If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?
This is a question many juniors and seniors in high school applying to college cannot answer. But you shouldn’t be discouraged by this thought—many adults are still trying to figure out what they want to do “when they grow up”!
However, as future college freshmen, it is important for you to start to develop an idea of what you could see yourself doing after the four short years of college are over.
It may be wise for you to look at different job sectors and see where projected growth in the job market is the largest. That’s not to say you should pick a major based solely on a secure job after college, but you may find an untapped talent or interest in a field you would have not otherwise considered.
Jobs proving to be on the rise include health-related professions such as nursing, medical assistants, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and so forth.
If you want to do medicine but without as much hands-on work with patients (such as in nursing), then perhaps look into speech-language pathology where you can work in a school or a hospital, either with children or adults, and the need is growing rapidly each year.
Check out the Bureau of Labor Statics list compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor to analyze markets that have a steady growth in jobs over the next several years. The list contains jobs from a variety of sectors and may trigger an idea of a career that you haven’t previously examined.
If you have your heart set on being an English, history, anthropology, or any other liberal arts major, it is particularly important to have an idea of what you want to do with that degree and make the most of it while you’re in school.
You are most likely going to be spending a good amount of money on this degree—education is an investment, and you want to get out of it what you put in!
Therefore, if you choose a major that doesn’t have a clear path to a career associated with it, keep in mind that you may need to put more effort in outside the classroom to build up your résumé.
That being said, you want to bolster your résumé with outside activities anyway, but they become increasingly important with off-the-beaten-path majors.
With liberal arts or more general majors (like history or communications), it is vital to have professional experience under your belt before graduation.
The importance of internships is going to be hammered into your head by the time you reach sophomore year so you might as well start your research early because landing a good internship can be almost as competitive as landing a good job.
Get to know your professors, not just because they can help you excel academically, but because they may have insight into internships that are connected with the subject matter you are studying, and if not they are a great recourse for recommendation letters when you eventually need them.
Volunteering or interning in a sector that is related to what you want to do after college could potentially land you that first job in a very competitive job market.
Projecting four years (or more) into your life at 18 years old is not an easy task.
But if you have an idea about a career that you could see yourself doing before you declare a major and work towards that, then you will be better off come graduation when you have a job lined up and a salary that will help pay for those dreaded school loans or your first apartment!