I was one of those freshmen who came to UMD thinking I had everything figured out. I was going to come to UMD for Integrated Elementary and Special Education, complete my student teaching as required, and find a job as a special education teacher. I had a plan and I thought for sure that I would stick to that plan. Well, I was wrong. Within the first couple months of school, I knew that special education was not my calling and that I wanted to do something else. After meeting with the career counselors, taking each of the assessments provided by our office, and some soul searching, I decided to switch my major to Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Studies. Now I have my major and minor figured out, but need to figure out what I am going to do with them. Here is how I am going to do that:
Take Classes in Various Fields
While many majors have set courses that one needs to take to earn a degree, there are plenty of majors that have many different classes that one can choose to take to fulfill graduation requirements. Your academic advisor can be helpful in that realm of knowing which classes you absolutely have to take and which areas are more flexible in the courses you choose. If you do have the option to pick and choose which ones you would like to take, do it. Take classes in areas you think you do not like, maybe it will surprise you! Taking a variety of classes also helps you figure out which areas of a certain major interest you so you can tailor your education to what you really want to learn about.
This is something everyone will tell you, but don’t overlook it because it really is huge when it comes to making opportunities for yourself. Being active and involved on campus can be extremely beneficial to getting internships, jobs, scholarships, and it is typically pretty fun! UMD has a club for almost anything, so getting involved in one should not be a hassle. It is also a great idea to get involved in your classes. Ask questions, contribute in class, go see your professor during office hours — only good will come from it! Forming relationships with professors is great because they might need a teaching assistant or research assistant in the future and you will lose out on that opportunity if the instructor doesn’t even know you.
Learning about jobs is another great way to explore a new major. Researching is important to learn about what people in different careers do, what they earn, and what sorts of steps they took to get where they currently are. A great way to do this is to do a simple Google search and just see what comes up. This is a good way to find out what sorts of jobs are out there and what those jobs look like. Job postings will show what skills and education are required for the job as well as what the job duties are. Another great resource is the Graduate Follow-up Report. This allows you to see what previous UMD graduates have done with their degrees right after college in specific majors, which can be really helpful when it comes to choosing a career path. Learning more about different careers will help you find ones that you might be interested in. When you have done this, set up job shadows with people in those careers. Job shadowing gives you first hand experience as to what a career is like and will be the best determinant of whether or not you will fit within that career.
If you are like me and don’t really know what you want to do, try these three things. If you need any further help, stop by Career & Internship Services at 22 Solon Campus Center and schedule an appointment with a career counselor.
Photo Source: Unsplash | Joao Silveira