CTRAIL_Cover-02With summer coming to an end and the academic year fast approaching you may find yourself trying to squeeze in a few last minute trips and moments of relaxation. Take the next few weeks to also think about some goals you have for this coming academic year, whether they are academic, professional or personal. Here are a few tips for starting the academic year off right!


  • If you don’t already have one, go out and get yourself a planner: writing out assignment due dates, work schedules, classes and midterm days and times can help you stay on track
  • Write out a list of all your commitments for this coming academic year including classes, clubs, organizations, work responsibilities.

Set Measurable Goals

  • Write out goals for yourself, both short term and long term, and make a list of the steps you can take to accomplish those goals. Set a timeline of when you want to have them completed.  Once you have completed one goal, set another.
  • Meet your Academic Advisor or visit a Career Counselor.
  • Make a point to meet with your Academic Advisor early in the term to plan out the academic year, talk about career goals and make sure you are on track with meeting your degree requirements.
  • If you find yourself struggling to choose a major, consider meeting with a Career Counselor; they can help you outline your strengths and interests as well as prompt you with questions to start thinking about your future.

Get Involved:

  • Depending on your level of commitments, consider getting involved with a new club or organization on campus, completing an internship or getting a part-time job.  All of these opportunities will build your resume and enhance your skill set.  You can check out internship and job opportunities on Beaver JobNet.

Posted by Ciara Lynn – Career Services Internship Coordinator

While the economy is still mired in a recessive state, slowly working itself back towards high employment and higher wages, it seems that the students who find it hardest to get a job upon graduation are those who major in the humanities or liberal arts. While engineers, scientists, and accountants slot easily into new jobs, English, history, and philosophy majors find themselves only able to apply for jobs that are marked with the dreaded “All Majors Welcome” label. This is not a slight on those who receive a job, merely a factual statement that demonstrates the complete reversal the United States had undergone since C.P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” – Science vs. Humanities – in the early 1960s.

I myself am a historian, someone who got his bachelor’s degrees in 4 years and then graduated in 2010, right in the middle of the worst recession since the 1920s. My options were few and far between, and no matter how hard I looked, jobs never appeared. Instead –and perhaps against my own best judgment – I chose to return to school, again choosing history for my graduate program. As I plan to graduate in June of this year, I find myself stressing over the thought of looking for and applying to jobs. It is not the process that scares me, but rather, the fear of being told “No” or, worse yet, not being told anything at all.

While this may seem somewhat depressive and very much not arguing for the humanities as the title implies, the realization that students in the humanities have a harder time finding a job has actually changed my perspective and opened my eyes to the possibilities that we sociologists, historians, and language majors can offer to the professional world.

As a history student, the skills that I have learned and the knowledge that I have gained may seem like little more than a memorization of names, dates, and facts to an outsider. However, to me, I know that I now possess critical thinking skills that allow me to synthesize and evaluate a variety of sources and compile them into a larger body of work that conveys a new importance and a new meaning. I have gained a knowledge and appreciation for different cultures and their histories, allowing me to connect with their stories and better understand what they have gone through. Similarly, I now have better communication and collaboration skills, working efficiently and effectively with others to succeed in ways that others cannot.

When I graduate from OSU, I may not become a historian and my understanding of a war or a famous historical figure may never again come in handy. That does not make my degree in the humanities a failure or a waste of time, rather it demonstrates that sometimes the content of what we learn is not the most important, but rather, it is the context, the process, and the manner in which we learn that will truly help us in the future.

Posted by Peter Rumbles, Career Services Assistant

The most daunting aspect of your senior year of college is not the heavy course load or the thought of no longer being a college student. Rather, it has to do with the job search – the long and arduous process of looking for a career that can simultaneously utilize your unique talents and your brand new $100,000 education.

I spent my formative college years doing all the right things – playing a club sport, working part-time jobs, applying for summer internships, getting good grades – and yet when I began to look for a job in my field – History – I found myself at a loss. I had labored under the impression that if I chose a major in an area that I enjoyed, there would be jobs in that field awaiting me upon graduation. Boy was I wrong.

After an initial and unsuccessful search, I realized that if I wanted to work, I needed to look for jobs that, while not necessarily in my academic field, required the same sorts of skill set that I already possessed. Though history is perhaps not the most glamorous or specific major, I knew that the skills I had learned in my classes covered a variety of areas that could help me to land a job. Though I would no longer be writing history papers or reading vast amounts of text, I knew that the skills that I had learned in those courses were transferable and could help me succeed.

