Investigate Options


There are five major steps to selecting a career or major: know yourself, explore and investigate career fields, test drive careers, evaluate your choice, and make a decision. It is critical to start at the the foundation, the bottom step, and build upon what you learn as you go. You may find that you need to return to a previous step if you gain insight or learn information in a later step that does not fit for you. These steps are like a stairway; you may find you need to reposition yourself on the stairway at various times throughout your life, for example, when you become dissatisfied with your current position, experience life changes, or find your position eliminated.

Undergraduates attend the UW Majors Fair in Union South's Varsity Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Others may try to make career and major decisions for you, but only you can determine what options fit for you. In order to determine fit, it is important you get to Know Yourself and identify the four cornerstones of your Career Foundation:  personal style, values, interests, and skills. The cornerstones cannot be determined by anyone other than yourself. In reality, only YOU can make the decision.

To find a career that will be a good fit for you, you must understand your personality and work style. For example, if you are introverted, or work best independently, working in a team-based environment with constant social interaction might not be as fulfilling. Consider your past work or volunteer experiences and what aspects you liked and disliked about the work environment.

Interests and skills are other components that play into your career choice. Think about what fields interest you and what types of skills you possess or enjoy learning.

Values also impact career choice. What is most important to you in a career? Job security, high salary, autonomy, life/work balance? Decide which of these or other values are your highest priority.

Without these pieces of the puzzle, a career decision is not grounded or based on criteria that matters to you. Begin with a solid foundation, know yourself, and work your way toward a solid career choice with the assistance of a School of Education Career Center Consultant.

5 Steps in Choosing a Career/Major

Evaluate Your Interests and Values

Four Year Plan for Career Success

Career Readiness for the New College Graduate