An important part of the major and career exploration process is developing awareness of who you are as a person. Check out the resources below, and if you’d like to dive deeper into how to connect who you are to what you do, schedule an appointment with one of our career advisors.
What activities do you enjoy doing? What subjects are you fascinated by? Answering these questions can help you discover your interests and find major and career paths that will allow you to embrace them. Feeling unsure where to start? Here are some tips:
- Reflect back on courses you’ve taken and extracurricular activities in which you’ve participated. What did you like about these experiences? What did you NOT like? Use this information to guide you as you explore majors and careers.
- Take the O*Net Interest Profiler to see how your interests align with different occupations.
- Try new things! After all, how can you know if you enjoy something unless you test it out? There are so many ways to get involved at UW-Madison. Here are some resources to get you started:
Every experience we have in life helps us develop skills. When exploring majors and careers, it is important to reflect on which skills you feel confident about, and which you feel motivated to strengthen. The following activities and resources can help guide you:
- To see how the skills you have, and the ones you want to develop, align with various occupations, check out the O*Net Skills Search: https://www.onetonline.org/skills/
- Curious about which skills employers find most valuable? Learn about the top attributes employers want to see on resumes.
Download the Top 19 Skills Employers Seek handout to dig deeper into how your past experiences have helped you build important skills, and make a plan to grow your skills even more.
What’s important to you? Our values guide our behavior and our decisions, yet often we are not consciously aware of what is most important to us. Knowing your values is crucial in helping you get in touch with who you are and what you want from your major and career (and life)!
There are a ton of different ways to explore values. One method is to examine a list of values and choose the ones that stand out to you. Here’s a career values exercise to help you get started thinking about what’s important to you in your future work life. Print out this list and grab a pencil!
- From the values list, put a checkmark by every value that resonates with you. Don’t overthink it; just mark every one that feels important. If you think of a value that’s not on this list, please add it.
- From the values you checked, circle your top four most important ones.
- Rank those values from one to four.
Now you’re more aware of what’s most important to you in a work setting! What did you discover? Any surprises? Or did this activity help confirm what you already knew about yourself? (If so, great!)
Keep in mind that your values can shift with time and experience. What seems important to you at this stage of your life may change as you learn more about yourself and the world of work. That’s normal! It pays to keep checking in with yourself about your values so you are always aware of the principles that guide your decisions.
Want to talk over your values and learn what they might mean for your major and career decisions? Schedule an appointment with a CEC career advisor – we’ll be glad to help!
Your purpose is the central motivating theme of your life, the reason you get up in the morning. Now, as a student, your reason for getting up may be as simple as your chemistry lab or your Spanish class. But what if you could choose why you get out of bed and start your day? What would your reasons be then?
Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers at this point. Even people way older than you are often still figuring out their life purpose. But starting to think about your purpose now can help guide your decisions.
Here are some questions to help you begin considering your purpose:
- What brings you joy (activities, projects, people, hobbies, etc.)?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What are you naturally good at?
- What makes you feel great about yourself?
- Who inspires you the most, and why? (It could be someone you know or don’t know: friends, family, artists, leaders, etc.)
- What would you regret not doing, being, or having in your life?
Your answers to these questions will probably change over time, so don’t feel as if you need to set your life purpose in stone right now. If you’d like to go deeper into purpose and talk over these questions with a career advisor, we’re here for you!
We all have to make decisions, both large and small, every day. As a college student, it probably seems as if you face a lot of big decisions: What should I major in? What should I do for a career? Should I study for this class or that class right now? (Okay, that last one may not seem that huge, but it’s still a decision you need to make.)
Developing the ability to make decisions that are right for you can take practice. There are a variety of decision-making strategies, and sometimes we employ more than one.
Here are some examples of decision-making styles. Which one(s) do you use?
- Intuitive: What does your gut tell you? What feels right to you?
- Rational: What are the pros and cons of each option?
- Alignment: How well does this decision align with your values, interests, and skills?
- Relational: Who around me will be affected by this decision? How will their views affect my decision?
It can be beneficial to run a decision through one or more of these strategies. Also helpful? Scheduling an appointment with a CEC advisor! We will help you talk through your decision-making strategies and guide you in applying them to your major and career exploration.