Students often experience some uncertainty about their majors or careers. In fact 50% of students change their majors once between their freshmen to senior years. Of course, students would prefer to make these changes sooner rather than later in their college years. The Counseling Center can help you with this as we have a battery of career tests FREE of charge that you can take to explore your values, interests, skills and personality and find the major and career that best fits you. We also offer a survey that is highly predictive of whether a student will change their career choice. We encourage you to take the survey to help guide your career choices and learn about the stages of career development by clicking on the tabs associated with this information.
How do I I know if I have chosen the right major and career for me?
Selecting a major and career is exciting but also sometimes stressful. The Counseling Center offers individual counseling services to help you to better navigate your career path. You can take a battery of career tests for FREE, explore the results with a counselor and ascertain your next steps. There are also some free career exploration assessments available to students on this website such as Take the Survey, 16 personalities, a shorten form of the Myers-Briggs Interest Inventory and SIGI 3 that can assist students with their career exploration.
Stages of Career Development
Understanding and going through the processes outlined in the stages of career development will also assist you in choosing an appropriate major and career. People have many careers in their life times and so find that they will go through these stages throughout their lives.
Stage 1: Self-Assessment
How well do you know what you want in your career? Have you explored your:
- Values: Career values are things such as salary, prestige, advancement opportunities, work-life balance, location and other factors. What is most important to you?.
- Interests: Some example of career interests are areas such as business, helping others, art, science etc. Do you know your career interests?
- Personality: Some careers are more social while others are more independent or may work with technology. Some careers require people to be more precise, detailed and organized while others play to strengths of looking at the big picture and being adaptable and spontaneous. How does your personality fit with your career choice?
- Skills: While you may be interested in a career, do you have the skills required to be successful in this area? For example if the career requires strong math skills, is this in your skill set or can you develop this skill?
The Counseling Center offers a battery of career tests that can assess your values, interests, personality and skills and suggest careers that match you. SIGI 3 also offers these same assessments and will list careers that fit what you are looking for in a career and has a data base of information about these careers.
Stage 2: Career Exploration
Once you are aware of what are looking for in a career, you need to explore careers to see if they have these qualities. For example does the career you are considering offer the job security, challenge, ability to help others or flexible work hours that are important to you? Students sometimes have career myths, meaning that they are attracted to or repelled from careers based upon misinformation. We receive images of how a career might be from movies, television and other sources that may not realistic or reliable. It is important to thoroughly research your career choice before committing to it to ensure it is what you think. In addition, it is helpful to investigate employment trends such as is this a growing or declining field? Will there be job openings for me in the future?
Here are some helpful resources to help students find career information:
- SIGI 3 - a data base of information about careers (SIGI3 is located under Additional Tools)
- Job Shadowing-shadow a professional in the career
- Informational interviewing—talk to a professional in the field
- O*Net on-line - O*NET Online has detailed descriptions of the world of work and is updated yearly by the US Department of Labor.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook - The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) provides information on what workers do; the work environment; education, training, and other qualifications; pay; the job outlook; information on state and area data; similar occupations; and sources of additional information, for 324 occupational profiles updated by the US Department of Labor.
- Career Center - Ball State University Career Center for assistance with resume writing, interviewing, job search and part-time and full time jobs and internships.
Stage 3: Make a Decision
How do you make a career decision? Often parents, teachers, friends and coworkers give their advice and opinions on what you should choose for a career. It may seem like an overwhelming decision, and difficult to make on your own. The staff at the Counseling Center can help you to sort through the career information and self-assessment and work with you to find the career you want to pursue. We can help you understand your decision making style and the steps to making a career decision. Remember this decision is not set in stone and many people change career s throughout their lives.
Stage 4: Implementing Your Career Decision
Once you have made your career decision, how do you make it happen? As you reach each goal, you need to start planning for the next one. Do you know what the single most important factor is for securing a job in your career field once you graduate? Experience! Research shows that student who have jobs in their field of interest upon graduation had experience in their field of study. What counts as experience? Internships, part-time jobs, volunteer activities, membership in clubs and organizations, and immersive learning experiences. Of course the more you have on your resume, the better. Speaking of resumes, it is now time to go to the Career Center and have them give you feedback on your resume and help you hone your interviewing skills and gain information and start networking with potential employers. Remember that it can take 6 months to find a permanent job in your career field so don’t wait until graduation to start stage 4.
To recap here are the essential aspects of step 4:
- Gain experience
- Write your resume
- Refine interviewing skills
- Research potential employers
- Build network
- Apply for jobs
Stage 5: Re-evaluating Your Career Decision
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people have 12 jobs in their lifetime and spend 5 years or less in every job. Why do people change jobs? The answer is in the stages of career development. It is important to re-evaluate if your values, skills, interests (stage 1) have change and no longer match well with you current job. For example, perhaps you wanted a job that requires a great deal of travel and now that you have a family, you aren’t interested in traveling as much and want to be home more often. Or perhaps with the changing and growing economy, your job has changed so much that it is not satisfying anymore (stage 2). Whatever the reason, you need to make an honest assessment of yourself and your career every few years to see if you are still content with your current job or career. Understanding and utilizing the stages of career development will help you to not only find a satisfying first job but have a lifetime of satisfying jobs.
Please call the Counseling Center (765) 285-1736 and let us assist you with the first step in your career journey.