Workshop offers career advice
Mai Vu, a Counseling and Psychological Services practicum clinician, said many factors from one’s youth and past experiences play a role when exploring career possibilities.
She encouraged participants in the “Undecided! Career Exploration and Planning” workshop on Wednesday to take a trip back and share their aspirations as children to exemplify how they evolved into their current career paths.
“Even in your childhood dreams there are certain aspects of the people you admire that can potentially help serve you in finding your own career later on,” Vu said.
Some students may stick to the plans they concocted as children, but for others, making decisions about their careers can be unappealing. Students may not know what they want to do or may not even know how to begin exploring options.
Vu said the thought of creating a plan may seem daunting, but choosing to leave your future up in the air may have consequences, especially with the current employment pressures that stem from the economic state of the US.
“Students without a career plan run the risk of not finding employment or being unsatisfied with the career they have,” Vu said.
The first step for students in creating a plan is choosing a major; this can be difficult for undecided or indecisive students, although Vu said this type of behavior is completely normal and expected.
While many students do switch majors during their college years, Vu said that undecided students run the risk of spending time and money on courses that may not be necessary.
Although the current financial situation many students face does not allow much leeway for taking extraneous courses, finding out what a student is passionate about is important.
Vu said college is a great place to experience different interests, and suggested students refer to the course guide or get involved in various student organizations on campus to explore possibilities.
Getting an internship, studying abroad and volunteering can help build resumes and serve as valuable assets for future prospects.
“Experience new things and take opportunities to expand your skills,” Vu said. “Volunteering and taking part in the community can be a great way to determine if a career path is viable for certain individuals. It gets them to think about their future goals and aspirations.”
Pinpointing personal strengths through various career and personality assessments can help indecisive students determine the plan that best suits them, Vu said.
Self-assessments should focus on five main aspects of personal life: interests, skills, personality, diversity, and values and culture.
Evaluating these areas can help students gain perspective on planning by matching personal traits with corresponding degree and career plans.
Career and personality assessments are available through CAPS or the University Career Services.
Vu also worked to debunk common myths about the college exploration process — one of these being that humanities and liberal arts majors don’t have marketable skills. Alumni Career Services Assistant Director Casey Radle strongly advocates Vu’s stance.
“Liberal arts majors have excellent critical thinking skills and really strong communication skills — whether verbal, oral or written,” Radle said.
“They have excellent teamwork and leadership skills because they tend to do a lot of group projects and presentations, which serve them well in the work force.”
Radle, who used to work with the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said that these students have a greater ability to view issues from multiple perspectives, since the nature of their degree plans provides greater understanding of multicultural issues, a valuable skill in the global marketplace where business associates often come from a variety of backgrounds.
“The main thing about liberal arts students is that they’ve been learning to learn,” Radle said.
Students should not worry about a major being directly related to a specific future career goal, because employers aren’t necessarily looking for skills that can only be applied to their field.
“You have a brain in your head and you are trainable, and that’s what an employer wants — someone who can be trained to do the job at hand,” Radle said.