Tools for Choosing Your Major & Career

By: Rachel

The path to choosing a major is one that looks different for everyone. It seems we’re asked countless times over the years, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us are sticking with the same answer we gave in 1st grade, while others have new ideas every day. Before we get to that career, many of us have to decide which major to pursue first.

To share a brief summary of my own experience, I decided what fields I wanted to study in college the summer before my senior year of high school. I had a few different ideas over the years, but they were slowly weeded out as I came to know more about myself. I always had a love for the written word, but I didn’t really want to go into creative writing, and I wasn’t sure what options that left for me. Out of nowhere, grant writing started to come up in conversations with my aunts and uncles, teachers, and other professionals. While I didn’t know a whole lot about it, it sounded like the type of writing I was interested in.

I had a friend who majored in Professional Writing, and one day the idea came to me to pursue a similar major along with a general background in business. I thought this would lend me a wide scope of occupational opportunities while still being areas I was excited to learn about and work in. My pairing was both strategic and driven by my passions; you can read more about that here.

After this idea came to me, I did more research into job outlook and what I could expect. I took a career class spring of my senior year of high school that forced me to conduct informational interviews and research through sources like O*NET OnLine and the Occupational Outlook Handbook provided through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). I remained open to the fact that I might decide to change my majors once I got into college, but the things I learned through my research affirmed my decision. I want to take a moment to highlight the sources I found particularly helpful as well as a few others offered through our office.

Image: open notebook on wood desktop with pens
Text: Tools for choosing your major and career
  • Your network: I never would have even known grant writing existed if it weren’t for the people in my life. Reach out to those around you, especially professionals. It’s important to keep in mind that one person’s opinion/view is just that: one person’s view, but those working in the field have a unique perspective on opportunities that exist and may be able to offer ideas of where your talents and abilities could be used best.
  • Informational interviews & Job shadowing: Informational interviews and job shadowing are additional ways to connect with professionals in a field of interest.  They can provide tips on steps you should take at this point in your life to set yourself up for success in the future, and doing an interview/job shadow can be a great way to add valuable contacts to your network.
  • What Can I Do With a Major In (all majors): There are so many different online resources out there, and I’d recommend not just relying on one. It’s a good idea to cross-reference your data, and different sites provide slightly different types of data. This resource through the University of North Carolina Wilmington is a great one for college students, because it links a major with a bunch of connected job titles as well as related major skills. This provides you with occupation titles you might not have ever heard of that you can plug into other career outlook sites for more information. The related major skills can be super helpful in determining what minor or additional major would be particularly beneficial to you in that field.
  • What Can I Do With This Major? (via University of Tennessee’s Center for Career Development): Somewhat similarly, this site takes majors and breaks them down into more specific areas. Within each area, there are bullet points of typical job duties. Reading through these might pique your interest or turn you away, thus narrowing your search. Each area also includes examples of specific employers and strategies for success in the field. These are helpful tips of steps to pursue in your education, activities, job experiences, etc. in order to build a solid foundation for that specific area.
  • BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook: Once you have pinpointed a specific job title you’d like to look into, you can use BLS to find a quick summary of median pay, typical education level expected, and job outlook, among other statistics. Across the top, you’ll find additional tabs with information on job responsibilities, how to become one, and similar job titles. One of the tabs I use most is the one that provides state/regionally specific data.
  • O*NET OnLine: One last website I’d like to highlight is O*NET, which is like the BLS Handbook in that it is organized by occupation. It is easy to use, and a quick search will provide you with a summary of tasks, skills, and knowledge commonly used on the job, as well as personality characteristics and values that lend themselves well to the field.
  • Graduate Follow-up Report: This report provides much of same information provided through these sites, such as job titles within each major, specific employers, and median salary, but it is specific to students who have graduated from UMD! We put this together every year with information from students who have graduated in the last 6 months to 1 year.
  • Assessments: Another potential source of information that will help you determine your major/career are career assessments. There are 3 major ones offered through our office as well as a few you can take for free online. These will provide information on your personality, interests, and skills which you can then match up with compatible fields. Setting up an appointment to discuss your results with a career counselor can provide further clarification.

This might seem like a lot of information to navigate, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different routes determining your career might take. If you find yourself trying to answer the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”, my core advice would be to stay open. The inspiration for what direction to head could come from just about anywhere: your hobbies, your dreams as a child, your skillset, your heritage, a class you took, or information you found from a website. I’d encourage you to make this decision based on what you learn from a variety of sources: testimonies from professionals, statistics, and your personal attributes. More than anything, recognize that the answer to the question will never totally be finalized, and that’s part of the beauty of career development.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with resources & articles

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Mike Tinnion

Library Resources That Will ROCK Your Career Search

By: Heidi

So you’ve begun the job search process. First, congratulations on making it this far! It’s exciting being able to think of all the possibilities of where you could end up next, but can be daunting for some not knowing where to start or what to even be thinking about in the job search process. I recently spent some time at the Library learning about resources available to us as a UMD students and I’m here to share what I found.

