What's your major?
If you’re heading to college this fall, everyone is probably asking you, “What's your major?”
I went into college knowing that I wanted a career in marketing. I attended Adel DeSoto Minburn High School (which is in the town where Kuder is headquartered in Iowa) and I used Kuder Navigator® and took the Kuder assessments several times between ninth and 12th grade. This process really helped me to confirm my career and education choices.
The assessments used my personal interests, skills confidence, and work values to give me a list of several career paths and occupations to explore. My Holland code (Enterprising/Conventional/Social, or ECS) showed me my “work personality” and helped me narrow down the types of work environments in which I would be most comfortable.
I was initially drawn to marketing as a college major after observing family members in careers that I could imagine myself doing. I saw many opportunities within that career path and decided it was for me before I went to college.
Some students head off to college without any idea of what they want to pursue for a major. My friend Sara, for example, is a liberal arts student at local community college. She took the Kuder assessments when she was well into her first year at college. Sara said, “the [Kuder] assessments are perfect for someone undecided like me to take. Showing me my Holland code helped me confirm some of the personality traits I hold, which are Social and Conventional. I was also able to look at a few career options. It revealed I might enjoy teaching and training or early childhood services.”
My friend Jeannie, a mathematics major, was more like me in that she had a discipline in mind when she was still in high school: “I was always interested in my major,” she said. “I think what made me commit to my major was the support I encountered from the professors in the department.”
Jeannie said her Kuder assessment results “did accurately show my interests in math and sciences as well as business.” Jeannie is spending her summer as a business intelligence intern, where she runs data analytics and does research, and said she's looking for opportunities to job shadow a variety of professionals so she can get a taste for the types of options she has with her major.
Reaching your potential.
Students tend to choose majors that match up with the careers that they know. A lot of students are familiar with majors such as business administration and management, nursing, general biology, general psychology, and teacher education. But there are so many more out there!
Choosing a major that best lines up with your personal interests can help you avoid making drastic career changes, and can help you achieve greater job satisfaction.
Kuder’s philosophy is that a student should select a career before determining an appropriate path for required education or training, which may or may not include a four-year degree.
If you're college-bound, here are some tips for choosing or confirming a choice of college major:
- Leverage resources on your college campus. Your college career center, advisor, course catalog, professors, classmates, college alumni, and even family and friends, are all good places to start.
- Narrow it down. Explore all of the courses offered within your major to find out which area you really want to focus in on or learn more about. Don’t be afraid to take a class that takes you outside your comfort zone. For example, I decided to minor in operations management after I took a legal environment business course that opened my eyes to the interrelationship between law and business, and I found myself wanting to build upon that knowledge.
- Road-test your major. Your major is just the first step in securing your dream career. Work-based learning in the form of internships or apprenticeships can help you get exposure to a field and narrow down career options. Having an internship at Kuder has allowed me to gain hands-on experience within my desired career and confirm that my major is the right one for me. My friend Sam is a college student who is spending his summer interning as a computer programmer. Sam said, “It’s helped me to gain experience with programming languages that I hadn’t been exposed to in my personal projects (mostly Java) or coursework (mostly Python). Experience with these different programming languages helps to broaden my skills and make myself more marketable for future job opportunities.”
Get serious about completing your major.
Your course load and academic requirements can be overwhelming at first, so it’s important to understand your deadlines and create a plan to accomplish your degree. Here are some year-by-year tips:
- Adjust to the new environment.
- Learn time management.
- Take general education classes.
- Join organizations that further your education.
- Find courses that interest you.
- Research major.
- Start resume and LinkedIn profile.
- Complete your basic coursework.
- Declare your major and/or minor.
- Establish your timeline for graduation.
- Plan for a more focused junior year.
- Apply for summer internship.
- Build upon your resume and LinkedIn profile.
- Focus more on your major.
- Take higher-level courses.
- Study more, it’s a difficult year.
- Apply for summer internships.
- Update and revise your resume.
- Job shadow careers in potential career.
- Focus year on major and minors.
- Possible Internships during school year.
- Study and take exit exams, if required.
- Revise resume and create reference page.
- Search and interview for jobs.