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The Who, What, How of the Major Exploration Process

Students walking on campus

Step 1: Self-Assessment – “Who”

Learn more about yourself and what you want out of a job before you explore various majors and careers. You can start cataloging this self-knowledge by focusing on four different categories:

  1. Personality – Your personality should fit with a career to increase your satisfaction with your work. Are you social? Do you crave organization? Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
  2. Interests – What do you like to do in your free time? What do you like to learn about, talk about, read about, etc.? Is there a career that involves your interests?
  3. Skills – A major or career should fit with your skills.  Are you comfortable with math? How do you learn and use technology? Can you be creative in your work?
  4. Values – What is important to you in a career?  There are intrinsic (intangible) and extrinsic (tangible) values to consider when exploring careers.

For your values consider:

  • variety and change at work
  • helping others or society
  • opportunities to express your creativity
  • working for a good cause
  • having control/power/authority
  • travel
  • individual or team work
  • regular or variable work hours

Step 2: Use Your Resources – “What”

Utilize various resources to explore career options, research careers of interest, obtain useful job market information, and learn how potential careers align with who you are.

Boise State Catalog

Become familiar with all of the Boise State degrees. Review the summary of programs and courses in the Undergraduate Catalog to see all of the possibilities.

Major Finder

Major Finder is an interactive tool to explore, search, and filter your Boise State degree options based on your interests.

Virtual Career Center

The Boise State Career Center offers a Virtual Career Center with useful online resources for students exploring majors and careers.

Step 3: Explore Careers – “What” continued

After your self-assessment and review of majors, you can look more closely at the careers that align with your interests and passions.

Occupational Outlook Handbook

Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook to research potential careers. Things you’ll learn include work environments, salary figures, job outlook percentages, duty summaries, and relatable skills. Exploring students can learn about the education pathway to a certain job by using the “How to Become One” tab on a career page.

What Can I Do With This Major?

The What Can I Do With This Major site can help you explore all the different career paths for a prospective major.

ACAD 109: Major Exploration

Want more structured assistance in exploring the WHO, WHAT, and HOW of major and career exploration? Boise State offers a 2-credit course, taught by a major exploration advisor, that guides students through the exploration process.

Final Steps – “HOW”

After you have identified a potential major, you’re ready to decide if it is your best option.

  • Meet with an academic advisor within the college or department of the major you are considering.
  • Take an University Foundations class in an area of interest.
  • Conduct an informational interview or job shadow a professional in a potential career.
  • Obtain a part-time job or internship to gain experience.
  • After you have decided: update your major and meet with an advisor in your updated major and create an academic plan