Discover Your Potential
Figuring out what you want to do also entails learning about the possibilities. The next step is strategically researching and gathering information from a variety of sources on what careers exist, what it’s really like to work in specific industries, and what it takes to be successful in certain professions. Then consider what you know about yourself (skills, interests, values, personality, and decision-making style) and how it might fit with potential careers.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Career Path and Preparation
- What are some entry-level or intern roles?
- What is the typical career trajectory?
- What academic preparation is needed?
- What experience is needed to get a foot in the door?
- What skills and qualifications are necessary?
- What is it like to work in the ______ industry?
- How would I be spending my time? What does a typical day look like?
- What is the environment or culture of the organization/profession/industry?
Career Planning Myths
Myth: There is only one right career for me.
Reality: There are multiple career paths, industries and occupations you will find satisfying.
Myth: My major will define my career choice.
Reality: Every major can lead in multiple directions and majors do NOT linearly lead to careers. In fact, 75% of college graduates don’t work in a career that is “related” to their undergraduate major. (Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans)
The following resources can be used to help you discover research and discover potential career options. Meet with a career educator to talk about what they mean for you and your career development process.
Link Academics to Careers
What can I do with this major?—This resource can be particularly helpful when you are choosing a major or when you are looking for career fields/job titles that are related to your major.
University of Rochester specific resources:
- Review the list of academic majors at the University of Rochester. Many departments provide detailed information and feature career options on their specific websites. Check out the advising section of department websites for people to connect with and for specific questions on transfer credit and officially declaring a major. The authorized signature list provides the contact information of faculty and administrators who are able to sign off on your major and answer many questions.
- Talk to the peer advisors—undergraduate students who are trained to give you insight into the Rochester curriculum and chat with you about their experiences within particular majors. Read their bios and email them to connect anytime!
Discuss your thoughts on major and course selection options with trusted mentors and advisors which can include your undergraduate advisor, major advisor, department faculty, the College Center for Advising Services and/or career educators at the Career Center.
Research Industries and Professions
- LinkedIn—Explore career paths others have taken within certain industries, majors, specific organizations, etc., by reading people’s profiles. You can take it a step further by reaching out particular individuals for an informational interview.
- University of Rochester Career Outcomes Dashboard—This tool provides information on where recently graduated students have gone. You can sort by particular majors, industry areas, and more.
- Vault.com—Included on the site is the complete Vault Guide Library, including all Vault guide books, numerous occupational profiles, and thousands of company snapshots. Access Vault.com through Handshake (once logged in, click on the resources tab).
- Career Cornerstone—This comprehensive resource is packed with information about careers in science, mathematics, engineering, computer science, and healthcare.
- WeUseMath.org—This website describes the importance of mathematics and many rewarding career opportunities available to students who study mathematics.
- Think about what skills or competencies you would like to develop through your coursework, whether within or outside you major and through the clusters you choose.
Explore through the Career Communities
As you explore, consider joining and/or checking out the resources of all or multiple career communities. Each community’s website provides detailed information and resources as well as events to help you learn and discover information on a variety of industries and professions.
Conduct Informational Interviews
A great way to get the inside scoop on industries and professions that might interest you is to conduct informational interviews. This means finding people to reach out to (faculty, alumni, family, friends, upperclass students, etc.), show genuine interest in learning more about their current or past roles, and ask for about 20 minutes of their time to chat.
Do some research on who they are and what they do, take it seriously and prepare questions to help you learn about their career paths and ask what advice they have for you as you explore possibilities. Schedule an appointment with a career educator to discuss how to find people, ways to reach out, and discuss approaching the conversation.
Shadow Professionals in Industries of Interest
Reach out to someone who works in an industry of interest and ask to shadow them for a few hours to a day or two. Use this opportunity to learn more about what it’s like to work in a certain industry and/or profession, as well as about a company culture. It could help narrow your interests and provide inspiration moving forward—and believe it or not, shadowing is something you can put on your resume!
"Instead of trying to predict a future you can't see, you can start your career planning by focusing on what you know right now, what you don't know, and what you can learn."
You Majored in What? (Katharine Brooks)