7 questions to help figure out if you’re ready to make a career decision

Do you know what you want to be? What career are you going to pursue? Have you decided a career plan? Do you know what you want to be?


The pressure to pick a career is all around you. But maybe you aren’t ready to choose right now. Think about these seven questions.

Do you:

Have no career interests? When someone asks you what careers look interesting to you, you can’t name any. It’s tough to find a career of interest if you’ve already eliminated the majority of options.

Have too many career interests? Every job looks interesting. It’s just as hard to make a decision when almost every job looks interesting.

Rely on others to do the research for you? Who is more curious about your career plans, you or family members? Are others scheduling appointments for you with career counselors? Do they attend the meetings with you and ask most questions and supply most answers? Decisions about careers begin and end with you. You will be the one pursuing the degree and job opportunities.

Want to keep all options open? A long list of career options is a great place to start. But refusing to let go of career ideas, especially the ones that conflict with other factors, makes it tough to decide. For example, the student who wants to be a doctor may need to eliminate this option from the list if she dislikes science courses or doesn’t want to commit to long-term education plans.

Hope to narrow your focus right away? Narrowing your focus is a good idea as long as it’s done for the right reasons. Picking something just to “get the decision over with” isn’t a good strategy.

Need to tend to other matters? If there are personal concerns to tend to, it’s important to address them first. Stresses from external circumstances can affect decision making and hinder your ability to make a solid career decision right now.

Lack work experience? If you haven’t experienced doing assigned duties, meeting goals, working with others and having a supervisor, it can affect your ability to make a career decision. Every job, full or part-time is an introduction to the world of work.

If you answered yes to any of the above, don’t worry. There are steps you can take to begin the process of finding a career path.

1. Start noticing jobs around you. In your neighborhood and in your family; on campus and in books, movies and television. What are your reactions to them? Start a “cool jobs list” by simply writing down jobs that look interesting. Don’t worry about education requirements, skills or salary. Just pay attention to interests.

2. Begin a journal. What are your likes and dislikes? What did you enjoy as a child? What hobbies do you like now? Who do you admire and why? What type of environment do you prefer (indoors, outdoors, quiet, loud, lots of people, no people)? Answers to these questions help you learn about yourself, a critical first step in the career search.

3. Meet with a career counselor. The conversation that takes place may reveal that you aren’t ready yet to make any decisions. And that’s okay!  A career counselor can provide information that gets you thinking about careers that you’ll consult when you are ready. A career counselor can also help identify other resources that might provide more immediate assistance that you need.

Not everyone figures out career plans at the exact same age or year in school. Being a deciding student is okay as long as you’re taking steps to learn about yourself and the world of work so that you’ll know what information to use when you’re ready to decide.



9 ways to learn about college majors before selecting one

Students earning  Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degrees from CPCC know they want to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution. But many are unsure of which academic major they want to study. There are many ways to explore academic majors before selecting one.

Read the description of the major: It’s amazing how many students don’t take the time to actually read a college or university’s description of the academic majors offered. The major description often talks about the focus of the program, courses offered and types of careers people pursue after graduation.

Read the descriptions of the courses you’ll be taking: You decide which movie to rent by reading the movie description. The same approach works for college courses. Read about what you’ll study in the class. Does it sound interesting? If many of the classes from one major sound appealing, it’s a positive sign that the major might be a good fit for you.

Take a class: If possible, take a class from the major you’re considering. Keep in mind that introductory courses often provide an overview of a particular subject whereas upper level courses are more focused and intensive. However, an intro course can give a brief insight into topics that will be covered in more detail in the upper level courses.

Remember that you won’t like every course: Don’t dismiss a major because of one or two courses that make you cringe. Every academic major has courses that won’t be your favorites. Consider the bigger picture. Could you survive that course for one semester knowing that the other classes sound very interesting?

Talk to faculty and upper-level classmates: If possible, try connecting with students already enrolled in the major. Find out what they like about the major, why they chose it and what their career plans are. Email a professor from the department asking if you could schedule an appointment during office hours to talk about the program. Come prepared with questions to ask.

Check out related student organizations: Many programs have organizations that give students the opportunity to connect what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world applications. Clubs could be a great avenue for finding peers to talk to. You can usually find student club information through a college’s student activities office or through the corresponding academic department.

Meet with a career counselor: Career counselors can help you identify your skills and interests and brainstorm particular academic majors that compliment both. While a career counselor can’t tell you which major to pursue, the information you learn can help clarify which path might be the best fit.

Research possible career paths: Visit career exploration websites such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, O*Net and others to learn about different careers. These resources provide extensive information about the expected duties and skills for different jobs as well as the education path required to pursue them.

Know that your major may not determine your career path: If you talk to people employed in a profession of interest, there’s a good chance they have different academic backgrounds. The truth is, most career paths have different starting points. The likelihood that you’ll find yourself pursuing a different career than the one you originally intended is quite high. Additionally, your career interests may likely change over time. The chances of your academic major selection determining what career you’ll retire from are quite low.