A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: email@example.com. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
In This Issue (08/15/03):
- Discovering self and college major
- Determining future value in job marketplace
- Wondering whether IT career still good choice
- Learning about engineering careers
|Q:||Ellie writes: I started attending college just last week. In college everybody is asking each other about their majors. I still haven’t decide what I should major. I have always had a interest in dramatic arts. But I’m afraid I can’t do it. I’m Chinese and I have a hard time trying to speak in front of people. I don’t know if I should pick dramatic arts. If I pick a wrong major now I’m afraid I will regret it later.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: My best words of advice for you — and the many many other college students experiencing similar feelings? The three R’s: relax reflect research. College is a time to really discover what the adult within you wants to do with your life — or at least the next phase of your life. Use this first year of college to really explore who you are what you like and what you want to do. Experiment. Take a variety of classes. Talk with older students in different majors. Meet with professors and talk with them about careers. Go to the career services office of your college and take some career interest assessments. Research potential majors careers and jobs. Join a variety of student organizations.
And don’t feel pressured to make any decisions right away. Most first-year students take very similar courses — regardless of their major — as most colleges have a set of foundation or core courses that all students must complete. Yes some students enter college knowing exactly what they want to major in — perhaps even knowing their career goals too — but that doesn’t mean you have to jump to any decision right away.
What should you do? Consider trying out for a small role in a college play. If you’re not taking one of these courses this semester consider taking a public speaking or theatre class next semester; even if you decide to go in a different career direction learning how to be comfortable speaking in front a group will be invaluable skill to master. You should also examine what it is about the dramatic arts that most interests you; this assessment will help you better understand yourself and other potential careers/majors should you decide not to major in dramatic arts.
For more advice and resources please read my article published on Quintessential Careers: Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path.
And for all you first-year students trying to make the transition from home and high school to college read this article on Quintessential Careers: Your First Year of College: 25 Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year and Beyond.
|Q:||Louis writes: I am 31 years old and have just completed an associate’s degree in computer networking and then went on to complete a B.S. degree in computer science. I am now studying for a B.S. in business administration then I will be continuing on for my MBA. I am currently working as a computer analyst making only $30000 a year. What types of salaries should I expect after completing all four of these degrees? I intend on being a project manager. Am I wasting my time and money on education? Or will I be able to command salaries of over 60 to 70 thousand because of the education that I intend to complete. What is a good career progression? And how should I go about progressing to that upper salaried positions.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I think far too many job-seekers put too much emphasis on salary when researching careers or conducting career planning. Yes what we earn is important to our feelings of self-worth and self-esteem but let’s not overlook the importance of the intrinsic value of enjoying what you do. So if project management really excites you — and you can make a good living doing it — then that’s a good match for you. Please do be careful of picking careers or jobs simply based on how much you’ll be able to make. And in this job market many job-seekers would love a job where they are making only $30000 a year.
I do want to congratulate you on the ability to balance working and attending classes at the same time because not everyone can do that and while it will take you longer to reach your educational and career goals you’ll be a more experienced and well-rounded job-seeker.
How can you best determine if project management is a good match for you — both in terms of your interests skills and education — as well as your salary requirements? Hit the online job boards and examine as many project management positions as you can find. Not only will this research help with your career goals but you’ll be able to compile a list of keywords and phrases that employers use when seeking project managers. Once you have those keywords you should be sure that you use them in your resumes and cover letters.
You should also consider conducting a few informational interviews with people who are currently involved in project management. Not only will these interviews help build your network you’ll also learn a great deal about the skills experience and education valued in that profession.
Go to this section of Quintessential Careers to find job sites where you can conduct research: Best Job Sites for Job-Seekers.
Learn more about informational interviewing by using the Informational Interviewing Tutorial found at Quintessential Careers.
|Q:|| Rahul writes: I am a college sophomore with computer science as my major. I am really getting worried about the fact that there are absolutely no entry level technology jobs for fresh graduates. Furthermore I have been hearing that about 35 to 50 percent of technology jobs will be offshored by 2010. I am 26 years old and by the time I get my BS degree I would be 28. I shall be grateful to you if you may please answer to the following questions:
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: It certainly does seem to be a contradiction that is worth investigating. Technology-related careers dominate the U.S Department of Labor’s list of the fastest (projected) growing jobs over the next five to ten years. At the same time a report from Forrester Research predicts that during the next 10-15 years at least 3.3 million white-collar jobs – including IT jobs — will move out of the U.S. to countries such as India China and others where labor is cheaper. Add to the mix the current job market — especially in the technology industry — and you get one confusing mess about what to expect.
Regardless of the conflicting opinions about the future of IT jobs — or any career field for that matter – what I tell job-seekers is that if you love your job/career are good at what you do have the necessary education/training/certifications and can master job-search skills then you should be able to find a job. Finding a job might take longer than you expect you might have to be open to relocating you might need to readjust your expectations and you might have to work a lot harder than you expected but you’ll find a job.
So should you continue your computer science degree? Well in reality only you can answer that question’but the jobs will be there. They may be harder to find but they will be there. Will your age be a problem? No. The currency of your skills and certifications will be more important.
And what will happen to the IT and all the other service professions as more jobs are relocated outside the U.S.? The expectation is that slowly — very slowly as the economy continues to recover and businesses start hiring again — that job creation in other companies will overtake the losses from jobs going overseas. But in all honesty it’s really too soon to tell what is going to happen’thus you need to focus on making yourself the strongest job-seeker possible.
As a college student one of the best things you can do besides getting your education is obtaining valuable experience. Consider internships and freelancing to get as much experience as you can. Go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Internship Resources for College Students.
|Q:||Christi writes: Can you send me a list of all the opportunities in engineering?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: There are entire books published on careers in engineering (such as Careers in Engineering by Geraldine Garner) so no I can’t really send you an entire list of opportunities.
Engineers are professional problem-solvers. According to the U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook ‘engineers apply the theories and principles of science and mathematics to research and develop economical solutions to technical problems.’ Read more of the report.
There are many different kinds of engineering specialties including (but not limited to) aeronautical engineering automotive engineering biomedical engineering chemical engineering civil engineering computer engineering electrical engineering environmental engineering mechanical engineering nuclear engineering and petroleum engineering. A good source with links to lots of engineering career and job sites is this page from the Career Consulting Corner: Engineering Careers.
Finally another good source of general career information as well as some specific resources for women interested in pursuing a career in engineering is the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Website. The NAE has a special section entitled Engineer Girl! which has lots of resources and links for discovering the benefits of a career in engineering for women.
You can also review other career and job information by going to this section of Quintessential Careers: Jobs in Architecture Construction Engineering.