Major and career exploration
Choosing a major or potential career path is an important, personal decision. It requires research, reflection, and time. To start the process, it is important to understand yourself and gain knowledge about majors and the world of work. There can be many paths to a career, so when you research majors, consider the career options associated with them, but also keep in mind that your career choice may not always be defined by your major choice. The more research and reflection you do, the more confident you will be in making an educated choice.
Learn about yourself
As you begin the major and career exploration process, it is important to first understand yourself and what is important to you in a major and career. Reflect upon what your personality type is, what your strengths and skills are, what you value, and what interests you. Career assessments can be helpful in better understanding yourself. CSE Career Services offers PathwayU which looks at your interests and values, and highlights careers that may be a good fit for you. To access PathwayU, please contact Career Services at email@example.com.
Before you choose a major, it is important to understand what major options exist and which ones interest you. As you explore majors, consider which ones excite you, what subjects you enjoy studying, and which majors would give you the type of job options you are interested in.
Read about course options, career paths, research opportunities, events, and more on the undergraduate major webpages.
Visit the University-wide website to learn more about U of M Majors and Minors.
What Can I Do With a Major In...?
You can find detailed information about each major, related industries, companies that hire that major, occupational titles, salary and career outcome data, and Q&As with CSE alumni on the "What Can I Do With a Major In...?" webpages.
Talk to Others
Talk to department faculty and academic advisors about the specifics of major programs. Department contact information can be found on each four-year plan. You can also talk with students in the majors you are interested in—and watch this student video series "Why I Chose My Major?." The CSE Student Ambassadors offer a mentor program for first-year students.
Student organizations offer several mentorship opportunities. For more information about student organizations, visit the CSE student groups webpage.
You can also request a Major Mentor from the Center for Academic Planning (CAPE). For more details, visit the CAPE website.
Take introductory courses
Take introductory courses in the subject(s) in which you are interested. Talk to your academic advisor about options and how these fit into your academic plan.
It’s difficult to choose a career path before you understand what people in that profession do. Use a variety of resources and talk to people in career fields of interest to gain an in-depth understanding of what it’s like to be in those positions.
Course selection is important when choosing a major. Pay particular attention to each major's four-year plans. Seeking course selection guidance from your academic advisor is critical as you determine your path through your chosen major's curriculum.
Each department has recorded department information session webinars to help first-year students understand their department's majors more in-depth. Faculty and staff from the departments help explain what first-year students need to understand if they are interested in a particular major.
Other online resources
There are several websites that offer detailed career information, such as job duties, education/training, projected job growth, and salary data. As you read about these careers, reflect on if you think that job would be a good fit for you. Identify what you like about it, what you don’t like, and what you have further questions about.
Career Information and Statistics from the Government:
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
- CAREERwise (specific to Minnesota)
Career Profile Videos:
Engineering Career Profiles: DiscoverE
Informational Interviewing & Job Shadowing
Talking with people who are in a career of interest to you is a way for you to gather information about a certain career field and a particular position. An informational interview is a meeting in which you can ask about the real-life experience of someone in a field or company that interests you. These opportunities are invaluable because you gain first-hand information. Often students find informational interviews helpful when making major and career decisions because they receive insight as to what it is really like to have a certain career, and then they can assess their interest in the career.