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What personally helped you decide what major/career to pursue?

I'm a high school senior who still is not sure of what major/career to pursue and would really appreciate guidance and personal experience about when and how you decided on your path. #career #career-counseling #career-development #job #careers #changing-careers #expert #advice #career-paths #career-path #career-choice #growing-jobs #undecided #confused #needhelp #major #majors #decidingmajor #college-major #choosing-major
#doctor #computer #computer-science #engineering #nursing #nurse #registered-nurses #lawyer #accounting #business #psychology #environmental-science #real-estate #teacher #teaching #education #marketing #social-work

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Sarah’s Answer

Hi Mireia,

When I started college I was not sure what I wanted to do either and I didn't choose my major until my sophomore year after I had a chance to take different classes. If you're not sure what you want to do, I would recommend going to a school that has many different programs and classes, so you would have the opportunity to try different things. If you have a few ideas of what you want to do, I would also suggest trying to get a job or internship in one of those fields so that you can get a better idea of what the work would actually be like.

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your expert advice! Mireia
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Scott’s Answer

Interesting question because of the inclusion of the word "personally:" There are many factors that help decide which major/or career to pursue, but few are what I would call personal. I personally wanted to make money, and a lot of it. Personally, I disliked biology and all careers related, but I really liked language arts. Consequently, I set my sights on being a lawyer.


My father intervened, refusing to finance any effort toward a degree that would support law. This was personally OK, because I also happened to be pretty good at chemistry, physics, and math, and chemical engineers make money. For better or worse, the more I learned about the subject, the less I liked it. Upon graduation, I personally could not stand chemical engineering but had no idea what career to pursue. After a little professional career counseling, I learned that people with science backgrounds that also had language skills are quite rare and that one could successfully combine the two in a chemical sales career.


So, as you see, the major you choose (or you're forced to choose) may have no relationship to whatever career you have! More important is to have as large a skill-set as possible to keep your options open.

Thank you comment icon Thank you for your insights! Mireia
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Andrei’s Answer

Hello Mireia,
I was in kindergarten when a jet fighter flew over the playground, and instantly I knew that I wanted to work with airplanes. I started to build models and read everything I could about aircraft and just followed that career.
My parents kept pushing me into a medical career, but I gag at the site of blood and can't stand hospitals. That would not have been a situation for me.
I was one of the few lucky exceptions that discovered what I wanted to do early on. This is not the typical experience for most, so don't feel like you did something wrong. I know a lot of people that are in their 40's and still can't decide. I envy some of those, because they keep trying different things.
Start asking yourself "what you like" and "what your strengths are". Try to visualize where would you like to go and what you would like to do. Think of it as planning a road trip, once you have a destination, you can plan a best route to get there. Don't be afraid to try some things. You can start college with basic academics, and settle on a major later. Try some internships or volunteer in places of interest to see if that may be something you want to pursue. Talk to, or research different things, eventually something will come up. Remember that "Sometimes you choose a career, and sometimes the career chooses you".
Good luck.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your advice! What an amazing quote! Mireia
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Megan’s Answer

I remember when I was in 6th grade we had to prepare a presentation on what we wanted to be and I had absolutely no idea so I picked a career counselor! At this point in your life, I would worry less about what you want to "do" and think more about identifying the things that you like. For some of us this is harder than it sounds. Pay attention to the articles in the paper that peak and then hold your interest. What types of things do you search for on the Internet that you find interesting? Take some classes in areas you would never think to take (and try to ignore whether the professor is good or bad, what do you think about the subject?).

Also pay attention to what you don't like and what doesn't keep your interest. If you're bored halfway through a news article on a particular topic, you're probably not going to want to think about it in a job for 8-10 hours everyday. When you hang out with friends, are there topics that they are interested in that bore you to tears? Paying attention to those kinds of things can really help eliminate potential areas.

It's also helpful to think about what how you might want to live your life. Do you like the idea of working in lab? Do you want to travel a lot (keeping in mind travel for work is very different from traveling for fun)? Do you want to be in an office or outside? Do you like a set schedule or do you like lots of flexibility? If you know some of this, it can help you narrow some options.

Finally, keep in mind it's a journey. Very few people have one job. You will try many things, some you'll like, some you won't and you'll learn and adjust based on those experiences. Enjoy being a student now and use this time to experiment. You'll stumble onto something, I promise.



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Wayne’s Answer

Mireia, I was interested and really enjoyed physics, chemistry and math in high school. I started my college career as a Physics major but when I started talking to some of the other students and professors in the department, I realized that even though I enjoyed it, I did not have the passion necessary to do the work needed. I changed my degree to Chemistry my second semester and again, after talking to my fellow students, professors and councilors in the department, found again that I did not have the passion necessary. All this time I was taking math classes as a minor. When I started my Sophomore year, I changed to a general science degree. This worked well until I talked to some students who grew up on ranches. I had personally grown up on a farm with a few cows, horses, chickens, pigs and goats. I realized that I had really enjoyed working with the animals even though I had fought it while I was at home. I then made the decision to change my degree to agriculture which required me to change my college. I gave up my math minor because again, I did ok, but didn't have a passion for numbers.

