Step 3: Narrowing your Choices
- Talk with faculty in the major
Perhaps you're thinking of majoring in an area you're taking a class in this quarter. Go to the instructor's office during office hours and talk about his or her interests and background in the discipline. Remember, this person has dedicated his or her life to this subject, to its advancement and its dissemination. That's pretty powerful. If anyone could give you the bird's eye view of that major, a faculty member can. If you're not in a class with someone, ask the departmental or academic adviser who is best to talk with. Faculty are busy people, but they will be pleased that you're interested in something they're interested in. CAREER SERVICES HAS A LIST OF QUESTIONS TO ASK FACULTY about selecting a major.
- Talk with students already declared in the major
To get the ultimate insider's view, talk with other students (like we had to tell you that!). Find out what drew them to the major, what they hope to do in the future, what the good opportunities are and qualities students need to have to be successful. You can also talk with family and friends who know you well.
- Talk with professionals in the field
It may be a challenge to find professionals for an informational interview. Research online.
- Check out Career Services Wildcat Career Network's mentoring component. CS partners with Alumni Relations to maintain a database of alumni mentors who are willing to talk with students about their career path. www.cwu.edu/career Click on Wildcat Career Network
- Research companies of interest and people employed there who are willing to give 30 – 45 minutes of their time to meet with you.
- Career Services has a list of sample questions to use in an informational interview.
- Decide what person you are going to interview and make an appointment. If it's not possible to meet in person, the interview might be conducted via phone or e-mail.
- If meeting in person, arrive on time for the interview, prepared to ask questions and take notes. Don't let the interview go more than 45 minutes. Remember to follow-up with a written thank-you note.
- Making Decisions
You've obtained a great deal of information. Now it's time to sift through it and begin to make some concrete decisions.
Your generation sets high standards for making good decisions. Research has indicated an increase in decision-making stress among young adults because of self-imposed high standards set for reaching decisions, the illusion of control over the decision-making process and worries about possible regret regarding your final decision (Van Vianen, 2006). If you've acquired all the information you can, have confidence in your "gut feeling."
Narrow your majors to 1 to 3 choices that seem best suited to you given what you know about yourself and the information you've collected. Enroll in the introductory courses. Test your impressions of the major with the academic reality of the coursework. Are you academically suited for the major? Do you enjoy the courses? Does the content of the course stimulate and motivate you? If not, try your next choice. Young adults are likely to view early career choices as being irreversible, which in turn, fuels career indecisiveness and increases worries about possible loss of control of major or career choice. It's OK to be uncertain. You have the right to change your mind and your direction. Focus on the positive, realizing you have options.