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Career & Major Exploration

Mathematician at Blackboard

Deciding on a Major or Career

Choosing a major or career can be a very difficult decision. 60% of first year-students would consider themselves undecided, even if they have declared a major. Deciding what to do for the rest of your life is intimidating, but there is good news; we can help! Our philosophy on choosing a career path is to use your passions and find a career that you could see yourself doing for the next few years. We don't look beyond this because the reality is that the average American will go through 3 to 5 career changes in their working lifetime. There's no way to know what will come in the future, so instead we focus on setting you up for success right now. 

Focus 2 Career - Personality Based Career Exploration

FOCUS 2 Career is an online tool that will empower you to make informed decisions about your major, education and career. You may access it 24/7 and use it on an ongoing basis while at SDSU. This easy to use assessment will give you careers based on your personality, work interests, skills, values, and leisure interests. These careers are directly tied back to an SDSU major. 

The access code for FOCUS 2 Career is: jacks

Once you've completed FOCUS 2 Career, schedule an appointment with a career coach to discuss your results and how to plan your next steps. To schedule an in-person or virtual appointment, sign into Handshake, select Career Center, then Appointments.

SDSU Major Exploration

If you want to first explore SDSU majors and then find their related careers, the SDSU Explore Majors & Careers page allows you to simultaneously compare multiple degree options, view sample course plans, and learn more about individual program requirements. If you have any questions about any of these, you can either reach out to us or to the relevant academic department directly. 

Where Jacks go

Are you interested in common career outcomes for SDSU Jackrabbits? The Office of Institutional Research & Assessment manages the First Destination Survey. The SDSTATE First Destination Survey provides insight into the various career paths students take upon graduation. Survey data is used to measure the effectiveness of programs, identify employment opportunities of SDSU graduates, and improve academic programs.

Job Shadowing

Once you identify a career path, it is important to start gaining experience in the chosen career field. One of the best ways to do this is to reach out to current professionals working in that field. Despite Brookings' small town feel, it is home to an abundance of companies from many different industries. These companies are usually very receptive to students reaching out to learn more about the work that they do. Students are encouraged to reach out to any that they find interesting. 

In a job shadow, students typically go to the company and spend anywhere from an hour to a full day with the professional. Students see, first-hand, the work the professional does and have opportunities to ask questions. Job shadowing is also a really great way for students to start networking, because you never know when job or internship opportunities may become available 

Informational Interviewing

In some companies or industries there are policies that prevent job shadowing. In these instances we highly encourage students to try to schedule an informational interview with the professional instead. Information interviews are meetings, typically over coffee or lunch, where a student meets with a professional to learn more about their work. These are great alternatives to shadowing and allow students to not only learn more about the industry, but also tips and tricks that the employer might share that can help students as they navigate entering that career field. 

For more information on Informational Interviewing, as well as some questions to ask, please see our Informational Interviewing Guide on Handshake. 

Meet with a Career Coach

Even with using resources like Focus 2 Career, it can still be challenging to narrow down a career path. You can meet with one of our Career Coaches to discuss careers, your Focus 2 results, or how to develop a plan for gaining experience in your chosen career. 

Typically, these appointments are 45 minutes to leave sufficient time to adequately discuss career paths or answer any questions you may have. While sometimes one appointment is enough, it is not uncommon for students to meet with Career Coaches on multiple occasions while they progress down their respective career paths.

To schedule an in-person or virtual appointment, sign into Handshake, select Career Center, then Appointments.

Career Progression Plan

While it is all right to not have a set career goal in mind during your education, it is always a good idea to have a plan for your career progression, even if it is a rough one. We can work with students on developing a plan for them to gain experience or accomplish key requirements to be successful after they graduate SDSU. 

Here is a common 4-Year Career Progression Plan:

  1. Decide on a major and learn more about related careers.
  2. Get entry level experience related to your career, such as: a part-time job, join a student organization, or undergraduate research. 
  3. Find a relevant summer internship or job.
  4. Apply for full-time jobs or postgraduate programs.
Exploring Careers After Graduation

It is not uncommon for students to find new career opportunities in their final year of school. If you change your mind as a senior or wish to look into a different industry, we can help you identify transferable skills that you have gained through your past experiences and discuss how to use those when applying in a different industry.

Is Grad School Right For You?

Depending on the career field you might want to consider a postgraduate degree program. There are many different types of  programs out there and their admission processes can be difficult to navigate. Whether you are looking for a graduate certificate, master's degree, Ph.D., or a professional school like Law or Medicine, we help guide students through choosing the right program and navigating the application process.