will allow you to learn valuable information and create valuable relationships: http://www.wikihow.com/Network https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations

Looking for a career is like buying a pair of shoes. They may look great, but you need to try them on and walk in them for a while to determine proper fit and comfort.

Best of luck! Let me know if and how this might be of help. Keep me posted. I would like to follow your progress.

Last updated Jan 27 '17 at 15:35

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Choose career based on what interests you.

Also, keep in mind, your interest will change as you learn new things. It's important to be focused on whatever you choose. At the end of the day, you have got to be able to feed yourself and your family....depending upon your situation.

;-)

Last updated Jan 27 '17 at 16:34

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