Deciding On A Major

Smith Career Center (SCC) career advisors are available to assist students in exploring and defining career options. Some of the resources available include:

  • Individual meetings with a career advisor
  • Interest assessment and testing
  • Occupational reference materials
  • Career workshops
  • Pardieck Memorial Career Library

Choosing and Using Your Major Info Guide (pdf)

Any major can equip you with the knowledge and "transferable skills" that can eventually be applied to a wide range of jobs in many different fields. You can expect to change jobs about every seven years and the major you choose should help you develop skills and competencies that will assist you as your career changes. Think about what you will need in any job - communication skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, computer skills, and leadership/team-oriented skills.


Major
Any major can equip you with the knowledge and "transferable skills" that can eventually be applied to a wide range of jobs in many different fields. You can expect to change jobs about every seven years and the major you choose should help you develop skills and competencies that will assist you as your career changes. Think about what you will need in any job - communication skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, computer skills, and leadership/team-oriented skills.

How do I explore different majors/careers?

  • Become involved in the Academic Exploration Program (AEP) to learn more about various majors available at Bradley University.
  • Attend the Academic Majors & Minors Fair during the fall semester so you can meet departmental faculty, current students, and alumni from majors you're interested in exploring.
  • Join Student Organizations or Professional Societies.
  • Talk with a Smith Career Center Advisor to learn more about different fields, industries, and the services offered.
  • Learn more about your interests, skills, values, and personality style relate to careers. Call (309) 677-2510 for information about testing services.
  • Learn about different majors, the fields they work in, areas of employment, and strategies to help you prepare for the field through What Can I Do With a Major In . . .?.
  • Watch short videos on various careers through InsideJobs
  • Complete informational interviews or job shadowing with professionals working in the fields that interest you. These professionals could be Bradley Alumni or parents of Bradley students. Contact alumni through LinkedIn and BUconnect.
  • View working conditions, job descriptions, expected job prospects, and earnings of numerous careers listed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

 

Many components should be considered when choosing a career/major, such as:

  1. What are your interests? Consider…
    • Things you enjoy (work, activities, hobbies, etc.)
    • Environment (indoors, outdoors, combination)
    • Courses (projects, assignments, activities)
    • Things that do not interest you
    • Do you think you would be interested in the careers/work related to the major you are considering?
  2. What are your abilities? Think about…
    • Class and work performance
    • Talents (helping others, influencing, solving problems, working with numbers, using your hands, organizing)
    • Recognition and awards received for work, academics, activities
    • Do you have the ability to be successful in the major you are considering?
  3. What are your values? Reflect upon…
    • Religious, philosophical, moral, ethical beliefs/teachings
    • Things which are important to you (personal service, financial security, etc.)
    • Political stand on topics
    • Importance of family
    • What values match the requirements and outcomes of the major you are considering?
  4. What are your motivations? Take into account…
    • Interests, abilities, values, other
    • Outside pressures, what you "should" do
    • Ease of major
    • Good jobs, high salaries
    • Would your motivation be strong enough to allow you to succeed in a major even if other factors seemed to direct you away from that major?
  5. What are the realities? Weigh…
    • Situations that have strong and overriding influence on your choice
    • Conflict between interests, abilities, and job availability
    • Investment in the future, risk
    • Do your interests, abilities, values, and motivations conflict with each other, or are they in agreement?


Do your interests, abilities, values, and motivations conflict with each other, or are they in agreement?


Your education is more than your major
Students choose a major based upon many different factors - how well it will prepare you for your future career, money/earning potential, or even because of advice received from a trusted person (former teacher, friend, etc.). Other things that might influence decisions include the current job market, media attention on specific professions, global changes, and up-and-coming fields.

Skills
When you graduate from Bradley, the truly "marketable skills" which you take with you will be those that you have learned from all life's experiences. As you look over the skills employers want in their employees, you will see that academic coursework, work experience, volunteer experiences, and family responsibilities all help you acquire, develop and refine of your skills.
Consider some of these key transferable skills:

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

  • Verbally communicate ideas and concepts
  • Listen objectively
  • Write in a grammatically correct, well-organized and appropriate style
  • Bargain or discuss a view toward reaching agreement


HUMAN RELATIONS SKILLS

  • Interact cooperatively with others
  • Understand group interaction
  • Instruct or train individuals


PLANNING SKILLS

  • Evaluate positive and negative outcomes of all viable alternatives
  • Accommodate multiple demands
  • Set goals and implement a plan of action


LEADERSHIP SKILLS

  • Motivate and sustain group cohesion
  • Delegate tasks and responsibilities
  • Earn respect


ATTITUDE AND PERSONAL SKILLS

  • Assume responsibility and accept criticism
  • Take initiative
  • Demonstrate commitment to work


SOCIAL SKILLS

  • Relate easily in social situations
  • Interact effectively with diverse individuals
  • Dress presentably for a wide variety of situations


VALUING SKILLS

  • Assess values and make ethical decisions
  • Analyze situations using an interdisciplinary approach
  • Respect values and customs of diverse cultures


ANALYTICAL SKILLS

  • Think logically and critically
  • Solve problems creatively and imaginatively
  • Identify causes, consequences, and the meaning of events


RESEARCH AND INVESTIGATIVE SKILLS

  • Define a problem
  • Identify and use appropriate resources
  • Design a research model or plan