Monday, January 28, 2013

Quick activity to choose your major or career

As I recently shared in a review of the outstanding career book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, you don't have to have it all figured out in college.

But when it comes to choosing your major and career, the sooner you find some kind of direction, the better. It's okay if that direction changes (it probably will) but having it will propel you towards graduation. 

The key is to choose a major and future career path that matches your talents, interests, and economic need.

So below is a quick activity you can do right now to start to explore what this might be for you. I also highly recommend talking about this with a professor, career counselor, or professional mentor as soon as you can. 

1. Take a piece of paper and draw two lines so that you have three columns. 

2. In the left column, write "things I'm good at" and then list all of your skills and talents in that column. Think of your best subjects, the things people compliment you on, your people skills, your thinking skills - everything. Keep writing, no matter how long it takes, until you fill up the column. 

3. In the far right column, write "things that bring me joy" and then fill up the column with everything that brings you joy. Don't analyze; just write. It can be hobbies, interests, things you like to do in your free time - anything. Just think about when you feel most alive and happy, and write it all down.

4. In the center column, write "something people pay for" and then see if any of the things that bring you joy in the right column match your strengths in the left. Draw connecting lines between anything that seems like it could have a match, and then write on the line where they intersect (in the center column) what kind of jobs could match that talent and interest. Be creative, and consider how your skills and interests translate into doing something people would pay for. And then consider what major(s) would qualify you for that kind of job. 

5. Keep your list and don't feel like you have to fill up the middle column right away. You may only come up with one thing, or you may feel stumped. That's okay. The process is the important part, and it's a process you should continue throughout college. Continue to edit your list, and bring it to a mentor for advice. 

If you find your skill or interest column is lacking, let that be a reminder to build more skills (e.g. studying, reading) and try new things (e.g. volunteering, clubs, or internships) so that you can build your career capital and have even more options for your future career.

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