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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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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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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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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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Kelly’s Answer

Listen to your heart and follow your passion. It’s not about money , it’s about doing something that excites you. When you follow your heart. You’ll be successful at whatever you decide to do..!!
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Sarah’s Answer

1. Choose something you enjoy working on at Uni / College...
2. Research the potential earnings of the industry and roles.

I chose marketing as it was fun, creative and also the potential earning capacity was attractive.
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Joshua’s Answer

Great question! When I was at your age, I was undecided which career to pursue as well. I started with understanding which subjects I enjoyed most in school that leads me to choose the degree I wanted to pursue in university. During my degree, I exposed myself with many different projects be it a robot competition, internship programs, industrial projects and also lab work. This helps me to identify where my interest lies and ultimately my career choice.
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Vic’s Answer

I did not know at all that consulting is where I would end up at all. I grew up in an environment where women were not expected to take on roles like this. In college i broke away from that attitude and cultural construct and decided to take on leadership roles and that led me to consulting. I really enjoyed having jurisdiction and ownership of my work. I also really value being a lifelong learner and in this career its nearly impossible to not learn.
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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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Lola’s Answer

I am currently in public accounting working for one of the Big 4 firms. They way I learned that I want to purse a career in accounting field was when I was in the undergrad program in the business management program. At the time I wanted to go to Law school. After having conversations with attorneys, shadowing them, volunteering at a law firms I realized law was not something I wanted to pursue. However, I really enjoyed accounting courses and they made sense to me. After graduating I decided that I wanted to work in the industry and make sure that this is something that I was passionate about. Working in the real world helped me realize that yes, in fact, I want to pursue this career in the future and that's when I decided to pursue a graduate degree and entered public accounting. My advise would be, to try volunteer, work, and see if that's something that you envision yourself doing for the rest of your life. Hope this helps. Good luck!
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Jennifer Guzman’s Answer

I have been there! What really helped me was receiving guidance and feedback from my parents, but I also took a psychological career assessment that provided recommendations based on my preferences and responses. From the results, I selected the career I felt more excited about going for it. I am a firm believer you should study what you're real passionated about. There are 4 major types of career assessments to consider: personality tests, interest inventories, skills assessments and value assessments. All of these can be found via a career counselor.
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Aneree’s Answer

Thats a great question! For some people, they already have an idea of what they want to pursue before they even attend college. But a lot of people, like me, are unsure of what major they want to pursue. In this case, it is good to recognize your passions and see how they align with potential career opportunities. Taking myself as an example, I knew that I wanted to start my professional career as soon as possible and I wanted to pursue something that was lucrative and not too specialized allowing me the opportunity to easily transition into different workstreams. That is why I chose to pursue business, because it allowed me to earn a degree within 4 years and enabled me to qualify for an entry-level position right out of college. In addition, it allowed me to explore different fields within business and align my skill set to help me make a decision one what major to pursue within business.
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