Feeling Lost? The Best
Careers Change and Evolve

by Melanie Buford

A senior psychology major came into my office the other day. She dropped her bag, plopped down into a chair, and said “I’m lost!”

With relatively little prompting, the story came out. She already knew her long term goal: to be a child and family therapist. A faculty mentor had recommended a graduate program for her, and, doing very little of her own research, she applied to the program and turned her attention back to school. She was accepted, fortunately, but upon learning more about it, she realized that it was a business focused program, not a therapeutic one.

“That’s disappointing,” I said, “But it sounds like you have a good sense of what you’d like to do in the short term—graduate school—and the long term—child and family therapy.”

“No,” said the student, “you don’t understand. I’m lost. What will I do now? Program deadlines have passed. I can’t go to graduate school now. I have to wait a whole ‘nother year!”

How often does “I’m lost” mean “things didn’t turn out as I expected?”

Here’s the thing, and it’s something I tell students over and over in spite of the fact that it doesn’t reassure them at all: The best careers, just like the best lives, aren’t linear.

So many people are paralyzed by the idea of choosing a career—at the age of 20—that they’ll have to spend the rest of their lives on. This is entirely reasonable. And yet, students seem equally intimidated by the idea that their career will change and evolve in natural and unpredictable ways.

Very few people look up as a junior in college and plan out a 40-year career during which everything happens exactly as they expect it to and they are perfectly successful and satisfied. How incredibly uninspiring that would be. The purpose of college career goals isn’t to remain unchanged for half a lifetime, but instead, to interact with the world and be changed. Our mission is to let the world change us, not to make it to the finish line exactly as we started.

The most interesting people will tell you that they never could’ve predicted where their careers would end up. This is why their stories are interesting, and this is why people want to learn from them. We are inspired by people who are open to life and let it change them, people who evolve in unexpected ways.

We instinctively know this is true. Most of our career advice has this idea at its core.

Take the somewhat controversial mantra— “follow your passion.” Cal Newport* and others have come to challenge this advice as, at best, misleading, and, at worst, harmful. But there is wisdom embedded here and it isn’t “ignore practicality,” but rather, “be open to inspiration.”

The near universal emphasis on networking is yet another example. Yes, networking is indispensable in finding a job in your field of interest. This is undeniably true. But the hidden value of networking is to expose you to people and ideas outside of your comfort zone. Your family and friends typically want to help you achieve the goals you’ve identified right now. Networking exposes you to people who don’t know your background, your goals, or the ways that you may already be limiting yourself. This opens you up to serendipity, and serendipity will push you to evolve.

“I’m lost” can be the beginning of amazing things but it’s not a place of comfort.  It can, however, be a place of humility. It is often when we’re most unsure of ourselves that we’re most open to new directions.

This was the case for my senior psychology major.  After a full session during which we discussed several possible options for her newfound open year, I brought her focus back to the long-term goal of becoming a child and family therapist.

“Did it occur to you,” I asked, “that many of the clients you will work with as a therapist will have come to you because they’re feeling disappointed and lost?  Might this experience of disappointment, and perhaps a few more down the road, help to make you a better, more empathetic therapist?” Her nod was reluctant.

Our lives are full of surprises. If, as a young professional, you’re struggling with the overwhelming task of figuring out your future, I encourage you to tackle it one step at a time. If you’re still in school, focus on creating a plan for what you’ll do the year after graduation, rather than what you want to do with the “rest of your life.” Go to workshops, meet new people, travel if you can. These things will inspire you to set new goals. Most importantly, be patient with the process.

Embrace your failures and “lost” years as something inevitable and challenging. Delays to your plan can be opportunities to improve and refine it. Don’t waste these opportunities. Take full advantage.

*Newport, C. (2012). ‘Follow Your Passion’ is Bad Advice [Video file]. Retrieved from http://99u.com/videos/22339/cal-newport-follow-your-passion-is-bad-advice.

Melanie Buford is the Program Coordinator/Adjunct Instructor in the Career Development Center at the University of Cincinnati.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Careers in Music

Sheet Music

Music can inspire emotions, dreams, and actions.  Many students find so much meaning in music that they want involvement in music to be their life’s work.  Classical musicians usually train from childhood, then go on to major in music at a university or study at a conservatory.  What about the rest of the musicians and music fans out there?

The Berklee College of Music has put together an extensive list of various roles within the music industry.  You can learn more about the occupations of musicians and singers, as well as many related occupations, by visiting the Occupational Outlook Handbook.  The University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Northern Illinois University have compiled list of links pertinent to students with interests in careers in music.

Students are required to audition in order to major in music at Baylor.  However, an audition is not required to minor in music or church music.  Non-majors may also participate in bands, orchestras, and choirs, as well as registering for music classes as a non-major.  For more information on programs through the School of Music at Baylor, visit their website.

Written By: Amy Ames


Welcome to the new blog for Baylor’s Office of Career & Professional Development! We hope you are having a great start to your school year and are happy to have everyone back on campus. We just wanted to let you know more about some of our resources so that you can make sure to stop by and use them this school year.

If you are still looking for a major or wanting to make a major change we have career exploration in our office! If you go to our website www.hireabear.com you can read more about the process and make an appointment online or by calling 254-710-3771. Sign up today so you can make sure to get the time you want!

If you have already decided on a major we would also love to help with your professional development! You can stop by for a walk-in resume review during these hours to make sure that your resume is polished and ready to send out to employers. You can also make a career coaching appointment if you need help understanding the job search process at all, or just need to talk to someone about your career path. Those appointments can also be scheduled through www.hireabear.com or by calling our office.

