Sean Baxter

Step 1: Define your passion. Step 2: How do you make money in your defined passion? Step 3: How much money would you realistically make? Step 4: Are you happy with the results of these questions? If yes, you are done. If not, repeat step 1 with the next passion in your heart. Sean Baxter Theater; Interactive Design Engineer at Hewlett-Packard

Find out more about your career options by researching industries. You can do this by connecting with professionals, reading online resources, and gaining hands-on experience through the UVA Career Communities, volunteering, clubs, and internships.

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Connecting with those that you admire, know, and trust can open your eyes to trends, perspectives, and opportunities in your desired career field. Learn more about Networking >

Informational Interviewing

Informational interviewing is the process of gathering career information from people who are already working in occupations, organizations, or geographic locations you find interesting. Learn more about Informational Interviewing >

Online Resources

The Univeresity of Virginia Career Center recommends the following resources (and more!) to help students with industry research. 

  • Career Insider by VAULT: Download Vault guides to learn more about a certain industry, including employment and earnings statistics and what employers look for in job candidates. Access this resource in Handshake by selecting the Resources tab, then selecting the Career Exploration section. 
  • Occupational Outlook HandbookMaintained and updated by the U.S. Department of Labor, the handbook provides in-depth information on hundreds of careers. This tool allows a lot of flexibility in searching and provides a basic understanding of the basic educational, and experiential requirements for entry into various fields. The handbook is also incredibly useful for learning about overall industry trends like average salaries, rates of growth for occupations, and geographical locations for occupations.
  • The Riley GuideRiley Guide is a great overall career resource and provides a lot of industry specific information. Similar to both the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net in versatility but with some unique features as well.

Career Communities

You can visit our community pages to research industries, find opportunties, and explore resources releated to your interest areas. 

Academic Resources

Barbara Weckstein Kaplowitz UVA '79

If you think you have a good idea of what you'd like to do after college, consider declaring early in your first year. This allows you to focus on getting your major requirements completed early, and allows you to expand your academic reach during third and fourth year. Barbara Weckstein Kaplowitz Rhetorical Theory and Mass Communications '79, Owner, Big Huge Ideas

The University of Virginia has many academic resources that will help you explore options for your future. 

  • UVA Undergraduate Majors
  • Association DeansTo facilitate academic advising, every student is placed in an advising "Association." Your Association Dean's primary responsibility is to advise you on academic matters and refer you to the various agencies and offices the University has established to assist you. Do not hesitate to call on your Dean.With the exception of Echols Scholars, Students Athletes and Transfer Students, whose Dean is determined by their affiliation in one of these groups, your Dean is determined by your first-year housing assignment. The College deans and staff are located in Monroe Hall.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Advisors: Faculty advisors are assigned to each College undergraduate student; they assist students with: choosing a major, selecting courses, making long range plans, and finding appropriate persons with similar academic interests.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Directors of Undergraduate Programs: Each major in the College is overseen by a Director of the Undergraduate Program. Students with questions about courses offered by the department, major requirements, opportunities for majors, declaring a major, etc. should contact this person.

Knowing What's Involved in A Career Choice

Mary Wood '06

Choose a major you love—you can always build your job skills on the side through an extracurricular activity or job. Mary Wood BA English, MA English '06; Chief Communications Officer at the University of Virginia School of Law

 Choosing a major and/or career path can feel like a heavy decision to make. It is important to know what's involved in a career choice and that decision making includes both knowing and doing. Here, you will be introduced to knowing and led through doing in order to make a more informed decision.

Before making a career choice, evaluate what you know about yourself, your options, how you make decisions, and how you think about your decision making.

Knowing Yourself Knowing Your Options How Do You Make Decisions?
programs of study/majors
UVA activities
internships and jobs

Thinking About Your Decision-Making

Avoid negative self-talk

Be aware of your approach to decision making and listen to your self-talk for words like always, never, and should. Using these absolute terms can make it hard to move forward. Examples of negative self-talk include:

  • “I’ll never be able to choose a major that I like.”
  • “If I choose this major I can never do this as a career.”
  • “I’m not a math person, so I can’t major in psychology because I would have to take statistics.”

Reframing negative self-talk

You can restate or reframe the negative self-talk above into more helpful phrases. For example:

  • “If I find majors that match my interests and skills, I’ll find an option I will enjoy.”
  • “Math is not my strength, but I can talk to the psychology advisor about the kind of math required for statistics before I exclude it as a major.”
  • “If I choose this major that I enjoy, I can obtain an internship that is relevant to my future career aspirations.”

How to Make Good Decisions

Using a step-by-step decision-making process usually leads to better results. The steps shown below can help you engage in the decision-making process and can be repeated as you make future career choices. They are intended to be action-oriented and tailored to your unique needs. 

Christine Milton '13

Life is full of choices. Choose what you love and be prepared to work harder for what you want, or choose what you think is best and be prepared to handle regret. Christine Milton Sociology '13; Financial Analyst

  1. ENGAGE, or knowing you need to make a choice, is a unique experience for everyone. Whether course registration deadlines are approaching or your friends and relatives are asking questions, now is your opportunity to identify some of the factors influencing your career decision.
  2. UNDERSTAND, or understanding yourself and your options means learning more about yourself by identifying values, interests, and skills that are important to you. Becoming familiar with your options incorporates an understanding of majors and occupations in relation to the world of work.
  3. EXPLORE, or expanding and narrowing your list of options, involves creating a list of several opportunities that fit your values, interests, and skills. Then, narrow that list by picking 3-5 options using what you learned from the “Understand” step of the cycle.
  4. EVALUATE, or choosing a major or career, includes weighing the costs and benefits of each option, ranking them, and then making a decision. At this point, an alternative or back-up choice can also be evaluated in case you encounter obstacles with your initial choice.
  5. ACT, or implementing your choice, takes time and effort to specify unique action steps to execute your chosen plan for education or training and to futher confirm your choice.
  6. REFLECT/EVALUATE, or knowing you made a good choice, means looking back at your initial goals and thinking about what you have accomplished, including noting the reactions of others and your own thoughts and feelings about your decisions. Notice that you have returned back to STEP 1, “ENGAGE,” to make your next career decisions. You always repeat the process when changing your choice.