Choosing your path

Upon enrolling in college for the first time nearly seven years ago at Weber State University, I promptly declared my major: history teaching. Since that day, I’ve switched majors four times.

My inability to choose and stick with a major is one shared by many college students. Statistics show that more than 50 percent of students will change their major at least once during their collegiate career.

This indecisiveness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What a student wants to do at 18 isn’t necessarily what they want to do at 25 or even 20. There is no limit to how many times someone can change their major, though most majors require certain classes before they’ll accept someone into the program, which means that too much switching can delay graduation.

So, how do you choose a major that you’ll be able to stick with? Perhaps the two most important factors are if you enjoy it and whether or not you’ll be able to make any money doing it.

This is where Career Services comes in. It’s hard to predict how the job market will be in one year, let alone four years. The current economic situation we’re in has stocks and jobs rising and falling on a whim. Talking with a career counselor can greatly help you figure out the best course of action to take.

To give an idea of the current job market, in the last month there was an increase of 38,000 jobs in the health and education field; an increase of 34,000 in the professional field, including accounting, business and computer sciences, and a 26,000 increase in the retail field, while the most drastic decrease was in government jobs, which cut 37,000 jobs.

On top of helping you figure out your best chances of landing a job after graduation, your career counselor can help you decide if your major is a good long-term fit for you — basically, whether or not you’ll be happy doing this in 50 years.

I showed up at Career Services looking for a quick interview, but was surprised to have the tables turned on me. Winn Stanger, director of Career Services, took this time to ask me questions, and gave me a lot of information that surprised me.

Dr. Stanger is very good at his job, and that job is giving you information to help you make a smart decision. Among his many resources is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which gives a 10-year outlook for just about any career you can think of.

Along with dazzling me with numbers and figures, Dr. Stanger gave me some tips on the strongest career industries right now. Health care, financial, engineering and human resources fields are all solid — for now.

Kathy Culliton, an associate professor at the school of nursing, also recommends the medical field. According to her, medical jobs fluctuate with the economy, but it always stabilizes itself, and it provides job security that few fields offer. People will always need doctors and nurses, whereas video games, for example, are not as certain.

No matter what you’re going to school for, I would recommend talking to a career counselor and an academic adviser. They can help you take the first steps on what can be a long and happy career path.