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’ll find that there are a number of occupations that match these criteria.
Your goal at this point should be to take “the next best step." Through career exploration with a Career Development Practitioner or Career Counsellor you may narrow down your search to a particular field with many potential occupations that match your interests and goals.
The reality is that most university graduates will have several careers throughout their working lives.
Fact: Most employers care more about your work-related experience, such as volunteering, campus engagement (e.g. clubs & societies), part-time jobs, internships, and co-ops. They look more at “the real world skills” that you’ve gained than they do about your major.
Unless you’re planning to enter an area that requires specific technical skills—for example, mechanical engineering, nursing, or law—you’re free to choose any major that interests you. One program or field of study can lead to many different careers, and one career can be reached through many different fields.
Most people find themselves working in fields that may seem only remotely related to their undergraduate degree, and it is possible to work in almost any career with any academic background.
Fact: Career planning is an ongoing process. You will probably re-assess your career plans several times during your life. This is normal. Many university graduates entering the work force will have as many as five to eight different occupations by the time they retire.
Important as it is to find an occupation that you will find rewarding, it is not likely to be a final decision. People continue to change throughout life and so does the job market. Many occupations that will be available to you may not even exist yet!
While you can never know for sure that you are making the "right" choice at any given point, your goal should be to make the best choice for now, and continue to evaluate that career and your interests once you're working. Change is inevitable.
Fact: People with an undergraduate degree usually have valuable training in broad areas such as interpersonal communication, writing, research, and critical thinking. These are called transferable or soft skills—i.e., skills that are learned in one area that can be applied in a wide range of other areas. These are "the real world skills" mentioned above that you will learn in any undergraduate degree and are the most sought after by many employers.
Some career paths may require or expect further education, such as an advanced graduate degree or field-specific training. By proactively planning your career path, you will have a better sense of what additional education your chosen career path may require.
Fact: Some people may have a program of study and/or career in mind when they enter university, and a few may actually stick with these original goals. However, up to three out of four students entering university change their minds about majors and careers up to four times before graduation. On the other hand, the average student who enters university without a chosen field of study may change plans only one or two times.
Change is inevitable. Our academic advisors and career experts are here to guide you through it.
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 informed by intentional academic planning.
It is true that some things beyond your control will influence your life, but you must take an active role to determine your own fate by seizing upon opportunities as they emerge—or by creating your own opportunities!
Unfortunately, some research indicates that people who are unhappy in their careers most likely just "fell into" something without self-exploration and careful planning.
Fact: Many people's knowledge of occupations is often incomplete—university students included. The media often provides an unrealistic picture of occupations. Most of what passes as knowledge is really based upon stereotypes, and sometimes can even be false by attempting to generalize certain trends and patterns in employment.
Television shows may depict certain careers as an exciting occupation, but they generally show an incomplete or glamourized portrayal of that career. Occasionally, we see the “CSI effect” where certain occupations are completely misrepresented in order to dramatize work for entertainment purposes.
As you narrow down your career options, be sure you are getting a balanced and accurate picture of the occupations you are considering to pursue.
Fact: Assessment tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI), Strong Interest Inventory, or the Self-directed Search (SDS), can provide you with additional information that may be helpful as one part of the career planning process.
No single test, however, can tell you what to do with your life or serve up the perfect career match. Assessments take a sample of certain kinds of knowledge or attitudes and draw conclusions based on that sample. Use assessments with caution, and critically examine test results with your Career Counsellor or Career Development Practitioner.
You know yourself the best. Career- and interest-based assessments help guide you in exploring your strengths and interests as they may relate to a career path, but they are not definitive answers.
Fact: It is risky to consider only your existing or strongest skills for a career decision because skills are only one of the components of a full self-evaluation. Interests and values are equally important in the decision-making process. What you enjoy and what is important to you about life & work should also be taken into consideration.
Just because you are good at something does not mean that you will enjoy doing it for a living. You may be an excellent baker, and love baking as a hobby—this doesn’t mean you will necessarily love baking as your career.
Moreover, relying on your existing strengths does not take into account the skills you may have in areas to which you have not yet been exposed, or skills that you will develop once in a career.
Job outlook trends can be useful if considered with other factors in your career decision-making. Be sure to consult with your Career Development Practitioner or Career Counsellor.
In addition to the on-campus support offered, there are other resources that you can use as part of your career exploration and planning, as well as finding and securing employment during your studies or the summer.