Major and Career Discernment

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of a career and not sure where to start?  Does turning on Netflix sound much more appealing right now?  We know - it’s hard.  But the good news is you have already started career exploration without even knowing it!  It is a process that evolves throughout your life and starts with learning about yourself.  Everything you have done up til now (think: academics, activities, jobs, service, etc.) informs your career decisions.  

There are 3 key questions to consider: 

  1. What brings you joy? 

  2. What are you good at? 

  3. What does the world need you to be?

By reflecting on these questions you will be able to make informed decisions regarding your career.  Remember, this is a journey - you don’t need to have all the answers right now.  You just need to take the first step.  

The resources below, as well as our career counselors, can help you explore a meaningful path that aligns with your values, interests, personality, and skills. If you are in the process of discovering your career interests, we invite you to join our exploration community to receive resources to assist you on your journey.

1 What Brings You Joy?

Start by learning about yourself.

Career exploration begins with looking inward and learning about yourself - your values and interests.  You will be more satisfied if you can implement this understanding of yourself in a future career.  Reflecting upon how you spend your time and topics that fascinate you are good places to begin.

Ways to start reflecting on this question:

-Seven Clues to get Started - These questions offer clues to understanding your interests, motivation, and values.  Complete this interactive activity and your responses will be emailed to you.

-Achievements Inventory - Use this tool to analyze a few accomplishments in terms of the skills you developed through those experiences.  Reflect upon two achievements, why you are proud of them, what skills you used, and whether or not you enjoyed using that skill.

-Prioritizing Your Values - This tool helps you identify your top work values.  Complete the interactive form to identify those values and learn about what they mean.  Your responses will be emailed to you.

-Work Satisfaction Inventory - This tool allows you to identify your top work satisfaction factors.  Complete this interactive form and your responses will be emailed to you.

-First Destination Data - This resource will help you learn what ND alumni are doing after graduation to give you an idea of the possibilities.  Scroll down to the Restricted Access Interactive Reports, choose the Class Major Data link for a given year, and log in with your net ID to explore first destinations of graduates by major, industry, location, and more.

-Pathway U - This is an on-line, self directed tool to walk you through evaluating your values, interests, personality and workplace preferences. After you complete the four assessments, an algorithm will suggest career paths which you may be interested in exploring.  If you have questions after completing don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a career counselor for additional direction.

-Strong Interest Inventory - This career assessment (not test - there are no right or wrong answers!) helps you learn more about your interests and how they may connect to career paths.  It helps you identify what motivates you.  To get started you must schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor to determine if this tool will be beneficial for you.



2 What Are You Good At?

Study what you enjoy and get involved

Learning about your skills and personality are key to answering this question.  Experiences help you to understand your skills and personality (not to mention your interests and values).  So take classes you enjoy and get involved on campus.  Think about how every class, activity, job, etc. has impacted you and allowed you to develop skills.  

Also remember that your major does not define your career path!  You will be more motivated to attend class and excel academically if you study something in which you are interested.  

Ways to start reflecting on this question:

-Skills Assessment: Inventory - Use this tool to assess your skills in a variety of categories and identify specific areas in which you excel. 

-Skills Assessment: Application - This resource will help you identify specific experiences in which you developed the top skills Employers are seeking.  

-Opportunities to Develop Your Skills - Review this list to identify different ways you can develop the top skills employers are seeking. 

-MBTI - This assessment (again, not a test) will help you understand your personality and preferences.  It can provide information about your preferred decision-making style, your source of energy, and how to receive and organize information.  Schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor to determine if the MBTI is a good fit for your career questions.

3 What Does the World Need You To Be?

Explore careers

Once you know more about yourself, you can look outward and begin identifying careers that may be a good fit.  You can research careers in a variety of ways - online research, talking to people in jobs of interest, participating in a job shadow, or interning with an organization. 

Ways to start reflecting on this question:

-What Can I Do With This Major - Use this tool to explore the many different career paths that students pursue in your major.  However, please know that you can go into many fields with your major - this just gives you an idea.  Consider looking at other majors as well to explore additional career paths you never may have known about.

-Vault - Explore Vault site for anything and everything you’d like to know about different industries and job roles.  Hover over Career Advice and click on Research Industries to learn about industries and affiliated career paths.  Click into career path titles within that section to garner in depth information about the many roles out there.

-O*NET - The O*NET site is the nation’s primary source of occupational information provided by the US Department of Labor. The jobs in this site range from part-time through extended education.  There are multiple ways to utilize the site.  One way is click on “What is O*Net” then click on the “Starting Points” tab then the Students section to help navigate this vast site.

-IrishCompass - Notre Dame’s own LinkedIn! All students are encouraged to build, build, build their Notre Dame network. ND alumni want to help you learn and develop in your careers.  On IrishCompass alumni have signed up and are waiting to hear from you to help you!  Seek out alumni using the many filters: location, job title, major, affiliations, etc.  Conduct informational interviews, participate in job shadows, learn about career paths, connect with alumni at organizations in which you are interested, the list is endless!

4 Reflect and Take Action

As you can see, reflection is a critical component of this process.  Every experience shapes you in some way so take some time to slow down and think about how these experiences have affected you.  You may take a step in exploring one career, realize it’s not for you, regroup, and begin exploring another career - that’s normal and it’s not a waste of time.  It’s all part of the career journey.

Remember, your career development is your responsibility!  It’s up to you to be an active participant in your career journey and in your decisions - no one can make those decisions for you!


Career Counselor:
Karen Manier

IrishCompass Mentorship - Having a mentor is one of the most valuable ways to build your professionalism and learn from someone who can give you advice on fields in which you are interested. Click on the Mentorship tab and search for someone who fits your interests.  We would be happy to help you navigate, just contact us.

Career Treks - We know that seeing, touching, hearing first hand is so valuable. That is why we offer many different career trek opportunities throughout the school year.  Click on our Career Trek page to find one that fits your interests.  

Feeling a spark of interest about a career path or two?  Check out our Career Paths page to assist you in starting your career exploration. But please know you can always come back to discernment if you discover that path is not for you.  Returning to the discernment phase is normal - remember, this is an ongoing, cyclical process!