Question: How do I pick my major if I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up? Answer: Start with the end in mind. As with writing a speech, you determine what your objective is and what it is you hope to instill in your audience, and only THEN do you begin to write your speech. Make sense? Same with job searching, picking a major, choosing internships, finding related clubs and activities, and more: You begin with the end in mind. Related: 3 Ways To Increase Your Job Satisfaction Every step you take, even in the moment, is another step on a path that will lead to one place or some other. Once you define you want to go north, south, or anywhere in between, you can take out a compass and start down the path. I tell people just starting college, “job satisfaction years from now will be affected by the decisions you make today.” That being the case, why not try to define “job satisfaction” now? For many young people, the reason they don’t is they don’t yet know what job they want. Nonetheless, without a sense of what “job satisfaction” may be for you, it will be very difficult to pick the right major; so let’s start with that – job satisfaction.
5-Step Method For Defining Job SatisfactionAt the core of job satisfaction is an understanding of what it is you enjoy most. To understand what it is you enjoy most, you have to define ALL you enjoy, from most to least; an exercise that will help lead to a decision regarding not only your major, but internships and future job development. Sound enticing? That’s why we approach this not as an exercise to pick a major but to define job satisfaction (we begin with the end in mind). Afterward, we will see how it can lead you back to defining your major, so let’s begin!
1. Determine What Job Satisfaction Means To YouFor some, job satisfaction stems from the challenges in the job or a sense of purpose. For others, it's more extrinsic and may be measured by the money they make. Or, it may come from the learning that takes place or from knowing their work matters. Finally, for others, simply having a job to go to everyday in order to have other things in life is fine, and it's from accepting that they derive their satisfaction.
2. Define Factors For Your Job SatisfactionDefining the factors for your own job satisfaction requires you jumping all the way back to the beginning. This could be your first job as, for example, a life guard in a day camp at 16 or a paper route at 12. However, instead of identifying duties, responsibilities, and job descriptions as you might for a resume, look at your successes and the underpinnings of those successes. Underpinnings such as:
- Instinctive skills – the automatic, the intuitive, creative skills that you drew upon at that time
- Learned skills – that might be customer service, inventory control, basic accounting or program management
3. Consider Other Successes Outside The WorkplaceWhen you take this walk-through, consider the following: alumni associations, community and civic organizations, councils with which you may have been involved, teams on which you played, or Boards on which you served.
4. Identify Success AttributesOnce you have all these successes on the table, you can identify (a) actual skills, (b) personal characteristics, (c) professional characteristics and (d) knowledge areas, inherent or learned that you drew upon to succeed. These are the "underpinnings" or as I refer to them, success attributes, many of which may be derived from core competencies you possess. Don't stop here!
5. Divide Motivated And Unmotivated SuccessesOn a piece a paper, set up a “T-Chart” with Motivated and Unmotivated Successes written across the top of your sheet as your left and right headings, respectively. Next, divide and list your “success attributes” defined in step 4 above, into your two groups under the headings.
- Motivated successes - those you are interested in perpetuating
- Unmotivated success – though they are successes, they are those which you have little or no interest in perpetuating