This is a question that many students ask themselves after they graduate, not before. I suggest that students who are getting ready to attend post-secondary education take the time to ask themselves this question and find the answers before they apply to their programs. According to the Model of Career Development, there are four components to successful career development and they are: assess / self-discovery; assessment/exploration; decision-making and taking action.
I believe that it is imperative that young people follow this model when they are choosing a major for their post-secondary education. That is not to say that a young person cannot change their mind after attending a post-secondary program, however research shows that successful completion of a program in university or college does depend on the student’s interest and engagement in the program. In order for the student to be engaged and interested in a program it is crucial that they take time to discover what they are interested in and where it will lead them.
Posing the question, “What can I do with this degree?” is an excellent way to begin the second phase of the career development process—exploration. If a student is familiar with their personality, skills, abilities, strengths, values and motivators then it is time that they begin to explore what careers may fit their profile and interests. Many university and college career websites answer this question for the students. For instance, Carleton University’s career centre has put together a comprehensive list of their degree programs along with the major skills the student will develop when studying that program and the common areas of employment (http://www2.carleton.ca/career/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/). A student can look at a degree program that they may be unfamiliar with and gain some insight into what they will learn and where it may lead them and that can be invaluable information for them.
As a career coach, I believe that the more exploration and research a student is involved in prior to choosing their area of study, the more successful and engaged they will be in their program and in choosing their ideal career.