Finally, we work with a large number of employers to make sure that they want to come to campus and work with you! if you go to www.hireabear.com and log-in to your student account you can find job postings, employer information, premium resources, and career events coming up. We do have two career fairs coming up in the next few weeks and you can find out more information about them on HireABear. If you need any help using this resource feel free to stop by or call our office and we would love to help you!

We have lots of resources available for you if you stop by our offices at Sid Richardson 132 or call 254-710-3771 to schedule an appointment or get any assistance you need. We are so excited to work with all of you this semester and hope you all have a great first day of class!

New Year, New Major?

The new year can signal a fresh start, and for some students that means a change in major.  Wherever you are in your career decision-making, the Office of Career and Professional Development has you covered.  Are you…

…considering a last-minute major change in the first week of classes?

Make an appointment with a career counselor.

…wanting to know how to make the most of your major (new or old)?

Learn how to answer the “What can you do with that major?” question with our online resources.

…looking for a strategy for your summer job or internship search?

Schedule a career coaching appointment.

We look forward to assisting you in identifying and reaching your goals!

Strengths & Vocation Seminar

Baylor’s Spiritual Life department is hosting the Be the Change Missions Conference next week, and the Career Counseling staff are taking part in the event this year.  On Thursday, September 20th, students will have the opportunity to explore how their strengths relate to vocation.  This seminar will emphasize how strengths can be used to glorify God and contribute to His work here on Earth, whether or not the occupation has traditionally been considered ministry.  This session will build upon students’  Clifton StrengthsFinder report.  Most students take the assessment just prior to starting their first year at Baylor.  If you are interested in attending this session, but you have not taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, please contact the Career Counseling office for instructions.

More information on the Be the Change Missions Conference, including the Strengths and Vocation Seminar can be found here.

Using O*NET OnLine to Discover Career Possibilities

 O*NET OnLine is a resource of the US Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration, and it is also one of the primary tools that we use in Career Counseling to assist students in gathering occupational information.  Job duties, salary data, and much more can be obtained from this tool.  This post will review several techniques for accessing information in O*NET.  Of course, you could always just type a keyword into the search box and wait to see what comes up.  There are some more strategic ways to use this site, though.

From the home page, click “Find Occupations” in the bar across the top of the screen.

From this page, you are given several options.  If you are currently participating in career counseling through our office, or if you have in the past, you can use your results from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® to identify Job Families that you would like to explore.  O*NET allows you to search by these same job families. 

If you click “Advanced Search” in the bar up top, you can search the site by Interests.  These interests represent the same themes discussed on the Strong Interest Inventory.

There are also ways to search for Green jobs (those that could have an emphasis on environmental protection and stewardship) and jobs where rapid growth is projected.

As always, if you have questions about identifying an occupation that is a great fit for you, contact us to schedule an appointment for Career Counseling.

Save the Date for the University-Wide Majors Fair

October 16, 2012 is a very important date.  From 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm, you will have the opportunity to meet with faculty representatives from more than 100 different academic programs at the University-Wide Majors Fair.  Students can gather information and ask questions about majors, secondary majors, and minors.  The event, hosted by the Department of Career Counseling, will take place on the 2nd floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center during Dr Pepper Hour.  Click here to view a list of programs that will be represented at the event.  This list is continuously updated as departments notify us of their plans to attend, so check back frequently.  We hope to see you there!

Back to School, Back to Major and Career Decision Making

Welcome to our newest Baylor Bears, and welcom back to our returning students!  I hope your summer provided time for rejuvenation, relaxation, and most of all…career exploration opportunites.  If you follow this blog, you will quickly learn that we advocate for major and career exploration even at the earliest stages of your college experience.  Why, you might ask?

The answer is that most of you will one day try to obtain a full-time job.  For the majority of you, your college degree on its own will not be the golden ticket to employment.  Your relevant experience and your network are critical components, too, and these elements cannot be developed overnight.  Our hope is that you have already started learning about yourself and seeking ways to gain exposure to and experience in the world of work.  It is important to remember that it is never too late to start, and this is an ongoing process.

Career development can be much more targeted if you have a clear goal in mind of where you are headed, even if the goal may change.  How can you obtain relevant experience if you do not know what is relevant?  Are you unsure of your major or career goals?  The Career Counseling staff are here to help you.  We offer a process designed to help you with self-exploration, major and career comparison, and action planning.  Our services are free and confidential.  Please take this valuable opportunity to invest in your future.  You can request appointments by visiting our website and clicking the red “Request an Appointment” button on the right-hand side of the page.  We look forward to working with you!

For Students Considering Law School

I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of resources from Baylor Law School that are designed to help prospective law students decide if law school is right for them.  Aptly named Is Law School Right for You?, the first article poses some basic questions to help you make this significant decision.  Students who wish to go a bit deeper might enjoy reading the Day in the Life profiles of current students at Baylor Law.

If those articles leave you feeling inspired, visit Baylor’s Pre-law website to help you craft your path to law school.  Keep in mind that law schools do not have specific prerequisite courses, nor do they prefer specific majors.  For assistance with major selection, please contact Career Counseling.


Do You LOVE Your Major?

Do you agree with any of the following statements?

  • I want a career that I am passionate about.
  • I want to love what I am studying.
  • I want a job that I enjoy so much that I would do those same tasks if I wasn’t getting paid.

Not every student identifies enjoyment as a high priority in their major and career, but many students do.  If it is a priority to you, is your current area of study fulfilling that need?  If you are dissatisfied in your current major or feeling uncertain about your career direction, take a moment to schedule an appointment with Career Counseling.  It could be the first step in identifying a major and career that you love.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?