Exploring majors and careers

Important Information:

The Academic Advising Center & Career Services Offices strives to best serve all who utilize our services. Due to COVID-19, our office will not be conducting in person appointments anymore as of March 18, 2020. Instead we will be offering virtual appointments via phone call, email, or video chat Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Please note that due to the constantly evolving circumstances, it may take longer than normal to hear back, and we will be updating our website as things progress. 

Virtual Drop-In Peer Advising

If you have a quick academic or career advising question, our Peer Advisors are available to chat with you without an appointment Monday-Thursday from 10am-4pm & 6pm-8pm or Friday from 10am-2pm.

  1. Use your UWL credentials to login to Microsoft Teams
  2. Type peeradvisors@uwlax.edu into the search bar at the top of the page and hit Enter
  3. Use the chat box at the bottom of the page to type your question

Making Academic Advising Appointments

If you are assigned in our office, you can make your appointment online through Navigate, email your advisor, or email advising@uwlax.edu.

If you are not assigned an Academic Advisor in our office, you can make an appointment by emailing advising@uwlax.edu.

Making Career Advising Appointments

To make an appointment for career advising, you can do so online through Navigate or by emailing career@uwlax.edu.

Our access to our main department line is limited to listening to voicemail messages, and as such, we request that if possible you email either advising@uwlax.edu or career@uwlax.edu in order to receive a more prompt response.

 

Last Updated: 3/26/20 at 8:34 a.m.

Step 1 - Self-assessment expanding section

Self-knowledge is critical when making decisions about your future. Are you able to answer the following questions in-depth? 

  • What do I like (interests)?
  • What am I good at (skills/abilities)
  • What is important to me (values)?

Your personality is the collection of physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics that define you as an individual. You should try to indentify majors & careers that fit your personality, thus providing you the opportunity to be "yourself".

Resources:

  • Focus 2 is UWL's online career & education planning tool which helps you assess your interests, skills, and values. Focus 2 can be used at any stage of your education to see which area of study/career fields may be a fit.

    Login Instructions:  

    • Login in to Handshake
    • Click on "Career Center" and select "Resources"
    • Click on "Focus 2" tile and follow the link
    • Select "Register" to create an account
    • Once logged in, view the "instructions" tab at the top of the page for additional guidance

    After completing a Focus 2 assessment, review your results and discuss them with an advisor in Academic Advising Center & Career Services.

  • Personality Characteristics Worksheet- University of Denver Career Center
  • 16 Personalities

Interests are things you enjoy doing or would like to experience. You may find that some of your interests are related to majors or careers, while others may be related to a hobby. While your career does not need to include all of your interests, people who have a career based on some of their interests are generally happier and more fulfilled with their work. 

Resources: 

  • Focus 2 is UWL's online career & education planning tool which helps you assess your interests, skills, and values. Focus 2 can be used at any stage of your education to see which area of study/career fields may be a fit.

    Login Instructions:  

    • Login in to Handshake
    • Click on "Career Center" and select "Resources"
    • Click on "Focus 2" tile and follow the link
    • Select "Register" to create an account
    • Once logged in, view the "instructions" tab at the top of the page for additional guidance

    After completing a Focus 2 assessment, review your results and discuss them with an advisor in Academic Advising Center & Career Services.

  • Strong Interest Inventory - The Strong Interest Inventory measures your level of interest in occupational areas, activities, school subjects, and work environments. It then compares your interests with working professionals in a wide variety of occupations. Please contact the AACCS if you would like information on taking the inventory.

Skills are involved in the process of using ability and knowledge to perform an activity or task successfully. Most skills may have to be learned and developed. You may find that you have an interest in a major or career that you do not currently have the skills for, so understanding your desire and aptitude to learn a skill is important. 

Resources:  

  • Focus 2 is UWL's online career & education planning tool which helps you assess your interests, skills, and values. Focus 2 can be used at any stage of your education to see which area of study/career fields may be a fit.

    Login Instructions:  

    • Login in to Handshake
    • Click on "Career Center" and select "Resources"
    • Click on "Focus 2" tile and follow the link
    • Select "Register" to create an account
    • Once logged in, view the "instructions" tab at the top of the page for additional guidance

    After completing a Focus 2 assessment, review your results and discuss them with an advisor in Academic Advising Center & Career Services.

Values are the core set of beliefs that influence how you live your life. Identifying work values may allow you to identify majors & careers that are aligned with your personal values. Finding a major or career that aligns with all of your values may not be possible, but you should indentify choices that fit with the things that are the most important to you. 