In short, I graduated with a degree in Animal Science. Found out I was allergic to animal dander. Taught a meat cutting class at the college and really loved it. I got a job at a meat market and became the assistant manager. Got laid off, started a sales job for food products, found I hated sales, got a job working for a food distribution company and became the operations manager. I got experience driving trucks for this company and found I hated driving large trucks (too nerve wracking). I left that job and got a job as an auto parts distribution center receiving supervisor. I learned to supervise all aspects of the distribution center and when that company went out of business, I was recommended for a job at a Wal-Mart distribution center. I was the shipping manager for that facility, moved to managing the new store setup team and then moved to an order filling manager role. I had to move my family so I left there and got a job as a quality control tech for a food manufacturing facility. I became the traffic manager arranging transportation for our products nationwide. I then got promoted to the quality control manager for one of the other facilities and moved my family again. I did that until I got laid off again. I got a job with a computer company in the manufacturing factory until that company went out of business. I got a job at a laminating company in the R&D department creating and testing laminate material for desks, tables, etc. I kept looking and got a job at the company I am currently working for which is a high tech computer manufacturer and I've been here for 20 years.

My Animal Science degree provided the foundation for all I have done in my career and change has been a constant in my journey. Success has been measured in the skills I gained along the way and the fact that I was able to find something I enjoyed.

Your journey will be what you make it. Don't be afraid of change. A career is not a destination but a life long journey. Enjoy the trip! Good luck in whatever you do.

Wayne recommends the following next steps:

Identify your passion and look for opportunities in that area (athletics, science, math, social science, literature, art, etc.)
Get "Strengths Finder 2.0" from Amazon or local book store
Take the survey and identify your strengths
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Jabari’s Answer

I selected a career that I was interested in, believed that I had an aptitude for, and that I believed would allow me to earn the type of living that I wanted. Having said that, my answers to those questions were one thing at 18, another at 25, and something entirely different now. Don't be surprised if your answers change, too. Be prepared to adapt to changing life and personal circumstances.
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Norbert’s Answer

Everything is a journey and the answer will come. What helped me to choose my major in college was my strength and career growth and as well as opportunities that my major offered after college. I wanted to do something that I knew I would enjoy enough and also make a living. I knew in high school, I was good at Math, Science. Therefore, engineering was the way to go.
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Dennis’s Answer

I went into engineering because I wanted to be a problem solver. I wasn't sure what major so I started with electrical engineering but went into the co-op program (internship) my sophomore year to experience engineering jobs. This opened my eyes to software engineering and I changed my major so if you are not sure, try several avenues to decide.
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Al Fernando’s Answer

Hi Mireia,
Mine was based on a need that then developed in a career plan path over time.
I needed to make money and I had a set of skills that were transferrable to Sales. I got in and learned as much as I could. It so happened that eventually my values and my career in sales aligned. Helping my teams to achieve their objectives, helping my customers to be successful, coaching, mentoring, achieving targets, working towards a vision and goal and also achieving my financial goals.

What I'd say is lean towards what you love. If you start on a path that you realise that you don't enjoy, take the learnings and skills and change direction. It's never too late.
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Desiree’s Answer

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do even after I graduated college. I chose a major that I was interested in and allowed me to have the freedom to choose from various job types (Communication). I also minored in English Literature because I enjoyed those classes very much. I worked for various fashion companies for about 10 years and ended up in Banking right after the 2008 crash (fashion/luxury took a huge hit then). While in banking I worked as a teller and eventually worked my way into Commercial Lending where I found my passion and wanted to learn more. I became a sponge, utilized my company's tuition reimbursement program, took night classes in Accounting, and finished their credit training program several years ago. Now, 12 years later, I'm still an underwriter (Accounting/English) and love what I do. That's my career story.

Good luck.
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Jessica’s Answer

Hi Mireia,
I was actually in the same boat as you my senior year of high school. I knew I would be attending college, but I just wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to do. Think about what you like to do and what you are good at. I've always been great at building relationships and being around people, so I decided to go to school for Hotel and Restaurant management. I still wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I began taking different types of classes. I stumbled upon a wine appreciation class, and from there fell in love. I took an internship with my company and am currently working for a same beverage distributor and have been with the company for 8 years.

The best advice is to find something you love to do and research careers around that, but also don't worry if you end up changing your mind down the road.

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Michael’s Answer

Great question! When I started College I was not sure what I wanted to do. During the first year you will have prerequisites that you will have to take. During this time I also took some additional classes in different fields to see which ones that I really enjoyed. From here I was able to make my decision and that was the path that I took. Also, during your summers I would try to find some different internships that you might be interested with. This could maybe help you narrow your search or even place you in the right field that you would like to peruse. Hope that this helps!
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Kristine’s Answer

Funnily enough, what helped me decide what to major in college is working a career in another field. It not only helped me realize i want more, but also helped me realize what i was good at
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Doug’s Answer

One thing that really helped me in choosing my major and career path was having great mentors. Your mentors can be your family members or teachers or coaches. I have had several mentors in my life and they have come from different places. It's always great to have people in your life that you can go to for advice who can provide you with great input. I would suggest you choose a major that includes something you personally enjoy, a passion that you have but I would also seek out advice of advisors that you trust who can hopefully help you.

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Alisha’s Answer

I enjoyed playing with computers, taking them apart and putting them back together, fixing them. If you have a passion for something or really enjoy something then why not get paid for it. After doing research I learned that there were so many options available for me career wise, I knew that I would not get bored or stale, that there were so many opportunities.
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Ranna’s Answer

For me it was a major industry trend - which was Computers at the time and the internet was just becoming a trend in the technology industry. I only had a rudimentary knowledge of what computers were and I have an inquiring mind and love to learn so I decided to do a Computer Science degree. It's been 3 decades and its been one great ride as I have learned so much and am still teaching as the technology has changed so much from when I started learning about computers and with the internet being the center of everything now it is evolving everyday!

It is amazing as there are so many areas to explore in this field. I loved it then and I am still loving it as I continue to learn everyday!

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