Choosing Your Major

The Perfect Major

“What should I major in?” and “What are my career options with this major?” are common questions among students. The truth is, there are many answers. There is no perfect major for most career fields, but certain majors lend themselves more easily to particular fields.

A thoughtfully executed liberal arts education will equip you with the foundational knowledge and skills to pursue your career goals and flexibly adapt to changes in industries, technologies, and job requirements over time.

To learn more about common paths pursued by those who major in specific areas, visit our What can I do with this major? page.

Making Your Selection

Students work at classroom computer workstations.
Finding a career path often reflects a combination of students’ academic coursework and extracurricular experiences.

Rather than selecting a major based entirely on a possible career path, students should study what they love, asking:

  • What do I enjoy learning about?
  • What makes me tick?
  • Which classes do I excel in?

Career Services can help explore these questions and determine which career paths incorporate what students enjoy most about their academic studies.

Testing Career Options

The academic experience in college is one way that students prepare for careers, but equally as important are students’ extracurricular experiences. Pursuing opportunities like those outlined below can help students gain leadership experience, develop targeted skills, and begin building valuable professional networks.

Student clubs can be fun social experiences and provide valuable opportunities to engage in fields of interest.

Career Services advises students to join at least one organization related to an industry of interest. Membership and leadership within such an organization will allow you to grow professionally, developing résumé-building skills and experiences.

Colgate is home to hundreds of clubs and organizations as diverse as the oldest weekly college newspaper in the nation and Women in Computer Science.

Explore clubs and organizations at Colgate

Volunteering in the community is another way to build valuable skills, networks, and experiences. Exposure to diverse people and experiences is a significant part of preparing for “the real world” and helps students understand their own values and interests.

About Colgate’s Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education

In addition to earning a bit of money, a part-time job is a great way to explore industries. Students may pursue jobs that relate to their field of interest. For example, students considering careers in education may work part time at a daycare center.

Even when performing relatively basic tasks like checking out books at the library or swiping cards at the gym, this can be a chance to observe the environment. Students can start understanding what it takes to run a fitness facility or maintain a functioning library.

To maximize the experience, students should ask questions and offer to work on new and different tasks around the workplace.

An internship is an excellent way for students to be productive during the summer. Internships can be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, and responsibilities will vary. This flexibility allows interns to acquire essential practical skills and exposure to the world of work.

Internships are increasingly crucial for students to add to their résumés before graduating. Internships can:

  • Provide a competitive edge in the job market
  • Introduce students to industries, helping them to make career decisions
  • Start the process of building a network of professionals and references
  • Clarify and hone career objectives, and may inform future academic decisions
  • Develop professional and personal skills
  • Lead to full-time job offers


Learn more about finding an internship

Studying off campus and abroad may be an adventure, but it can also be an incredible skill- and résumé-building experience. Studying abroad offers unique opportunities to develop skills and experiences that will help students later market themselves as:

  • Adaptable
  • Cross-culturally sensitive and aware
  • Globally minded

Experiences during an off-campus semester can also help students hone interpersonal and communication skills and traits such as confidence, dependability, and maturity.

Students should also consider the many incredible career opportunities available while studying abroad. Working in an internship, networking, shadowing professionals, conducting informational interviews, or even volunteering can all be valuable experiences that pay dividends in skills, perspectives, and experiences to draw on in finding a career path and throughout one’s career.

Learn about off-campus study at Colgate

Informational interviews let students ask professionals for career and industry advice. These interviews are not about finding employment but focus on learning about educational trajectories and career paths. They can offer an insider’s perspective into an industry or particular organization.

Informational interviews may help a student understand more about:

  • Career preparation and opportunities for specialization
  • The work culture and day-to-day experience of a profession
  • How a career does or does not match one’s personality, interests, skills, strengths, and weaknesses

Informational interviews are also useful in building one’s professional network and honing interpersonal and interviewing skills.

Learn more about informational interviews