Reference USA
Ever feel like a company’s About Me page just isn’t enough? Reference USA can be a great tool for learning more about an industry by searching specific companies you’re interested in. This site will give you the scoop of demographics of a business, their current management, and business size history by sales volume as well as employees. This can be useful information for you to understand if a specific company is experiencing growth and can be a way for you to frame your interview questions.

Image: wall of books shelves filled with books
Text: Library resources that will ROCkKyour career search

Occupational Outlook Handbook
This resource is a great starting point for understanding what type of salary you can expect in the industry you’ll be going into. You can select different occupational groups and from there select the specific occupation you’re pursuing. After that, information is broken down into what that job does, the typical work environment, pay, job outlook, and similar occupations. What I think is the coolest part of this site is the “important qualities” information which can be found underneath the “how to become one” tab. For example, I’m looking at an Advertising Sales Agent role which highlights having communication skills, initiative, organization, and self-confidence, all of which I would strategically highlight how I have these skills if I were to go into an interview for this position.

Learning Express Library
Is passing an entry exam for an occupation/job or the GRE on your mind? This site is going to be your go to spot for all resources for preparing for all different tests you can imagine and actual practice exams. Different tests range from nursing, real estate, social work, EMT services, and law enforcement. Along with assessments, the Learning Express Library also offers different ways for you to build your skills with writing, speaking, and grammar which are all crucial when it comes to building your resume and communicating your skills and accomplishments in a job interview.

Interview Books
Congratulations on being at this step in the process! It’s exciting to finally being able to get your face in front of a company and highlight all of your hard work and what you’ve been doing as a student. If you’re new to this or just looking to brush up your skills, the library has TONS of books to help set you up for success to stand out in the process. Follow this link to browse different titles for all your interview needs.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a resource librarian to answer any of your questions or further assist you in finding resources for the direction you’re going!

Of Possible Interest:
Job Search – all our blog posts on the topic
UMD Specific Resources – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Stanislav Kondratiev

Job Search Tips – Part 2

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest blogger)

Here’s part two of the job search tips we sent out during the summer on our Twitter account. I should explain this briefly. We frequently send out job search related content on our Twitter account. This was a concentrated effort (with a hashtag & everything) to share a #JobSearchTip every day that we were sending out content on Twitter. If you haven’t checked out part 1 yet, do so.

Job Search Tips

I thought it would be helpful to have all those tips in one (or two) places. Today, I’m sharing all of the job search tips that we tweeted out during July. Even if it’s not July, these tips can be helpful for whenever you’re conducting a job search.

Bullet Journal Job Search Habit Tracker

There you have it. So many job search tips in one place. Go forth and conquer the job search process!

Of Possible Interest: 

Job Search Tips – Part 1

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest blogger)

This summer we sent out job search tips during June and July on our Twitter account. I should explain this briefly. We frequently send out job search related content on our Twitter account. This was a concentrated effort (with a hashtag & everything) to share a #JobSearchTip every day that we were sending out content on Twitter.

Now that summer is winding down, I thought it would be helpful to have all those tips in one (or two) places. Today, I’m sharing all of the job search tips that we tweeted out during June. Even if it’s not June, these tips can be helpful for whenever you’re conducting a job search.

Job Search Tips
  • Set up job search alerts on the different job search sites you’re using.
  • Don’t job search from your couch. Go somewhere. Treat searching for a job, like a job.
  • Use GoldPASS as part of your search strategy – all you need is your UMD login info.
  • Do different job search related tasks throughout the day. Don’t spend all your time just surfing 1 job search site.
  • Research different career paths that go with your degree. This could introduce pathways you haven’t considered yet.
  • When applying for out-of-state jobs, make a point to include on your resume and/or cover letter your reasoning or plans to relocate.
  • Use social media to your advantage in your job search.
  • Attend local networking events and/or join young professionals groups. Meet the people instead of always being a number in the online system.
  • When you have an interview ALWAYS bring a printed copy of your resume for your interviewer.
  • Follow companies you’re interested in, on social media. See how they interact with customers.
  • Use the skills listed in the “qualifications” section of a job posting to help you figure out what to highlight on your resume.
  • Applying for jobs and getting no response? Your application materials potentially could use some work.
  • Google job search tips & tricks to guarantee better results. Via: YouTern
  • Have a disability you’re not quite sure if, how, or when you want to disclose it in the search process? Tips: on our blog.
  • Check out our Ace the Job Search Pinterest board for numerous articles/resources to help w/your search.
Ace the Job Search Pinterest board screenshot

Check out Job Search Tips – Part 2

As Summer Comes to an End

Summer is just about over. In fact, the freshman class moved onto campus yesterday. Here at Career & Internship Services, we want you to be as prepared as possible when it comes to tackling the next school year.

