Every day at work I meet with college students – we talk about a variety of issues surrounding how to choose a major, find a career they will enjoy, and generally how to be successful at the University. Whether students are trying to find an organization on campus or select courses for next semester, they often ask for advice.
When I was on the other end of these conversations in 2003 as a freshman in college, I never imagined I would be in this position. I have a unique perspective as an advisor who works with undeclared students. I share many of the same characteristics and interests of my students – after all, we’re both Millennials. Although sometimes I feel much (MUCH) older, I do love the connection I have with my students.
In early October a colleague of mine I met through the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) convinced me to join Twitter. While hesitant at first, I’m benefiting from tweets on a daily basis (more on social media in a later post). On my Twitter feed I came across some interesting blog posts from college students on being a Millennial, picking a major, balancing a social life and career, and pursuing your passion. After reflecting on the blog posts I wanted to provide some insight since I’m very interested in the topics.
Keep in mind – there are no answers. The purpose is to create a conversation and share thoughts.
Tips for Millennial students choosing a major:
• Visit your professors/TAs during office hours
o Come prepared with at least three questions, such as “What are some careers related to this major?”
• Participate in experiential learning – volunteer, intern, join a student organization, etc.
o Find an opportunity related to a potential major or career – have conversations with their leaders
• Conduct informational interviews and job shadow
o Ask professionals how they got to where they are today and questions such as, “What’s the relationship between majors and this career?”
• Meet with your academic advisor and professionals in the career center early and often
o Ask them specific questions – they can guide you to helpful resources on campus
• Interested in a specific occupation? Search for info via the Occupational Outlook Handbook
o Start with a list of potential majors and/or careers, then cross them off as you eliminate each one
• Ask for feedback on your strengths from peers – advisors, friends, family, professors, etc.
o If you start hearing the same comments, it’s a good sign
Choosing a major involves learning about three things (in no particular order) – yourself (values, interests, skills), majors, and careers. There may or may not be a relationship between your major and career. Outside of the occupations that require a license (engineer, architect, account, teacher, nurse, etc.), you could come from any educational background. Graduate school is also an option to further enhance your credentials.
Make meaning of your experiences – don’t simply go through the motions to add to your resume or earn a grade. Integrate what you learn in the classroom with your other experiences and conversations.
Take these ideas with a grain of salt. After all, I was multi-tasking the entire time I wrote this blog post and I waited until the last minute to finish – typical Millennial.
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