The relationship between major and career is indirect and complicated. Deciding on a major, whether you are choosing one or contemplating a change, can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to connect the major to some future career.
Sometimes, the relationship between the two can look linear: major → career. For example, Stony Brook’s major in journalism would prepare you to be a journalist; the major in chemical engineering would prepare you to be a chemical engineer.
But, the relationship between major and career usually looks like this:
MINOR & ELECTIVES
LEADERSHIP ACTIVITIES JOB REQUIREMENTS
PART TIME JOBS/INTERNSHIPS GRAD SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS
FULL TIME JOBS
SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
The relationship between major and career is indirect and more complicated than you’d probably expect. Every major leads to a wide variety of career options. For example:
The purpose of a liberal arts education is less to give you hard job skills than to teach you how to do things like write well and think critically – transferable skills that are essential in any job.
D id you know that studio art majors can become doctors or lawyers (if they complete the requirements for medical and law school respectively)?
Your major is only ONE part of what your future employer or graduate school will consider. The key is to combine your academic study with experience that adds to your skills and refines your interests.
But your major will most likely have a direct effect on your feelings of academic engagement, your passion for learning, and your overall satisfaction with college – so you should still choose carefully! Here are some steps you can take:
- Look at the list of available majors to see what your options are. Use the links to learn more about what each major is, what it requires, and the courses and faculty involved, as well as to get contact information for the department.
- Read about the career-related skills you would gain through each major.
- Try a class in a major that interests you, and see how you do!
- Attend a workshop at the Career Center.
- Enroll in CAR 110.
- Take a self-assessment inventory .
- Schedule an appointment with a career counselor.
- Browse through our many resources to explore occupations and employers .
The Career Development Cycle model was created to help students better understand the process of career development. You should touch upon each part of this cycle throughout your college experience. Over time, you will find yourself building up both your resume and your confidence in a particular career direction.
Getting experience can involve anything from taking a class that interests you to joining a club or completing an internship. Experiencing something will allow you to distinguish between your likes and dislikes. Further, this will help you discover where your strengths and/or weaknesses lie.
Reflection is a great way to understand your experiences more fully. Whether using a career log, journal writing, or talking with a career counselor, this practice can help you organize your thoughts, better understand yourself and create career goals.
The career direction you think you want to pursue after graduation. This may be as specific as “I want to be a pediatrician” OR may be more broad like “I want to work with children.”
Career competencies are the skills required to successfully perform a job. Until now, “career readiness” has been hard to define, which made it difficult for leaders in higher education, workforce development, and public policy to work together effectively to ensure the career readiness of today’s graduates.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), through a task force of select professionals, identified eight competencies associated with career readiness.Read More
Gathering information about careers and professions can be a difficult task. We have provided you with a number of resources we trust for information about the professions you may be interested in pursuing.
Through the Career Center, you have access to occupational profiles, industry overviews, in-depth employer profiles, the "electronic water cooler" message boards, employee surveys, salary trends, and more.
For hundreds of jobs, the Occupational Outlook Handbook tells you:
- The training and education you will need
- Expected job prospects
- What workers do on the job
- Working conditions
A product of the NY State Department of Labor, CareerZone is a free career exploration and planning system designed especially for New York State students.
NACE collects job offer salary information to compile a list of salaries by degree level and other factors.
Salary.com's cutting-edge technology is integrated with actionable data and content, empowering customers to make the best decisions about pay.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Careeronestop is your source for career exploration, training and jobs.
The O*NET database provides extensive information about various careers, including: the kinds of tasks one would perform in a certain career, the tools and technology used in the occupation, skill sets, abilities, knowledge, what is needed to go into that occupation, related occupations, and much more.
Networking & Mentoring
We offer a variety of ways for you to learn from alumni and friends about careers: Formal mentoring programs, Alumni Association LinkedIn Group page, alumni career articles in Stony Brook Matters, and alumni virtual panels.
Career Commnities Mentoring program (six month)
The Career Communitites Mentoring program takes place from October through April and will require 4-5 meetings. Applications to participate start in late August and early September.
Micro-mentoring program (one-time connection)
If you are interested having a one-time career conversation (micro-mentoring) with a SBU Mentor, this is the program for you. A SBU Mentor is a professional who volunteers his or her time to network, provide advice, and provide career insight for students and recent alumni. This program are about making connections and sharing information – not about asking for jobs/internships. Attend one of our workshops to learn more about this program. Check Handshake for upcoming Networking for Career Success workshops.
Network with Alumni on LinkedIn
LinkedIn’s Stony Brook University Alumni page
provides high-level insights about alumni of your school, as well as access to the more detailed professional profiles they've shared
Stony Brook University Alumni Association Linkedin Group
Use Linkedin to reach out and network with alumni and friends. The Career Center will reach out to SBU Mentors and initiate your career conversations. Attend our Networking for Career Success workshops to learn more.
Alumni Career Virtual Panels
Visit Handshake for upcoming virutal events.
Additional Ways to Learn From SBU Alum:
The Stony Brook University Alumni Association and the Career Center organizes a large-scale networking mixer to help promote and facilitate connections between students and alumni; and also provides opportunities for alumni to alumni to network. This event usually takes place in March/April.
Making educated career decisions can be difficult at any stage of career development. The Alumni Career section in Stony Brook Matters is intended for Stony Brook University students and alumni to learn career knowledge and get advice from experienced alumni, working in various career fields, about lessons learned from their career experiences.
Tour Your Future Series offers alumni the opportunity to attend alumni employer site visits for ONE DAY. Alumni hosts will talk about their organization, industry, internships, and job opportunities. This is a chance for alumni to get the inside scoop and literally get their foot in the door. See Handshake for future tours.
Select past tours: CA Technologies, Bloomberg, The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Google
Have you heard about a “career test” that will tell you exactly what major or career path you should take?
That idea is a little misleading, because no website or piece of paper can truly know who you are and what’s best for you. However, there are self-assessment tools that can help you understand yourself better, which in turn can help you figure out what’s best for you.
A thorough self-assessment will consist of 4 factors:
What qualities do you value in your work and overall lifestyle? What motivates you and why? Some people want variety, autonomy, and flexibility, while others need security and prestige. There are no right or wrong answers here, so think of your ideal scenario.
Job satisfaction and success is closely linked to being interested in what you do. With an eye on future fulfillment, consider accomplishments, tasks or projects at which you excelled and which created a sense of pride and satisfaction.
Personality traits play a major role in job satisfaction and success, and being the right “fit” involves numerous factors. Personality inventories and assessments offer insight into how your personality compares to others and how you prefer to work.
Review your accomplishments to uncover skills critical to your success. Then think about how they connect to a potential career. This will help you understand what to market in your search.