Top Ten Ways to Explore with Purpose
What do we mean when we encourage students to explore with purpose? Essentially, we are asking you to be purposeful and intentional when searching for majors or careers of interests. At the University of Florida, there are over 100 majors available, and you may not have studied all of these areas in high school. Learning about these options and subsequently finding a good major fit is a process that requires ongoing self-assessment, frequent usage of many resources, and a willingness to be open to many possibilities!
For students on the exploratory track, the first three terms should be about exploring career and major options while trying to stay on track for different majors of interest. While often times general education coursework can be met while tracking for various majors, just remember that all courses should not be selected with the sole purpose of meeting these general education requirements. You have until graduation to finish general education requirements, so be sure to make the most of your first three terms as an Exploratory student! The tips below will help you to assess your current plans and ensure that you are exploring with purpose while at the University of Florida.
- Browse the Undergraduate Catalog. This is where you’ll be able to find a list of all majors at the university, a description of the major, and the coursework involved.
- Review majors at UF. You may find it easier to narrow down majors based on interest area. For example, are you excited about pursuing a career in health care, studying wildlife and animal behavior, or learning about the law and legal issues? Use this resource to develop a short list of majors you are really interested in and then begin to research those majors further.
- Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This online resource provides a detailed profile of multiple careers. Each career entry includes the training and education requirements, earnings, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job, and working conditions. At the bottom of each entry, you can also view related occupations. This is a great way to learn about similar careers which you may not have had awareness of or previously considered pursuing.
- Utilize the Career Resource Center. Consider taking the C.H.O.M.P. online assessment, then visiting the CRC to discuss your results. While you’re there, take advantage of other resources such as the career library and career counselors. Be sure to ask about the many internship, externship, and cooperative education opportunities offered through the CRC. These experiences can help you discover and broaden your interests.
- Start volunteering. Time spent volunteering can spark new interests and allow you to gauge your interest in other areas. Volunteering will also allow you to start networking with people in your field of interest, as well as give back to the community. To start volunteering, visit the Center for Leadership and Service.
- Take some elective courses and discover your areas of interest. Often times, students will need electives to meet their degree requirements, so do not worry that taking electives will put you behind your intended graduation date. A 1000 or 2000 level elective course is a great way to get familiar with material, but an upper-level course will let you explore even more in-depth a specific area of interest.
- Join a student organization. Student organizations provide an opportunity to learn valuable skills and gain leadership experience. Depending on the organization, you may also have a multitude of professional development opportunities available to you so you can begin to network and become more familiar with a specific interest area. A sortable list of Student Organizations can be found here through the Center for Student Activities and Involvement.
- Utilize the degree shopping tool. You can use the degree shopping function in ONE.UF to see how close you are to the tracking requirements of your major(s) of interest. You can also check out the types of courses required for each major, and click on the specific course to get a description.
- Conduct informational interviews. This is a great way to learn about a career from someone who is actually in that career. For an informational interview, you’ll want to schedule a meeting with someone who is currently working in a career field in which you are interested. Consider asking questions such as: What is a typical day for you? How did you end up in this position? What do you enjoy most and least about your job? Additional sample information interview questions can be found here.
- Connect with faculty and Undergraduate Advisors. Visit your professors during office hours to learn more about your field of interest. This will also help you to begin building relationships for letters of recommendation that will be necessary if applying to graduate school, law school, etc. Additionally, consider making an appointment with an Undergraduate Advisor. This advisor will be able to provide detailed information regarding the field and major coursework. See the Academic Advising Section for information on how to find the contact information for Undergraduate Advisors.