To many, a history paper is bogged down with names, dates, and places, and offers little outside of an academic setting. However, I knew that they included much more. Time management, research and writing skills, and creating concise and influential arguments were all important lessons that could be transferred to other fields. The work it requires to successfully research and write a paper – for any class or major – is not one that should be viewed lightly. It takes a great deal of intelligence, self-discipline, and effort to succeed in college, and employers know that. All employers look for employees that can work with a team and independently, can organize their thoughts and their tasks to stay on track, and who remain vigilant and detail oriented to get the job done. In every major, though these skills are not explicitly taught, they are always gained.

Though I did not receive my dream job right out of college, I know that the skills I learned in and out of the classroom during my undergraduate years prepared me to succeed in a variety of disciplines. With the experience I gained in those jobs, I was able to strengthen my résumé, obtain an understanding of a variety of disciplines, and create professional contacts that eventually helped me obtain a job in my desired field.

Post by Peter Rumbles, Career Services Assistant and Oregon State University Graduate Student

Have you ever wondered if there was a course you could take that was tailored specifically to students needing help with choosing their major, or even better yet, what to do with their major?  Well if you have, you’re in luck here at Oregon State University. Career Decision Making is the name of the course recommended to first and second year students who don’t know what it is they want to do yet. It’s not just a class we offer here at Oregon State, but a process to help guide you in making probably one of the biggest and most important decisions of your life, choosing a major and a career path.

The course is designed to help students gain a better understanding of their interests, values, and abilities as they relate to the world of work. The class is taught by the UESP (University of Exploratory Studies Program) advisors. It provides freshman and sophomores here with a guided career exploration in a classroom environment. Class meetings are held two times per week, one of those times being with a large group of students for a lecture and the other day they meet with a smaller group, usually around  fifteen students, for recitation.

Of course everyone wants to have their dream career after finishing college, but it’s not a reality for most people. Students who are uncertain about their career or major could benefit from taking our Career Decision Making course. The purpose is to help students explore their options in a supportive environment without embarking on an unknown journey all alone.

During the first four weeks of class, students learn about self assessment through a decision making model. Self-assessment includes taking assessments like the Strong Interest Inventory© and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© to help clarify personal interests and preferences. Weeks five through eight, students are involved in the exploration of academic and career options. Then, weeks nine and ten, students finally take action and make decisions!

The course also offers beneficial information about OSU’s on campus resources to help guide students in their career decision making process once the course has ended. One of the main on campus resources stressed to students during the course is Career Services. Career Services offers career counseling which helps students continue their exploration process, they also provide mock interviews, Career Fairs in the Fall, Winter, and Spring terms, resume, cover letter, reference page, and curriculum vitae help and much more!

I have interviewed one of our very own Career Assistants from Career Services here at Oregon State University, Samantha Kerzel, about her experiences with this course. “Before this class I was a UESP (University Exploratory Studies Program) student, taking lots of BAC classes to help with my search. However, without the resources we utilized, I would not have declared a major in English the following term, and would not know that I want/need to attend graduate school.” Sami also states that the course recommended she stop in to Career Services to get help from a career counselor with the brainstorming process of a future career. “I would definitely recommend this course to students who are either undecided, or trying to figure out if their major is right for them, because it really makes you reflect and decide on career that is a good fit. I would not, however recommend this class to someone who is not going to take it seriously, and who is expecting someone to tell them what job to do.” I hope Sami’s success story with this course and the information provided on it will help you students out there struggling with declaring a major to find one that fits best for you. Good luck!


Posted by Anne Lapour, Career Counselor

booksAre you a liberal arts major?  Do you take joy in the beauty of a classic novel, love a good historical drama, or perk up at the thought of your Abnormal Psychology class?  If so, you’ve probably heard the following question at least once (if not 100) times…

So what are you going to do with a major in ______? (Insert major)

Now, if you’re anything like many of liberal arts students who make their way to Career Services, you haven’t quite figured out the answer to that question.  (And that’s entirely okay, by the way.)  There are very legit reasons for this.  Perhaps you’re multitalented and can therefore envision yourself in multiple work settings.  Perhaps you’re simply not sure what the options are for someone with your degree.  Perhaps you’ve been told that all you can do with an English major is teach.  Well, I have good news…

A Liberal Arts major is one of the most flexible, adaptable, well-rounded degrees you can earn.

