Career & Major Exploration

Wondering what Career and Major is right for you?

As you explore your options for your program of study and major – and for your career, here are a few useful questions and tools that may help. As you read the brief sections below, you may also want to visit these helpful Web sites:

  • Connect Majors with Careers here!  Gives a comprehensive look at a large number of academic major areas and where they can get you in the workforce.
  • Collaboration between US department of labor and US department of Education designed to provide information on high growth, high demand occupations with skills and education needed to attain these jobs.

Career Panels

Learn about potential careers from professors at Middlesex Community College!

 Allied Health, Engineering, and Technology Panel
Careers and programs covered in this video include:

Biology and Biotechnology– beginning of video, Veterinary Technology– 5:14, Health Information Management & Information Systems– 10:30, Ophthalmic Design & Dispensing– 18:35, Computer Engineering Technology and Engineering Science– 28:10, Physical Therapy– 33:30, Engineering Technology, Machining– 40:00

Math & Science Panel
Careers and programs covered include:

Physical & Earth Sciences– beginning of video, Math (teaching)– 5:00, Earth and Environmental Science– 12:40, Math– 20:58, Careers that use Math– 26:00, Biology– 30:10, Chemistry– 36:05

 Communications, Media, and Fine Arts Panel
Careers and programs covered include:

Communications, Broadcast Cinema, Film, Television, Media, Philosophy– beginning of video, Multimedia, Digital Arts– 5:50, Center for New Media, Broadcast–  14:29, English– 29:30, Fine and Commercial Arts– 36:23

Self-Assessment, Assessment Tools and Job Search Help

  • What are my skills?
  • In what type of environment do I want to work?
  • What major should I choose?
  • Where are there strong programs to transfer?

These are some of the questions you may have as you begin to make career decisions. Gathering information on “who you are and in which direction you wish to head” are the starting points for self-assessment. The Career Development and Counseling Center services may help you as you start to answer these questions.

Self-Assessment Tools

There are many ways to develop accurate and useful information about yourself so that you may determine the direction(s) you wish to pursue.
The following steps have been found to be effective:

  • Schedule an appointment with a counselor in the Career Development and Counseling Center
  • Self-assessment Inventories. A variety of resources exist. Some measure occupational interests while others aid you in evaluating temperament, values, and work related skills. These include the Strong Interest Inventory, Self-Directed Search, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as well as FOCUS, a computer based, interactive assessment tool. These are available through the Center, but you must first meet with a counselor to determine which tools might work best for you
  • Talk to those who know you well for their opinions. Sometimes others close to us are able to better note our skills and talents. See if these have held true over time.
  • Write down thoughts you have concerning these issues. When were you most productive? What times have made you the happiest? etc. Try to be specific about these incidents. Remember the situation; were you working alone or with others? What skills were you using? Think about the environment. In most circumstances, a pattern will emerge. Next, share these anecdotes with a counselor. Between the two of you, some tentative decisions may be reached.
  • After you have identified some possibilities, utilize the Career Library to read and gather more information on the careers and/or majors on which you have decided. These resources will most likely describe the type of position, educational background, training and qualifications, and potential income of people in the field as well as discuss the environment in which you would work.
  • In addition to reading about various career fields, you may wish to speak with professionals in the field. Through doing an “informational interview” with those who are working in that occupation, you may gain a better understanding of what it is really like. To assist you in planning this informational interview process, it may be helpful to meet with a counselor.
  • Employer information. You may find it helpful to both identify and read about employers who may hire people in your field. This may be accomplished by reviewing directories in the career library, accessing the internet, or reading classified advertisements in a newspaper or on line. By knowing what your options are for employment, you will have more information on which to base your decisions.

There is no secret formula, no short cuts in assessing yourself. It takes time to go through this process, a process you may do a number of times in your life. However, you are not completely on your own. By meeting regularly with a career counselor, you may gain a clearer understanding of your assets and how they may best be utilized in the work world.

Informational Interview

Informational interviews are a widely-accepted method of obtaining information about careers, job search methods and potential employers. Personal acquaintances, professional contacts, teachers, and family members are potential sources of advice as well as potential resources for informational interviewing. There is an etiquette involved in requesting an informational interview:

  • Make contact by telephone or email. Explain your purpose. Ask for fifteen minutes at the convenience of the person you are contacting during which you might visit and ask questions.
  • Stress that you are seeking advice not a job.
  • Be on time, dress appropriately, and be courteous. Thank the advisor for his/her help and follow up with a thank-you note.

What kinds of questions should you consider asking? The best questions are open-ended, requiring elaboration rather than a simple “yes” or “no”. Here are some ideas.

  • What qualifications or education are required (or useful) for entry into this kind of work?
  • Are there academic programs or colleges/universities that you might recommend?
  • What kinds of experiences are essential?
  • Describe how you spend your time during a typical workday.
  • What skills or talents are most essential for success in this field?
  • When you were in college, what did you think your career would be? What did you major in?
  • What are the toughest problems you have to deal with?
  • What do you find most rewarding?
  • How rapidly is the field growing? How does the future look?
  • What obligations does your work place upon you, outside of the ordinary work week? Do you enjoy these obligations?
  • How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, hours of work, vacation schedule, place of residence, etc.?
  • How well suited would my background be if I majored in —- for work in this type of field?
  • What kinds of experiences, paid employment or otherwise, would you most strongly recommend?
  • What other career options do you see as being available for someone who majored in — outside of the profession you selected?
  • If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
  • What types of employers hire people in your line of work? Where are they located? What types of industries are they in?
  • Are people in this field very mobile? Do they change jobs or locations frequently?
  • How would you describe the average earnings in this profession? What do newcomers typically make? Are salaries the only source of compensation, or are there others (bonuses, commissions, stock options, etc.)?
  • How are employment decisions typically made? What factors are most important?
  • How does one find out about jobs in this field? Are they advertised in newspapers (which ones?), publicized by word of mouth, or filled by employment agencies?
  • Is turnover high? How does one move from position to position?
  • What kind of person does well in this type of field? Why?
  • Based on our conversation today, what other people do you believe I should talk to? May I have your permission to mention you name when I contact them?

One last thought: Informational interviewing should be fun. Too often, we treat career decision- making as tedious. Here is an experience that offers no threat and much to be gained. Enjoy yourself and learn!!!