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Explore majors and careers

A page within Pre-Health Student Resource Center

Career exploration is a process that takes time and real effort. Prepare yourself for twists and turns and have an open mind. Also, while this section of the website is organized in steps, keep in mind that many of these steps can happen at the same time. You may need to cycle back to a step - for example, an experience you have might force you to re-examine who you are. This is all part of the longer process.

Note: If you're looking for information on a specific area within healthcare, first try our Healthcare pathways page. For more in-depth info on a given pathway, you might contact the experts - information on who to contact here

While some students assume that career exploration is mainly about gaining knowledge of careers, the first step is actually to learn about yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • What are my interests? What do I enjoy doing?
  • What are my skills? What do I do well?
  • What are my values? What are my beliefs and what matters to me?

The closer you are to answering these questions, the more likely you are to identify a career fit when you see it.   

A few ways to explore your interests, skills, and values early in college:

  1. Take a career and/or personality assessment, such as Focus 2 - the Academic Advising Center and Career Services frequently offer Focus 2 workshops (see Handshake's events listings). Avoid becoming focused on the careers the assessment lists as "matches", as these are just suggestions to explore. And remember that "helping people" takes many forms - be ready to explore options you had not considered. Discuss your results with an advisor in the Academic Advising Center and Career Services office. 
  2. Take classes based on interest, not just requirement. Introduction to Health Professions (HP 106) is an easy option, but you should also use the course catalog to explore non-health-related departments that offer health-related courses, such as Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, and Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Be prepared to take introductory courses prior to upper level (300/400) courses.
  3. Reflect - keep a journal, talk with friends/family, and meet with advisors in the Academic Advising Center and Career Services. 

This should be done before, during, and after your other exploration activities - your reactions will change as you gain new perspectives. There are many sites with career related info, but here are some good places to start:

Gain experience, related and unrelated to what you think want to do. Do job shadows and informational interviews with anyone who will talk to you or allow you to shadow. Attend events, including career fairs, networking events, and exploration workshops.

Once you have a few career paths that you're interested in, find websites that give you more in-depth information. 

Association and "accreditation" websites give you the most official word on each profession. Here are a few examples:

Talk to people who work in the field - we have many right here at UWL! See our Healthcare contacts page to learn who you might contact within different areas of healthcare. 

Blogs, forums, podcasts, and sites with videos are easy to digest, and can often help you get a feel for a career. 

Throughout all of your experiences, it's helpful to keep track of your thoughts - a journal works well! Ask yourself some key questions: 

  • What stands out to me about these career paths? Why are they a fit?  
  • Am I enjoying these experiences? What don’t I enjoy and how likely is that to go away? 
  • Am I excelling in my classes? Is this normal? What can I do to improve?  
  • Will the length of time needed to complete the major & pre-requisites be acceptable?  
  • Are there minors that might complement the major I’m considering? 
  • Am I choosing the major or career for myself or to please family & friends? 

An advisor can help you answer these questions! If you've read this far, it's time to email - from there, we can set you up with an appointment.

Decisions don't have to be final, but they need to be made - use our healthcare pathways page to help you narrow down career options. Use process of elimination to narrow down majors (print this PDF).

Once you've made a decision, you can change your major or add a pre-health track to your official UWL record. The change will then be reflected in your WINGS account.

Worried that your choice will disappoint or confuse someone (such as parents)? Go here for a guide on sharing your plans with others.