How I Found the Degree for Me

Major exploration is a key step in finding a career path or discipline that you’ll love and can see yourself working in. My experience is reminiscent of many of my fellow Huskies, particularly undergraduates. I’ve found from meeting with students that major changes or simply searching is far more common than we may think. I fully encourage shopping around, even if you think you know what you want to do, and here’s why.

I came into my first semester of college at UConn as a Spanish major, and I remained a declared Spanish major until the beginning of my sophomore year. I was proficient in the language and I had a passion for studying it further, so I thought it would be a good place to start.

In my case, something that motivated me to truly explore all my options is the fact that I am a first-generation college student – neither of my parents went to college, and I was figuring this out on my own! My parents didn’t have any plan or preconceived idea of what they thought I should be studying simply because neither of them had obtained a degree, and they came into it all very open-minded. My strategy was to take as many general education requirements, talk to as many people, and experience as much outside of the classroom as possible. Exposure was the key for me.

After meeting with one of the advisors in the CLAS Academic Services Center in the Rowe Center for Undergraduate Education, I sat down and made a list of all the qualities I was looking for in my college degree. One important aspect of any degree program I would enroll in was flexibility – I never wanted to feel stuck in a career path because that was the only occupation my education prepared and qualified me for. Another quality I found to be important was that, in all of my previous work experience, the person-to-person component remained a constant favorite. For example, in my previous retail job, I take pride in handling customer interactions, even though retail is not a field I want to pursue as a career. What I learned from that position was how much I value that immediate, personal interaction and engagement and how much I want any future position I have to encapsulate that as well.

I am currently a junior, and I found my home in the Human Development and Family Sciences department after taking a general education course my freshman year. Everything, from the material covered in class to the instructor’s commitment to research, drew me in. When this department piqued my interest, I sought out more information about what kinds of classes they offered and looked up what kinds of careers previous UConn students have pursued after completing their degrees. You can find this information through a program called The Major Experience (TME) on the Majors to Careers page. I highly recommend looking at major profiles here that even slightly interest you.

Supplementing what I learned inside the classroom, the Majors to Careers page sold me on my degree and it continues to remind me that I am preparing well for a career that I know I will love. For example, I have strong interests in giving back, primarily working with families from underserved communities similar to where I grew up. After reviewing the Majors to Careers information and seeing positions like policy and advocacy intern and family therapy intern as possible careers, I saw that HDFS would give me a huge opportunity to pursue that work.

If you are struggling with choosing a major, there are career coaches always available to meet with you to review our resources and help guide you in the right direction. Schedule an appointment with a career coach to discuss your major and career exploration!

By Clarice Pennock
Clarice Pennock Career Intern Clarice Pennock