Start To-do list

Here are a few things to think about and/or do:

Update your resume. Add your internship, study abroad, or summer job. Strengthen your descriptions for the positions you already had listed on your resume. Need help finding room on your already packed resume? Resume drop-ins will start the week of August 31st. Formal resume drop-in sessions happen every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon (2-4pm in SCC 22) while classes are in session. A little known secret is that you can stop by anytime we’re open (M-F, 8-4:30pm) to have a trained Peer Educator take a look at your resume.

Plan out your “extra stuff” for the upcoming year. Work on building your resume. Get involved in a student organization. If you’re already a student org or two, up your level of involvement (help plan events, run for an exec board position, etc.). Find an internship, research opportunity, or volunteer position. These all look great on a resume and help you in figuring out what life after graduation might look like.

If you’re graduating in May, start laying the groundwork now. Figure out what you want your next step to be. You don’t have to have your whole life figured out. Just work towards the next step. We can help you put together a job search plan or apply to grad school. Take a look at our “By Major” reports to see what recent UMD grads with your major have done 6-12 months after graduation. Other resources to help you: events schedule; Pinterest boards with articles; grad school exploration; GoldPASS (the job & internship board for all U of MN students); Twitter (@umdcareers) for office happenings, events, opportunities, and more; LinkedIn group to connect with peers, UMD staff & faculty, alumni, and employers; and our website.

Ultimately, we want you to have a great school year. Embrace your future with confidence.

Photo: Unsplash | Blake Richard Verdoorn

Other Career Blogs to Check Out

By: Ashley

Hey fellow blog followers! Can you believe that in less than a month it will be summer vacation! Many of you are graduating, others are looking into what they want to do after graduation (possibly grad school), some may be alumni, and others may be trying to find an internship. Well I have done a little research and found a few career blogs that I think everyone of you may find useful. Each is full of posts written by their experienced and knowledgeable staff. The four career sites that I found most interesting and useful were:

  1. Big Interview – http://biginterview.com/blog/
  2. Career Rocketeer – http://careerrocketeer.com/
  3. Brazen Careerist – http://blog.brazencareerist.com/
  4. YouTern – TheSavvyIntern – http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/

Big Interview

Big Interview is a website that aims to help people gain the knowledge and skill to get the job by acing the interview. The site was developed with the help of Pamela Skillings, a top interview coach and features a blog specializes on tips about interviewing but also talks about resumes, cover letters, networking, follow ups, and job offers. Many of the posts on this site that I found the most helpful were the ones about how to answer those difficult interview questions as well as how to handle a panel interview versus a group interview.

Career Rocketeer

Career Rocketeer was founded by Chris Perry, a brand and marketing generator. The site is a career search and personal branding blog that aims to help those who are driven to “launch” their career. There are many great posts written by their experts who really explain what personal branding is, and how to manage it. There are posts on things other than personal branding, such as social media, networking, career management, and they have an “everything else” category that has a hodge-podge of interesting information.

Brazen Careerist

The Brazen Careerist is a site that is all about engagement, and their blog has some very interesting posts that range in information about job searching, social media, on the job advice, entrepreneurship, general college posts, and career growth. They have written about everything from negotiating salaries, asking for a raise, the importance of your GPA after graduation, managing student credit cards, and using transferable skills. Anything that you might want to know, or have a question about I am willing to bet has been written about by them.

YouTern – TheSavvyIntern

YouTern aims to help young people become employable and helps to connect them to internship opportunities while also offering contemporary career advice through their blog TheSavvyIntern. On their blog they offer tons of fresh tips to find an internship and how to handle life after graduation. There are usually tons of great posts that use infographics to get their point across. Because really, who doesn’t love a great infographic about what to wear to an interview, or how to clean up your digital image? There are posts about how to build a successful and appealing resume, career advice from recent graduates, and what to know and how to handle recruiters when looking for a job and while networking.

These of course are just 4 career websites that I came across that I have found to be really helpful. I suggest that when you are feeling unsure, have questions, and are even a little bored to just browse through these sites and I am willing to bet you will find some cool information you didn’t think you would find on the internet. Of course I forgot to mention one blog that all of you should read and tell your friends to read and that is our blog, where you can find posts on all the topics listed above and many more that your very own peers here at UMD have written. As always don’t hesitate to come on in to our office (SCC 22) if you have any questions!

You can also check out our “Fun Reads” page for more career blogs to read.

Read Ashley’s other posts

New Pinterest Boards

We recently completed a revamp of our Pinterest boards. They more organized and easier to navigate. Our Pinterest boards hold links to great career-related material from around the interwebs. We highly recommend that you check the boards out, repin content, like pins, and follow us.

Here are our brand new boards:

Revamped boards:

Boards that have been around for awhile and are still awesome:

We’ve been on Spring Break all week, so we’ll be back in action next week with all new posts!