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Exploring majors

Resources and support to learn about VT majors, related careers, and the process of choosing your major.

Your major matters, but you are much more than just your major! When you seek a post-grad job, employers will look at your extracurricular activities, your experience related to your career interests, and more. Major alone won't get you hired. The sum-total of your experience, in and out of the classroom, will help determine your opportunities. Keep the big picture in mind as you explore majors.

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When researching majors, use multiple sources to gather as much information and perspective as possible. Do research so you can answer, for yourself, many of the questions below; seek answers on the webpage for the major, and by talking with academic advisors, faculty, students who are ahead of you in the major, alumni, and career advisors.

General:

  1. Why should you consider this major?
  2. If this is a restricted major, what do you need to do to be a competitive internal transfer?
  3. What is expected of students entering this major (skills, time commitment, attitude)?
  4. What introductory courses are offered that will help you explore this major?
  5. What type of coursework and projects (essays, papers, group projects, research, assignments) can you expect in the courses for this field?
  6. What skills will you gain as a result of being in this major?
  7. If you are a creative person, is this a major where you can use and develop your creativity?
  8. What minors does this college/school offer? What minors do students in this college/school typically pursue?
  9. What minor(s), combined with this major, would enhance your employment qualifications?

What are support, co-curricular and experience opportunities related to a major?

  1. Scholarships?
  2. What types of experience are encouraged or required? Internships, co-op, field study, other experiential learning? Will the major department give you guidance in seeking a position?
  3. Clubs, organizations, and/or student associations?
  4. What other opportunities exist for leadership or involvement in the department?

What are the academic advising procedures of the college, school, or department?

  1. Who are the advisors? What roles do professors and professional advisors have for advising students?
  2. Are students advised individually or in groups?
  3. When and how often are students expected to meet with their advisors?
  4. Are there information session for the major?

Career topics

  1. What kinds of careers have alumni pursued with this major?
  2. What might be some unexpected careers alumni pursued with this major?
  3. How does this major help prepare students for the obvious careers; e.g. CS for computer programming?
  4. And the not-so-obvious ones; e.g. biology major prior to law school; history major leading to business management opportunities?
  5. What career-related skills can you expect to gain as a result of this major?
  6. Is graduate study or professional school required or suggested to pursue career fields related to this major?
  7. How can you get in contact with current students or Virginia Tech alumni to talk about their experiences in the major or real-world success with this major after graduation? (hint: Virginia Tech LinkedIn site to explore alumni by careers also in "talk to people" below.) Does the major or college offer any career networking events?

We ask all new VT grads to tell us their first destination after the undergraduate degree. This is the first job, or grad school immediately following the bachelor's degree, so of course this does not tell us the longer term career path that each graduate takes.

What can I do with this major?
CPD has purchased this resource for use by VT students, to be accessed from the CPD website (so if you try to bookmark the web address, that won't give you access).

Learn about career areas and employers that hire people with each major, and strategies to make you a more marketable candidate.

  • Health Professions Advising (HPA) is located in Career and Professional Development and provides detailed information and support on undergraduate coursework and other preparation for many health professions that require education beyond the bachelor's degree.

Of course no one else can make decisions for you, but they can offer you valuable advice and perspective so that your decisions are based on more complete information. You'll formulate the best questions with some advance research.

Advising in the university:

Working world information sources:

  • Hokie Mentorship Connect enables you to connect with Virginia Tech alumni for career information and advice.
  • Virginia Tech LinkedIn site to explore alumni by careers
  • Arrange informational interviews with people you know to learn about their career paths and fields.
  • Career fairs
    Most focus on career fields (although some are geographic-focused and multi-career). Important: the employment world is not organized by major. Do your homework before participating. See each fair website to see who's attending and the types of jobs they offer. Employers are impressed by students who are prepared. Participate to learn more first-hand from employers about internships and entry-level career options.