Changed Your Mind?  Find Work Beyond Your Major 

 

Arrows showing two directions

https://www.diygenius.com/

So you’ve realized you don’t want to follow your major’s “career path”? No problem! For example, it may seem natural that if you earn a teaching degree, you’ll become a teacher. However, holding an education (or any other) degree can qualify you for jobs in a variety of industries including business, non-profit work, publishing, government and much more. You have developed skills through your coursework and activities, and there are plenty of positions that you can find outside of the expected career options. Identify your transferrable skills and match them with career fields of interest.

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Major Choice 101

List of UVM majors

If you’re like most students, choosing a major while applying to college is intimidating to say the least. After taking general high school classes, you’re suddenly expected to know what specifically you want to do for the rest of your life. Undoubtedly, choosing a major can be stressful and daunting, but there’s really no need to put more unneeded pressure on yourself (I’m sure your parents have already got that covered).

The good news for you is that, you’re here, at UVM—a University with incredible opportunities, resources, faculty and students. Instead of simply telling you not to worry or giving you some abstract advice on “pursuing your passion”, I am going to give you some concrete options and advice for choosing a major. Continue reading

A “MAJOR” Decision

Person in front of doors A and B with a question mark overhead

You may want someone to give you the magical answer. There is no perfect formula that fits everyone. “What should I major in?” is a personal question that may take some time to figure out.

Six Steps:

  1. Self Reflection: What is my goal? Is it to make money, follow a passion, do something I am good at, get a degree?
  2. Examine Abilities: What am I good at? What do I love to do (in school and outside school)?
  3. Values: What is important to me?
  4. Explore Future Options: What are other people doing who majored in this field?
  5. Reality Check: How long do I want to be in school? Do I need an advance degree? Identify obstacles.
  6. Narrow your Choices: What is available at UVM?

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Choosing a Major–A Major Adventure!

Woman drawing a 3D spiral off a wall

Undecided? Great! Some colleges use the word “exploratory” to identify students who have not yet decided on a major. It’s a great reminder that choosing a major can be a positive process that helps you make the most of your college experience!

Where to begin?

  • Start with some self-exploration. What interests you? What do you like to read… do….watch? What kinds of things intrigued you as a kid?
  • What are your options? You may be more decided than you think! Rule out those of no interest, and watch that list of possibilities shrink to something more manageable.
  • Get more info on majors you are curious about. Check out course listings, read course descriptions. Get brave! Follow up by meeting with a faculty member in the department and ask them to refer you to a student who is enjoying the major.
  • Test the waters by taking a course or two in the major. What piques your interest?

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World of Work: Hannah Richman ’08, California State Parks

Hannah Richman in her Park Ranger uniformHannah Richman ‘08
State Park Peace Officer (Ranger), California State Parks
Major: Anthropology & Political Science

How would you describe what you do on a typical day?

As a Park Ranger, I am charged with protecting the parks from the people and the people from the parks. It’s a balancing act between allowing people to explore and enjoy California State Parks while protecting the area for future generations to experience.

Tell us about your career path to this position.

I was an Anthropology major at UVM and had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. During my senior year of college, I went to a race at Angel Island State Park in California. When I got off the ferry, there was a Park Ranger on the island who struck up a conversation with me based on my hat (a State Parks hat I found at a thrift store). We started talking about his position and what an amazing job it was. He suggested that I go to the website and apply for a position in the spring. From there, it took me approximately 2 ½ years to get my job with the California State Parks and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What is your favorite part of your work?

Every park has different needs. At my current park I spend the majority of my time patrolling in various off-road vehicles, making sure the people are behaving safely, and rendering first aid where needed. A part of why I like my job so much is that I am not confined to doing just one thing. I always wanted to be a lawyer, teacher, doctor, or someone who doesn’t have to sit in an office all day. As a Park Ranger I am an EMT who gets to practice my skills on a regular basis, I have an extensive understanding of the law and the criminal justice system, and every day I get to speak with the public and teach them about the area they are visiting. As a bonus, I learn more about California’s natural and cultural resources every day.

What three words would describe your work environment?

Dynamic, Challenging, Entertaining

What advice do you have for students searching for jobs or internships in your field?

Anyone who is interested in working for California State Parks should go to www.parks.ca.gov and look under the jobs or volunteer headings. There are many opportunities to work for State Parks either as a volunteer or as a paid employee. Some of the jobs are part-time and seasonal positions and others are full-time employment. The Park Ranger position has many steps. Once the position is announced, the first step would be filling out a standard application found on the State Parks website.