Choosing a Major & Exploring Careers

Whether you’re declaring your major for the first time, switching majors, or exploring what you can do with your major, we can help.

Many students have multiple interests and multiple skills, which can make it difficult to settle on a major. For liberal arts majors, this may seem further complicated by the sheer adaptability of your major, and the vast array of options you could pursue upon graduation. 
In Career Development, we can help you…

  • explore majors offered at Willamette, and how they connect to different career communities
  • explore careers that use your unique combination of interests, skills, values, and personality
  • develop an area of focus or identify a cluster of careers that you’d like to pursue 
  • identify skills and experiences you’d like to gain before you graduate.
  • create a plan for gaining experience in a given career community
  • assess your background and experiences in order to clarify or narrow your ultimate post-graduation plan

Exploring careers is a multi-step process, and one that we encourage you to approach throughout your college career—not just once when you choose a major. This 4-year plan is just one way of thinking about your timeline, though it can be different for every student. 

Below are some tools to help you navigate this process, whether you’re a first-year student or about to graduate. And remember we also offer one-on-one Career Advising. 

How Important is My Major? 

Often students ask, “Does my major matter?” It depends. For most careers, what matters are the experiences you gained while pursuing your major, and the transferable skills you developed. The following links provide some additional insight into the relative importance of your college major. 
-New York Times: Four Steps to Choosing a Major 
-College Board: Explore College Majors

Explore Majors & Degrees at Willamette

One of the best ways to explore majors is to research each department, and review the required courses for that degree. Explore faculty members too—their areas of expertise, and the courses they teach. Ask yourself if this is a subject you’d like to explore in more depth. 
-Degrees and Majors at Willamette 

What Can I Do with my Major?

Once you’ve chosen a major, a common question becomes, “What next?” A liberal arts education lays the foundation for numerous options. These links are a good way to begin brainstorming. As you look through the listed options, take note of any job that piques your interest, as well as overall work settings. 
-What Can I do with this major?
-Transferable Skills by Major
-You are doing what with your major?

Career Communities

Often students gravitate towards an overall cluster of careers, rather than a specific occupation (at least initially). A general theme or cluster is a great place to start as you think about your plans for the future. Explore our “Career Communities” to gain a better understanding of these broader themes, and how they can lead you to a meaningful career. 
-Career Communities

Explore Careers

If there are some specific jobs you’ve been considering, take some time to look up the details, such as educational requirements, work environment, and job outlook. The following links provide all that information (and more), and are frequently updated with the latest statistics.
-O*Net 
-Occupational Outlook Handbook 
-Learn How to Become

Career Advising

It can be helpful to talk through your options, no matter where you are in your decision-making process. Career advisors are here to help. 
-Make an appointment for Career Advising