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Mythbusting Common Misconceptions in the Major to Career Pipeline

“What are you majoring in?” “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

These are some common questions your student may be asked from the time they are in high school through their time here at UC Davis. While these well-intentioned questions can come from friends, family members, professors, and peers, they may result in a variety of feelings for your student. Some students are still exploring their paths, and that’s okay! Career planning is a lifelong process, and there are many myths that can challenge your student along the way. Below, we have busted some common myths about majors and careers.

Myth #1 I have to choose a major when I apply to college.

While students may feel the need to choose a major before they even apply to college, students do have the opportunity to come to UC Davis without declaring their major. Students can enter UC Davis as “undeclared” if they are not ready to choose a major, and there are many resources on campus for students to explore what they want to major in once they are enrolled.

Encourage your student to try this Major Card Sort activity, where they have the opportunity to rank their interest in every major at UC Davis. Additionally, suggest your student schedule an appointment with a career advisors through Handshake. The Internship and Career Center (ICC) advisors cover many different career-related topics and can offer additional support. Students can learn more about what interest areas the Internship and Career Center covers here.

Myth #2 My major equals my career, and there are certain degrees I just can’t do much with.

A student’s major provides them with valuable knowledge and technical information about a subject, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to a career. Every major at UC Davis offers students the opportunity to explore multiple fields. You can search to see what paths previous UC Davis students have taken after graduation on the ICC’s Majors Data pages. To see a broader picture of what career fields each major offers, explore “What Can I Do with This Major?” for a peek at what people do with their degrees nationally.

Additionally, encourage your students to network with UC Davis alumni and people in their prospective fields. This can help students gain a deeper understanding of what knowledge and experience these fields require. Students can engage in informational interviews with professionals online or in person to explore careers and to build their networks.

Myth #3 I can get experience after I graduate; I don’t need work experience now.

While students’ foremost priority should be their academics, experience is an essential part of the career planning process. Having an internship, part time job, or volunteer experience can provide practical experience for students while allowing them to explore career options first hand. Additionally, many employers look for students to have experience on their resumes in addition to strong academic records. Experience allows students to develop technical and transferable skills that they can share with employers on resumes and cover letters. UC Davis data indicates that students who have part time jobs are one and a half times more likely to have a career position or graduate school acceptance at the time of graduation, and those who work part time and do an internship are twice as likely to have a career position or graduate school acceptance at the time of graduation.

While the career planning process can be daunting, there are many resources available at the Internship and Career Center for your student. Remind them that career exploration is a lifelong process and that the “right” path is the path that’s right for them.

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