girl sitting in Shields Library writing on a notebook

Don't Be Afraid to Change Career Trajectories

With so much attention on choosing a major, it can be difficult, and actually frightening for students if they are unsure or, if they begin to doubt their choice. Fortunately, UC Davis has services to help.  

At the Internship and Career Center, we recommend students explore three basic steps to find a major that fits their interests. 

1. Gain self-awareness using career self-assessments 

Career assessments can help students gain insights into who they are and what they most enjoy, which will help to prioritize their values. Two websites with free, straightforward options are: California Career Zone and CareerOneStop. 

Encourage your student to reflect on questions like these: 

  • How would I spend my day if money didn't matter? (Clarify your interests and values.) 

  • What tasks come to me easily? (Gain understanding about innate skills and abilities.) 

Additionally, your student can complete an inventory of their transferable skills which will help them look at past experiences and accomplishments and how these can translate into job-ready abilities and strengths. Specifically, thinking about volunteer work, internships, unpaid positions and leadership experience. 

2. Learn about the labor market 

Many careers exist that students may not have considered, and others that they may have a vague notion about but may not know what it takes to enter the field. In addition, new professions are being created constantly. Positions like social media manager and sustainability officer did not exist 10 years ago. 

The Internship and Career Center website hosts data on what other UC Davis students have done with their majors

Sometimes it helps to look at similar careers to determine which elements are of most interest.  For example, a career in law could range from public defender to judge. The California Career Zone presents “career families” in an easy-to-use manner and includes informative videos. 

They can get more resources on possible careers to continue their major research, and dive in! 

3. Do a reality check: Evaluate the match? 

Online information is an important starting point, but it doesn’t evaluate the fit for each student as an individual. Therefore, encourage your student to take the following steps to find a good match: 

Conduct informational interviews: Our Internship and Career Center web page can help students find people in careers of interest and give tips on how to contact them. We also offer tips on how to prepare, what questions to consider and how to conduct their interview. LinkedIn is another great resource for finding potential contacts.  

Get an internship:  The Internship and Career Center offers internship listings in a broad range of disciplines. Many require as little as 10 hours a week. An internship is a way to check out a career direction without a big commitment. 

Research with faculty:  This is a great way for students to explore careers and develop skills useful for graduate school as well as in non-academic settings. Opportunities exist for all majors.  

Get a job: Often underestimated, student jobs allow students to test-drive careers. UC Davis hires students in environments from accounting and animal care to writing and recreation, giving students the opportunity to build their professional network right here on campus. 

Remember, each person’s path is different. The Internship and Career Center is here to help your student blaze theirs. For more information on the process of choosing a major and finding a career, have your student check out our graphic that helps visualize what they can do on their quest.  

Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Parents and Families