Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School - Decide on a Degree

What do you want to do with your life?  Who the heck knows the answer to this question when they're 18?! If you're 18 or younger and you know what you want to do with your life, good on you.  Seriously.  I admire your style. I certainly didn't know.  And when I graduated with my bachelor's degree, I still didn't know.

A few years later, I have a better idea.  Now I'm choosing a master's degree.

Analyzing yourself - What courses have you enjoyed in the past?  I was really into the marketing class that I took during my first four years of college.  So interested that I recorded each lesson so I could go back and listen to the ones that inspired me.  Asking yourself what parts of each of your previous jobs you loved or hated is also a good way to analyze yourself.

Job searching - I've found this is the best way to determine what degree I would like to pursue.  I typically use Indeed.com for my job searches. (Full disclosure: I have never gotten a job that I learned about through Indeed.  I very rarely ever got interviews from jobs I learned about through Indeed.)  However, Indeed has a nice feature that will send new job postings to any of your customized searches to your email, and I'm a total dreamer.  Vitamin C implied that you'd think it's so cool.

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Sidenote: a) check out those cool 90's moves! b) wish I looked that good in yellow. c) I fell down the rabbit hole of 90's music and lost an hour of my life.

Look at some of the jobs you'd love to have.  I created a spreadsheet with some of mine, writing down the title, organization, degree requirements and experience requirements.  I got at least a 3 job postings per dream job to compare, and eventually I knew exactly what it'd take.

Talk to people - Once you narrow down a few degrees, talk to a few people who earned that degree and ask them how it helped them land a job.  Were there a ton of options out there?  Did their degree make them feel pigeonholed?

What Didn't Work for Me:
Tests - All those career tests told me what I may be good at, but not what I would love.  They didn't help me at all.

Asking others how they found their mojo - What I did discover is that most people haven't.  And the ones that have say "they just knew".  Maybe people just didn't want to talk to me.

Working within tight timeframes - "I have to decide before I graduate high school!", "I have to decide before my sophmore year of college!", "I have to decide before I graduate with my BS so I can apply for an MS!"  I felt pressured.  I felt like I was making decisions because they had to be made.  I needed a little time with less pressure.

My decision:  Marketing


Ironically, the first class of my Master's degree was Decision Making Analysis.  Why don't they teach you this in highschool?!  One of the first techniques we learned was so applicable that I have to share.  This one is for all you number freaks like me.

Step 1: List your potential majors on a sheet of paper with some space in between.
Step 2: List the pros and cons about each one.  Try to keep the total pros/cons the same (how I did 3 for each)
Step 3: Rate each one on desirability from -100 (completely and utterly undesirable) to 100 (super-awesome-fun-time)
Step 4: How likely is this pro or con to happen? Give each a percentage.
Step 5: Get a rating for each pro/con by multiplying desirability times the probability.  Don't forget your negatives!
Step 6: Total your ratings for each major.  The one with the highest total rating might just be your winner.

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