Exploratory Studies Explore. Discover. Decide

Explore Majors & Careers

Graphic showing the four exploration steps

Purdue offers over 200 degree options - and that is not even counting all of the specializations, concentrations, minors, and certificates you can earn!  In addition, the changing global landscape offers more career choices than ever before.  For a student exploring majors and careers, it can sometimes be an overwhelming process. 

How can you explore your options and choose the right major and career for you?  The best way is to break this complex decision into smaller pieces.  This gives you time to gather, and fully absorb, information and experiences.  Here is our four-step process:

Identify your abilities, values, interests, and goals

Questions to ask yourself

  • In a conversation, what are the most important things I want others to know about me?
  • What are my strengths?  In school?  In the community?  Within my family?  Within my group of friends?
  • When I reflect on my past jobs, volunteer experiences, and internships, what did I like the most and what did I like the least?  What sort of skills did I enjoy using or learning to use? 
  • Which school projects, hobbies, or activities are so fun that I lose track of time? 
  • What drives or motivates me to do my most meaningful or important work? 
  • What are problems or issues in the world that I wish I could solve?

Resources

Investigate college majors, coursework, and careers

Questions to ask yourself

  • Which majors does Purdue offer? What are the courses?  Which seem interesting?
  • What types of activities and assignments might I expect in the courses?  Do they match what I like to do or hope to learn?
  • What skills do I hope my favorite majors will teach me?  Do these match what I am seeing in the course titles and descriptions?
  • What are some career titles that I find interesting?
  • What are the daily tasks within the careers?  Am I interested in doing them?  
  • What is the work environment like in these careers?  Energetic with lots of people interaction?  Quiet?  Always changing or relatively steady?  Which might motivates me to do my best work?
  • Will I be working mostly with people, number and data, ideas and theories, or material things?  Which one do I most prefer or what is my best mix?

Resources

Network with students and career professionals

Questions to ask yourself

  • Who do I already know who is working in my major(s) of interest?
  • Do I have any family already in my career field(s) of interest?  Alternatively, can my parents or relatives connect me with someone they know in their workplace or friend circle?
  • What companies would I like to work for in the future?  What social media resources do they offer that I could connect to? 
  • If you were to interview someone within your major of interest, what are you most curious to know that you have not already found out online?
  • If you were to interview someone working in your career field of interest, what questions would you ask them?
  • Is the person I am interviewing typical or atypical for his or her major or profession?  Would I like working with or for this person? 

Resources   

Sample new academic and career experiences

Questions to ask yourself

  • Are there clubs I was involved in high school that I really loved?  Are there similar clubs at Purdue?
  • When I attend club call-outs or meetings, what do I think about the people and the projects they are doing?  Do I feel like I could fit in here?  Why or why not?
  • What are volunteer or job experiences that I would like to have to best determine what this job is *really* like? 
  • What “insider knowledge” would I like to know about the major or the career?
  • Are there other experiences that interest me?  Like working in a professor’s lab?  Assisting a department or computer lab (and being paid)?  Taking part in a study abroad experience (either short or long)? 
  • Does my major offer a co-operative education program or a required internship?

Resources