Resources:  

  • Focus 2 is UWL's online career & education planning tool which helps you assess your interests, skills, and values. Focus 2 can be used at any stage of your education to see which area of study/career fields may be a fit.

    Login Instructions:  

    • Login in to Handshake
    • Click on "Career Center" and select "Resources"
    • Click on "Focus 2" tile and follow the link
    • Select "Register" to create an account
    • Once logged in, view the "instructions" tab at the top of the page for additional guidance

    After completing a Focus 2 assessment, review your results and discuss them with an advisor in Academic Advising Center & Career Services.

Step 2 - Exploration expanding section

Knowing yourself is important, but so is knowing your options. Often, the best first step is figuring out the major that will fit you best; but this decision is sometimes made with a career goal in mind.

While it is true that certain majors will prepare you for a specific career, most occupations include people from a variety of academic backgrounds. This is because employers are seeking specific skills rather than a specific degree.

As you develop an interest in a major, ask yourself, what skills will I develop, and where can this major take me?

Make sure that you are aware of the majors offered at UW-La Crosse by reviewing the the list of majors and programs. You can also read through an overview of these majors:

If you do not know enough about a major, be sure to research it before ruling it out. Gain more information on your majors of interest by reviewing the websites of each. Consider the courses required, what skills you will gain, what their students are involved in, and anything else included on the website. 

Once you have a better understanding of the majors that may or may not work for you, do a simple elimination exercise to see which UWL majors best fit your interests:  

When starting your research of careers, there are multiple websites that will allow you to research specific occupations.  These websites provide relevant information about the nature of an occupation in terms of required education, skills & training, common tasks & duties, and work environment.  You may also be able to find salary ranges and the employment outlook for these occupations as well.  

Additionally, visit Handshake and view job postings in your area of interest. Job postings may allow you to see required skills, educational background, and potential salary ranges.

When scheduling allows, consider taking an Introduction/Foundation course to learn about a major or particular career interest. Whether part of General Education or an elective, it will help you understand whether the major or career is a good fit.

Even if you are actively seeking a job, attending career events during the academic year could be a great way for you to find out about internships and jobs associated with the career fields that you are exploring. This would also give you chance to network with employers and learn what skills they look for in employees. See Handshake for upcoming events!

An informational interview allows you to talk with a professional about required education & training, typical workdays, industry trends, networking opportunities, and more. If you're exploring majors, reach out to faculty in the department about setting up an informational meeting. 

If you are serious about the profession, a job shadow can provide you with a glimpse of what an individual actually does in their occupation. While observing, you can ask questions similar to those in an informational interview.

Wings gives you the ability to create a "What If" advisement report for specific majors you're considering. This feature allows you to see the required classes for the major, any potential admission requirements for the major, and any requirements for the college that the major belongs to. When looking at required classes, you are able to see their course descriptions as well.

If you still need help, advisors in the AACCS are available to assist all UW-La Crosse students that would like help exploring majors. Make an appointment via Navigate

Sometimes you need to try things in order know whether they are a fit. Whether it's an internship, part-time job, student organization, or volunteer experience, their are many ways to get to know majors and professions. Learn more about gaining experience.

Step 3 - Identification expanding section

After gathering information about yourself, majors, and careers, you are hopefully now in a position to narrow down your options. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Does the course work in the major match my interests?
  • What would I enjoy about the required classes in the major?
  • What would I find difficult about the required classes in the major?
  • Do I enjoy the skills that the major or career will require?
  • Are there minors that might complement the major?
  • Will there be admission requirements that I need meet to gain entry to the major or career?
  • Will the approximate length of time needed to complete the major & degree requirements be acceptable? 
  • Does the major allow me to pursue the career goals that I have in mind at this point?
  • Am I choosing the major or career for myself, or to please family & friends?

Here are a few resources to use as you evaluate your choices:

Step 4 - Take action expanding section

After you have made a decision, finalize your plans:

  • Declaring your major by submitting a "Change of Program" form to the College/School that your major belongs to.
  • Once assigned, make it a priority to schedule a meeting with your new academic advisor to discuss your academic goals.
  • Use WINGS's "My Planner" (tutorial) and/or a Degree Planning Worksheet to plan for courses in your major and other degree requirements.
  • Gain experience in your areas of interest.

 Additional Resource:

Talking to parents about major choice - University of Vermont