Nov 122007
Authors: Ann Malen

With the end of the semester drawing near and the anticipation of holidays with family and friends, are you prepared for the questions about what you have been doing this past semester and what your plans are for the future?

Does your family want to know what kind of job you will be prepared for with your current major?

Choosing a major is not the same thing as choosing a career. Majoring in psychology does not mean that you will leave college with a job in psychology, and majoring in art history does not mean that you are doomed to a low paying job.

A major is a particular path by which you develop knowledge and master a skill set.

What matters most on graduation day is the skill set acquired by the graduate through classroom and experiential opportunities.

Students can more fully develop the skills they learn in the classroom by devoting time to experiences that are relevant to career goals and to developing leadership skills. This can be achieved through internships, externships, volunteering, holding offices in clubs and organizations, and part time work.

Do your parents want you to follow a traditional career path because it will provide you more security?

The notion of “security” doesn’t exist as it did only a couple of decades ago. Today’s job market is in a constant state of flux, and high turnover rates are common.

Typical people have multiple jobs and careers over their lifetime. Job seekers and those currently employed need to keep up with rapid changes in technology and the workplace to be successful.

The “traditional” career path of today may not exist tomorrow. Flexibility, lifelong learning, and actively managing your work life are keys to having a secure career.

Is high salary an important area of discussion?

To be successful one has to possess both ability and interest. Having a great salary may make life a little easier, but if you dread going to work every morning what is that extra money worth?

Often a true enthusiasm for your work leads to promotions and unanticipated success. Examine your interests and abilities in light of the vast array of careers and you will likely find a pursuit that will provide both satisfaction and a comfortable living.

Are you feeling a push to go to graduate school right after you graduate because completing grad school will lead to a better salary/job?

The value of a graduate degree varies greatly from field to field. In some fields a graduate degree is highly desirable and even necessary for a professional position. However, in certain fields a graduate degree may actually have a negative impact on a graduate’s job search.

Some companies are more willing to train employees and later subsidize a graduate education than to pay higher salaries to entry-level employees with advanced degrees.

As higher education becomes more pervasive, hands on experience has become more valuable. Part of the process of evaluating whether or not to pursue a graduate program should be appraising the program’s value to your career goals.

The Career Center is here to help you with answers to these and other career questions. Please visit our new walk-in location at the Lory Student Center next to Sweet Sinsations or visit our website

You can also schedule an appointment with a career counselor by calling our Ammons Hall location at (970) 491-5707.

Ann Malen is the director of the Career Center. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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