Fact: Many occupations have the potential to satisfy your career goals. Once you have clearly defined what you are looking for in a career, you will find that there are a number of paths that match these criteria. As you explore each option further, you can compare what they offer in terms of advantages and disadvantages.
Fact: Unless you are planning to enter an area that requires specific technical skills, such as mechanical engineering, you are free to choose any major that interests you. Most employers care more about your work-related experience (e.g., part-time jobs and internships) and the skills that you have obtained than they do about your major. It is possible to work in almost any career with any major.
Fact: Career planning is an ongoing process. You will probably re-address your career plans several times during your life; this is normal. Nowadays the typical person entering the work force will have as many as five or six different occupations by the time he or she retires.
Fact: Arts and Sciences majors usually have valuable training in areas such as interpersonal communication, writing, research, and critical thinking. These are called transferable skills, i.e., skills that are learned in one area that can be readily utilized in a wide range of other areas. The skills that one learns in the liberal arts are skills that are sought after by many employers.
Fact: Some people may have a major or career in mind when they enter college, and a few may actually stick with these original goals. However, the majority of entering college students change their minds about majors and careers several times before graduation.
Fact: Most people will benefit from a plan -- a full investigation and thorough consideration of different occupations. It is unlikely that you will just "bump into" the occupation that will perfectly match your skills and interests or satisfy your most important values. The more information you gather about yourself and the occupations you are considering, the more likely it is you will make a wise career decision.
Fact: People's knowledge of occupations is often incomplete. Most of what passes as knowledge is really based upon stereotypes. As you narrow down your options, be sure you are getting a balanced and accurate picture of the occupations you are considering.
Fact: Assessments can provide you with additional information that may be helpful as one part of the career planning process. No test, however, can tell you what to do with your life or serve up the "perfect" career match. You know yourself the best.
Fact: It is risky to consider only your skills for a career decision because skills are just one of the components of a full self-evaluation; interests and values are equally important in the decision making process. Just because you are good at something does not mean that you will enjoy doing that activity for a living.
Fact: The job market fluctuates constantly. Employment opportunities can change dramatically as a function of economic conditions, advances in technology, and the labor supply. Although projections are available from information resources and can be useful, this data should be used with caution and not as the only factor in your career choice.
This article was adapted from: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., Strong Interest Inventory Resource: Strategies for Group and Individual Interpretations in College Settings, 1995; and Gary Lynn Harr, Career Guide: Road Maps to Meaning in the World of Work, 1995.