How do I know what major or career to choose?
How do I know what the results of my choice will be?
No formula works for everyone. Here are some myths that you may have heard before:
TRUTH: On average people have 11 different jobs in their lifetime and often 2 or more different careers
TRUTH: 61% of UF students change their major by their sophomore year.
MANY factors that affect the major and career you choose. These factors include: the economy, chance, personality, skills, major, culture, location, values, family, interests and thousands of others. The choices you make will have an effect on your future.
What happens if I have to change my major?
What if I don't get into the grad school I want?
Each person has made different life choices and will have different interests.
TRUTH: Multiple majors teach transferable skills that are required foundations in many careers. Employers are increasingly interested in candidates with particular skills. You will notice many job listings with "all majors" selected."
TRUTH: Many students are unsure of their major and career when they enter college, many more successfully make changes to their career plans once they leave.
MANY factors lead to majors and careers. These factors can include the economy, chance, personality, skills, major, culture, location, values, family, interests and thousands of others. With so many factors, it is impossible to make 100% accurate future predictions about careers.
How do other people choose a career or major?
Why does it seem like I am the only one who does not know?
It is not possible to make a choice without taking a risk. Each time you make a choice, you rule out other possibilities and you open your life to unexpected events and changes. Unplanned events can seem negative, but let's look at examples of how a career path with unexpected twists and turns can turn out quite well!
Ben Stein graduated with an economics degree from Columbia University and a law degree from Yale. He started his career as a speechwriter and lawyer in the Nixon Administration. He later went to work as an economist, attorney, writer and columnist.
Ben is best known as a television personality. Following his speechwriting stint, he moved to California to pursue a career as a screenwriter. He was cast in the hit film Ferris Bueller's Day Off where he delivered his famous catch-phrase: "Bueller…Bueller… Bueller…" His film career expanded and he continued to write and appear in several films, TV commercials and even his own game show. Today, he continues to write and contributes to several news organizations, appears on TV and various commercials.
He continued to take risks throughout his career and focused on the skills he acquired in each job to lead him to the next opportunity.
Barbara Mertz, better known as the novelist Elizabeth Peters, is a prolific award-winning writer with over 60 titles. However, she spent the first decade of her life in a small Illinois town that fostered her early love of reading.
Her parents fed the young bookworm with literature like Mark Twain and Shakespeare, and after the family migrated to Chicago, the public library provided endless reading and a discovery of her love of history. Writing had never been on her radar, Barbara simply loved history and learning about the world outside of the mid-west.
After graduating from high school, she earned a scholarship at the University of Chicago studying archeology. Despite a passion for archeology, she found a slim job market for female Egyptologists after graduation and she started a family. Reading mystery novels became her vice during the early years of motherhood. She so enjoyed the stories she decided to try to write a mystery tale of her own. After three failed manuscripts and a move to Germany, a publisher pushed her into writing a different genre, and she returned to her first love: Archeology.
Barbara Mertz's first published work was a non-fiction work on Egypt, and despite the success of the book, she still had a desire to weave together a story of fictional mystery. A quarter of a century later, using the pseudonym Elizabeth Peters, she wrote several best-selling mystery novels set in Egypt and Middle East. The series success won her countless honors even a Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic.
Elizabeth Peters traveled a non-traditional path to literary success by majoring in archeology, while not becoming an archeologist as she intended, her love of research and rich historical knowledge gave her novels a dynamic and fresh perspective.
Jamie Hyneman, most recognized for his daring experiments on the popular Discovery Channel series Mythbusters began his career by purchasing a pet store fresh out of high school.
He quickly grew bored with his business venture and decided to try college. After discovering a foreign language requirement through a Bachelor's of Art, Jamie decided to pursue an interest in Russian Literature at Indiana University. He went on to study library science in graduate school but gave it up, moving to the Caribbean operating a charter sailboat, becoming a licensed Coast Guard captain and earned his divemaster rating.
After 4 years, he tired of the tropical lifestyle and moved to New York with his wife. He pursued a new interest in special effects. After 16 years of creating special effects for media outlets, the producer of a new television series, Mythbusters, approached Hyneman about joining the creative team. He viewed the career opportunity as a merger of his interests and the ability to try something new. The series is still thriving after seven seasons, and Jamie keeps the audience interested with his ever-evolving experiments. Jamie credits his career success on the commitment to follow his interests and letting the rest fall into place.
Jim received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard. He started a combined JD/MBA at Harvard, but he left to his program to gain a different type of experience. He worked as an instructor for Outward Bound for several years before returning to finish his degree.
He began work as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group for five years, before quitting to start his own brewery. His father was a brewer in Cincinnati and his great-great grandfather was a brewer in Germany. He took his great-great grandfather's recipe to a contract brewer and created Samuel Adams beer. Today Boston Beer Company generates a revenue over 450 million dollars and Jim Koch has continued his family brewing tradition.