It’s true.  Liberal Arts majors are masters of communication, analytical reasoning, identifying patterns and themes, brainstorming ideas, and solving interpersonal problems.  These are the skills you gain from completing a group presentation on Shakespearean sonnets.  And they also just happen to be useful in the world of business.

Business expert (and former English major) Susan de la Vergne states:  “[Businesses] need leaders who understand where people ‘are coming from,’ who can communicate vision and direction, who demonstrate adaptability and political awareness.  They want leaders who are willing to slog through difficulty and navigate ethical complexity.”  And she says businesses should look no further than a Humanities Department, or a College of Liberal Arts.

So, you might be thinking “Great, perhaps I am employable…now how do I convince others?”  Here’s the thing:  YOU need to believe it, in order to make EMPLOYERS believe it. That’s right—you need to perceive and tout your liberal arts degree for everything it is (challenging, useful, transferable), instead of doubting it for everything it’s not (engineering). 

Are you ready to branch out?  To look beyond the classroom for ways to use those transferable skills you’ve honed in your European History classes?  Here’s how you can a) convince yourself of all those transferable skills, and then b) articulate those skills to potential employers:

1. Visit Career Services: We’ll help you revise and craft your resumes and cover letters to better communicate the ways you can contribute to today’s world of business (or non-profit organizations).  Make an appointment with a career counselor by calling 541-737-0529.

2. Gain Experience:
If you can build your repertoire of work and/or professional experiences (volunteer opportunities, internships, etc), you’ll begin to see first-hand how you might utilize your liberal arts degree in a work environment.

3.  Check out the resources: The following blogs have excellent information for liberal arts students…
The Liberal Arts Advantage—For Business (For example, see this post on crafting your “elevator pitch” to a potential employer.)
For English Majors

4.  Know Yourself: Spend some time getting to know your unique strengths.  You never know when the professional opportunity you’ve been seeking will arise.  Be ready.

textbooks-main_FullPosted by Anne Lapour, Career Counselor

As a counselor over in Career Services, I talk with students almost every day who need to declare a major, or who want to change majors.  Generally speaking, students have a major or two in mind when they come to see me.  And often the first question out of their mouth is…What can I do with this major?  What jobs correspond with this major out in the real world?

It’s a legitimate question.  But it’s a tough one too, because it’s not uncommon for people to find satisfaction in a job that doesn’t seem directly related to their college major.  There are certainly exceptions, but Major does NOT always equal Career.

So where to begin?  If you’re considering a specific major, start by researching the course curriculum.  This may seem obvious, but people often skip this step.  And think about it–if you take a look at the course requirements and it looks hideous in your eyes, you’re not going to want to spend 4 years studying it.  Choose a major that you can see yourself studying…and perhaps even enjoying.  If you’re interested in your major, chances are you’ll find it easier and more fulfilling–leaving you extra time and energy to pursue the hands-on experiences or internships that will make you truly marketable by the time you graduate.

Obviously, this isn’t the only consideration when choosing a major.  But it’s a place to start.  Here’s a link to all the majors at Oregon State…click a few, and navigate your way through the department websites to find the undergraduate course curriculum for your chosen degree.  Does it look appealing?  Then you’re one step closer to choosing a major.

Choosing a majorMost everyone can relate to the experience they had going through orientation prior to beginning school at OSU. Meeting all new students from various backgrounds posed the same formulaic interaction: “Hi, what’s your name? Where are you from? And what’s your major?” Deciding on a major is a cornerstone of the collegiate world. We understand that what we major in is our expertise, our field of perfection, what we should and will do with our lives. But, does a major really matter? Does your field of expertise actually dictate how you will spend the majority of your life?

Rosanne Lurie, a career counselor who has worked both at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco states that, “Your interests and abilities lead to the decision of a major and a career after that, but there isn’t always a direct relation between the two. A major doesn’t predetermine what you end up doing.” While choosing a major in college is important, it does not necessarily indicate how you will spend your career. In reality, a major simply makes you qualified for a variety of career options. Choosing a major isn’t actually the experience that is making you most qualified for a career, rather the collegiate experience itself is refining the skills employers are looking for, like communication, teamwork, interpersonal skills, and more.

Choosing a major can be a daunting process, but in the grand scheme of life, it’s nice to put into perspective how much what you major in really matters. Read more about how much your major matters here.