Choosing your educational path is an important life decision that will impact your future career opportunities and earnings potential. With countless degree options available, it can feel overwhelming trying to decide what to study.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Focus on matching your natural strengths and interests to potential careers when choosing a major. Consider job growth, salary, and work environment. Get experience through internships and talk to people in your desired field.
In this approximately 3000 word article, we will guide you through the process of determining what you should study in school. We’ll provide tips on how to align your degree with your skills, interests, and desired career path.
We’ll also look at tools to research job prospects, earnings, and satisfaction in different fields. You’ll learn how to get real-world experience and insider advice to make sure you choose the right program.
Assessing Your Interests, Skills and Values
Personality and Career Tests
When trying to decide what to go to school for and choosing the right degree and career path, it’s important to start by assessing your interests, skills, and values. One helpful tool to aid in this process is taking personality and career tests.
These tests can provide valuable insights into your strengths, preferences, and potential career matches. They can help you identify careers that align with your personality and interests, giving you a starting point for further exploration.
There are various online resources and websites that offer free or paid personality and career tests. Some popular options include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Strong Interest Inventory, and the Holland Code test.
These tests typically involve answering a series of questions about your preferences, strengths, and work style. The results can provide you with a clearer understanding of your personality traits and how they relate to different career paths.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that these tests are not definitive answers, but rather tools to help guide your decision-making process. Consider them as a starting point for self-reflection and further exploration of potential career options.
Making a Skills/Interests List
Another useful exercise in assessing your interests, skills, and values is making a list of your skills and interests. Take some time to reflect on the activities and subjects that genuinely interest you and make you feel excited.
Consider the skills you have developed over the years, both through formal education and personal experiences. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if you think it may not be directly related to a specific career path.
Once you have your list, look for patterns or common themes. Are there any skills or interests that stand out? Do you notice any connections between your interests and potential career fields? This exercise can help you uncover hidden passions or skills that you may not have considered before.
It can also serve as a reminder of the things you truly enjoy and want to incorporate into your future career.
Identifying Priorities: Salary, Passion, Work Environment
When choosing the right degree and career path, it’s important to consider your priorities. Everyone has different values and goals, so what may be important to one person may not be as significant to another. Three common factors to consider are salary, passion, and work environment.
- Salary: If financial stability and earning potential are important to you, consider careers that offer competitive salaries and growth opportunities. Research the average salaries for different professions to get an idea of the earning potential in your chosen field.
- Passion: If you want to pursue a career that aligns with your passions and interests, prioritize careers that allow you to work in areas that excite you. Think about what makes you come alive and consider how you can incorporate that into your future career.
- Work Environment: Consider the work environment that suits you best. Do you thrive in a fast-paced, dynamic setting, or do you prefer a more structured and predictable work environment? Think about the type of workplace culture and atmosphere that will bring out your best.
Remember, finding the right degree and career path is a personal journey. It’s important to take the time to assess your interests, skills, and values, and consider your priorities. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and aspirations.
Researching Degree Options and Job Outlooks
When it comes to choosing the right degree and career path, conducting thorough research is crucial. One of the first steps in this process is narrowing down the fields of study that align with your interests and skills.
Consider what subjects you excel in or are passionate about, and explore different degree options within those areas. This can help you find a degree program that not only offers a solid education but also keeps you engaged and motivated throughout your studies.
Narrowing Down Fields of Study
There are various ways to narrow down your fields of study. You can start by talking to professionals who are already working in the industries you’re interested in. They can provide valuable insights into the day-to-day realities of their jobs and help you determine if a particular field is the right fit for you.
Additionally, attending career fairs or informational sessions can give you a chance to explore different industries and ask questions directly to experts in the field.
Examining Expected Job Growth
Another important factor to consider is the expected job growth in the field you’re considering. Research job outlooks and employment projections to get a sense of the demand for professionals in that industry.
Websites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provide data on job growth rates, which can help you make an informed decision. Look for fields with positive job growth trends, as this indicates a higher likelihood of finding employment after graduation.
Comparing Salaries and Earnings Data
While passion and interest are important, it’s also essential to consider the earning potential of different careers. Research and compare salary data for the occupations you’re interested in. Websites like Payscale and Glassdoor can provide insights into industry-specific salaries, allowing you to make a more informed decision.
Keep in mind that salaries can vary based on factors such as location, level of experience, and education level, so consider these factors when comparing earning potentials.
Assessing Day-to-Day Work Realities
Lastly, it’s crucial to assess the day-to-day work realities of the careers you’re considering. This can involve job shadowing, internships, or speaking with professionals in the field. Understanding the tasks, responsibilities, and challenges associated with a particular career can help you determine if it aligns with your interests and strengths.
It’s important to have a realistic view of what your future career entails to ensure long-term satisfaction and success.
Gaining Real-World Experience and Insights
One of the best ways to gain real-world experience and insights in your chosen career field is through informational interviews. These interviews allow you to connect with professionals who are already working in the industry and gain valuable insights into their day-to-day responsibilities, challenges, and successes.
You can ask questions about their educational background, career path, and any advice they have for someone just starting out. Informational interviews can provide you with a realistic understanding of what it’s like to work in a particular field and help you make informed decisions about your future.
Informational interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video calls. You can reach out to professionals in your desired field through LinkedIn, professional organizations’ websites, or personal contacts.
Be sure to prepare a list of thoughtful questions beforehand and approach the conversation with a genuine curiosity to learn. Remember, professionals are usually willing to share their experiences and insights with aspiring individuals.
During the informational interview, ask about the skills and qualifications required for success in the field, the current job market, and any specific challenges or trends that you should be aware of.
Take notes and ask for recommendations on additional resources, such as books, articles, or websites, that can help you further explore the industry. Remember to express your gratitude for their time and follow up with a thank-you email or message afterwards.
Internships and Volunteering
Internships and volunteering opportunities are another excellent way to gain real-world experience and insights. These experiences allow you to work alongside professionals in your chosen field and get a firsthand glimpse into the industry.
Whether it’s a summer internship, a part-time position during the academic year, or volunteering at a non-profit organization, these opportunities can provide valuable hands-on experience that can complement your academic studies.
Internships and volunteering also allow you to build a network of contacts and mentors who can guide you in your career journey. They can provide you with recommendations, introduce you to potential employers, and offer valuable advice based on their own experiences.
Additionally, internships and volunteering experiences often look impressive on your resume and can give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs after graduation.
Talking to Your School’s Career Center
Your school’s career center is a valuable resource that is often underutilized by students. The career center can provide guidance, resources, and connections to help you explore different career paths and make informed decisions about your education and future.
They can help you identify your strengths, interests, and values, and match them with potential career options.
The career center can also assist with resume building, interview preparation, and job search strategies. They may have access to job boards, internship databases, and alumni networks that can help you find relevant opportunities in your field of interest.
Make sure to schedule appointments with career advisors to discuss your goals, ask questions, and seek advice. They can provide personalized guidance and support throughout your educational journey and beyond.
Choosing what to study is a big decision, but following the steps in this article will help you make the right choice based on your individual personality, goals and career aspirations. Taking the time to deeply understand your interests and options will ensure you pick a rewarding degree path that leads to a satisfying career after graduation.