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Determining your professional direction can be daunting. Before deciding on a major or career, it’s helpful to ask yourself some key questions about your interests, strengths and working personality. What tasks make time fly by for you? What tasks do you find yourself avoiding or procrastinating on? What do other people tell you that you’re good at? Do you like to work with people or independently? In an office or outside? Are you investigative, artistic, entrepreneurial, etc.?
Once you’ve spent some time learning about yourself, it’s time to learn about what real opportunities and jobs exist so you can chart your path to them.
Remember that career development and exploration is a lifelong process. You don’t have to map out your whole life! Just take the first step. These tools can help.
Oregon State is proud to offer many options for students to choose from when it comes to selecting a major, certificate or program of study. However, we also know it can feel overwhelming to choose from so many options. Luckily, there are resources and people here to help you find which course of study will best fulfill your personal goals:
The University Exploratory Studies Program (UESP) is a resource for Oregon State students who are still deciding on a major or are thinking of changing their course of study. UESP academic advisors help guide students toward picking a major that meets their personal values, interests and career aspirations.
"My underlying obsessions that pertain to human longevity, health span and overall well-being have set me to pursue the M.D. route. I hope that my clinical knowledge will supplement the intuition that I have slowly cultivated as a pseudo-endurance athlete, self-healer and medical practitioner aspirer, and I will be able to extrapolate the best from all these experiences to create a unique practice that treats patients as a dynamic whole with diverse needs and wants."
— Wesley Yu, Class of 2019
Major: Bioresource Research
These resources provide you with general principles on career development, skills you can start building and what employers are looking for in college graduates.
Focus 2 is an online career self-assessment, free for Oregon State students to use. It combines four assessments of your work interests, values, personality and leisure preferences and then matches you with real career options. And it takes less than 30 minutes. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and includes specific job tasks, qualifications, salary, job outlook and much more. Though it is a self-guided assessment, students can follow up with their college career advisor or UESP advisor and go over the results. Focus 2 is not exhaustive of all the job titles out there. Students are advised to look for themes in industries and job responsibilities that might appeal to them.
Interested in a Meyer’s Briggs-based assessment of your personality type (introverted or extroverted, etc.)? Also check out the free 16 personalities quiz.
There are many online tools available to help you discover your career path.
My Next Move is an interactive tool for job seekers. The site describes duties, skills, salary information and more for over 900 different careers. You can search careers by using keywords, browsing industries or completing the O*NET Interest Profiler, a tool that offers personalized career suggestions based on your interests and level of work experience. O*NET relies on the same U.S. government data but is much more detailed for exploring versus a quick snapshot on My Next Move.
Learn about various aspects of career fields including required education, potential earnings, job prospects and type of training to anticipate.
One of the best ways to determine what you might like to do is to reference real job boards. Oregon State’s university-wide job board with over 300,000 employers nationwide is called Handshake. Search by keyword and location to find and apply for real jobs and internships of interest. Even if you aren’t ready to apply, use Handshake to research job titles, requirements and how you can gear your OSU training at the career you want. Learn how to get the most out of Handshake.