Jim left a lucrative job at the consulting firm to pursue a family passion, while continuing to draw-upon his business and marketing skills to make his company a successful.
Juanita Kidd Stout
From a young age, Juanita always had a passion for music and an exceptional talent for playing the piano, along with a love of learning. After graduating high school, Juanita moved from her hometown in Oklahoma to Jefferson City, Missouri to attend Lincoln University, and eventually graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Iowa. She loved playing the piano so she focused her undergraduate studies on her earliest passion by majoring in music. After graduation, Juanita combined her passions and became a music teacher.
One day she casually mentioned to her husband, a military service member who was also pursuing a degree in higher education, that she always had a passion for law and the desire to become a lawyer. He put her through law school with his Military education stipend and Juanita earned her graduate law degree from Indiana University.
After cultivating a strong foundation as a lawyer, Juanita became the first African-American female judge in the United States. Juanita achieved this first but not last honor in her professional life, as she continued to make tremendous strides in educational reform and eventually landing on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Author: The New Yorker; "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference," (2000); "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" (2005); and several other best selling books.
Malcolm Gladwell grew up in Toronto, Canada and always wanted to become a lawyer. He received a degree in History from University of Toronto, Trinity College. In his last year of college, he decided to go into advertising, but was rejected from 18 advertising agencies.
He ended up being a writer by default. He said it took him forever to realize writing could be a job, because he considered writing fun. After college, he worked for six months at a small magazine in Indiana. Later, he moved to Washington D.C. to work as a freelance writer and eventually became a successful writer for the Washington Post, The New Yorker and eventually a best-selling author.
Although Malcolm was rejected from advertising, he saw that as an opportunity to pursue a career in writing which was his first choice.
Sally Ride made history as the first female astronaut, but the launch of her success is traced back to an initial passion for tennis and reading.
A California native, Sally was often found on the tennis court or reading a novel. She was a self-proclaimed poor student with no desire to focus on her classes. Tennis quickly became Sally's focus, eventually earning her a scholarship to attend a Los Angeles prep academy for high school. Even though her world was tennis, her junior year Physics class and teacher caught her interest. After graduation, she tried a professional tennis career, but found defeat that forced her to try out other career paths.
Sally decided to go to college and studied English and physics at Stanford University. The more she studied science, the more her passion grew for the subject, eventually leading her to earn a Master's and PhD in Physics and a career is aerospace.
Sally's lack of success as a professional tennis player, and a chance encounter with an inspirational teacher helped her to pursue degrees in physics, eventually leading to incredible accomplishments and contributions to both her professional field and society.
Get started by asking yourself these questions.
The most important thing you already know about is: YOU.
You have strengths, weaknesses, subjects you are interested in and people you enjoy working with.
Some people have difficulty describing themselves and their interests. Use our CHOMP program to help you find the words to describe yourself more effectively.
You can also learn many things about yourself by exploring ideas through writing, whether though journaling, blogging, tweeting or any other avenue that allows you to reflect on what you know about yourself. You can explore the constants in your life, your attractions or even the things you don't like – all are useful!
Take advantage of our Career Planning services. We can help you explore and discover your values, interests, personality and skills. We're here to help!
- UF Centers & Organizations: Center for Leadership & Service
- UF Student Organizations: Center for Student Activities & Involvement
- Mentoring & Interviewing: Informational Interviewing & Gator Launch
- Classes: Leisure Classes & Community College Classes
- Career Classes: Career Planning classes
- Full & Part-Time Jobs
- Internships, Externships & Co-ops
You can learn more about majors and careers that interest you by using services like CHOMP, My Plan, Occupational Outlook Handbook or O*Net. These services can introduce you to a world of options you can explore on your own.
We created a series of career roadmaps, grouped by areas of interest to assist you as you explore majors and careers, prepare for internships and start to search for opportunities.
Getting involved and taking risks is also a powerful way to learn more about your areas of interest. Opportunities are all around you, including:
Our Career Planning staff can help you explore and discover other ways to getinvolved to learn more about career and major options.
You don't know what you don't know.
This statement may sound silly, but it is true. Our life / career path is a combination of unplanned/random events and how we react to them.
Absolute prediction is impossible, so rather than striving for an unattainable idea of perfection, remain flexible in your plans and make room for unexpected opportunities. If we can only predict the weather only ten days out, imagine how hard it is to predict the rest of our lives.
Instead, point your efforts towards making general, long-term goals that allow for you to be flexible and make changes as needed. You can also make short term daily, weekly, month or even semester-length goals.
If you need some help answering these questions, request a Career Planning appointment. Our staff can help you set some direction and help talk through some of these unplanned or random events. We're here to help!
We'd be happy to help you further explore majors and careers. Request a Career Planning appointment and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.