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Wayne State College
Counseling Center
Student Center, Rm. 103
1111 Main St.
Wayne, NE 68787

(402) 375-7321 -or- 375-7557
Fax: 402.375.7058
eMail: advising@wsc.edu

 

 

Career Planning & Exploration: Common Myths of Major and Career Choices

 

BulletPeople hold a number of myths that interfere with choosing or committing to a major or career. These beliefs can result in unnecessary anxiety or even avoidance of making a choice. Here are a few common myths along with some reasons why they might not be true:

 

BulletThere is only one career that is right for me...

— Many people believe that there is one, and only one, occupation that will fulfill all their desires. All they need to do is discover it. The reality is that most of us can do a number of different things and would be happy in a variety of occupations. Also, we all change and develop over time, so as we mature one career is not likely to satisfy us for an entire lifetime.

BulletThere is "love at first sight" in vocations...

— The myth is that we will be immediately smitten with the vocation that we intuitively feel is right for us. The reality is that most people need to explore themselves and the world of work before they know whether something is right for them.

BulletUntil I find the perfect career choice, I won't be satisfied...

— The problem here is that perfectionism leaves no room for error and often leads to paralyzing anxiety or avoidance. We can be absolutely certain of very few things in our lives. "The only absolute is that there are no absolutes." The best we can do is to prepare ourselves to make good decisions and to deal with whatever happens.

BulletSomeone else can discover which vocation is suitable for me...

— A variation on this is the perception that a test or experience of some sort will tell us what we ought to do. The reality is that no one else, nor any single test or experience, can give us this kind of information. Although tests, assessments, and experience can help narrow our focus, in the end we must learn how to process the information and make our own decisions.

BulletI must be an expert or fabulously successful in my chosen career...

— The result of this belief is that we avoid or quickly leave any occupation in which we aren't immediately highly skilled and successful. The reality is that it usually takes some time to develop expertise in a career. Expecting yourself to be highly successful in a short time is often self-defeating. Some occupations require years of training and experience before an individual is able to master the skills and knowledge required to be proficient.

BulletThe choice of a major or career is irreversible...

— Once you make a choice you cannot, or should not, change your mind.
This is an archaic idea that might have been true several generations ago, but changing technology and social values has turned things around. The reality is that the vast majority of people change majors and/or careers several times in their lifespan. Most people change careers an average of 4 to 5 times in the course of their lives. The most important task is learning how to choose, not making the one, irreversible choice.

BulletIt's not okay to be undecided about a career or major...

— The myth is that we have to have definite ideas about what we are doing at all times. The reality is that all of us are undecided sometimes, and being undecided might be the best thing if we don't have all the information or insight needed to make a rational choice. Making premature decisions often costs more than taking your time.

BulletMy choice of a major or career should satisfy other people who are important to me...

— This myth results in a hectic attempt to please everyone, a task that is usually impossible to achieve. The reality is that while we may care what others think, ultimately we must satisfy ourselves in order to be happy.

BulletChoosing a major or career will solve all my problems...

— Many people rely too much on their studies or their careers to satisfy all their needs and to solve their problems. A major or an occupation is only one part of a satisfying lifestyle.

BulletYou must choose a career goal before choosing a major...

— This is not always true. In fact, over 50% of students graduating with an undergraduate degree pursue careers which have no direct connection with their majors. Your choice of a major does not necessarily lock you into a particular career, or vice-versa. Employers often look for candidates with a variety of skills and the ability to learn, not necessarily someone with a degree in a particular major.

BulletThe relationship of college majors to career fields vary. Obviously, some career choices dictate that you choose a specific undergraduate major. If you want to be a nurse, you must major in nursing. Engineers major in engineering. Architects major in architecture. There is no other way to be certified as a nurse, an engineer, or an architect. However, most career fields don't require a specific major. People with specific majors don't have to use them in ways most commonly expected.

 

BulletMost college majors don't offer specific preparation for a single type of work. Instead, they educate you and help (along with your activities, work, etc.) make up the personal package that can enable you to become anything you want to be. Your grades, the electives you choose, and the skills you acquire through your coursework often tell employers more about what you have to offer them than does your major.

 

BulletFurthermore, other factors affect how employers look at potential employees. Your personal traits, goals, experiences (jobs, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, internships), and knowledge of a career field play a large part in determining an employer's response to you.


______________________________
Return to Career Planning & Exploration

 

 

_________________________
Ron Vick, MA, LPC
Counselor / Academic Advisor
Int'l Student Advisor

 

 

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