What If You Change Your Mind? - Smart Ways to Choose a New Career

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Changing your mind and choosing a new career involves assessing your skills and researching careers that match those skills. Explore majors and careers, assessment options, and what to do next. Updated: 10/05/2021

Major and Career

Mason is in a pickle. He's almost finished with college, and what he thought he wanted to do for his career is now not what he really wants! He's been a pre-law major since he came to college, but now he doesn't want to go to law school or be a lawyer. What can he do?

For many students, choosing a major is stressful, because they think that it forces them into a career. But what if they change their minds, like Mason? Does that mean their college degree was a waste?

Not at all! It's important to understand the difference between major and career, so let's define each of them. A person's major is the course of study they concentrate on during college. It's the subject of most of your classes. In contrast, a person's career is the occupation they engage in during their working years. It consists of the jobs that the person works.

Even though they are two different things, they can be quite closely related. A pre-law major is likely to become a lawyer, and an environmental science major is likely to do something in environmental science. But that's not written in stone, and just because a person changes their mind about what they want to do, it doesn't mean that they should just throw in the towel.

Let's look closer at what Mason and students like him should do if they change their minds.

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  • 0:03 Major & Career
  • 1:25 Assessment
  • 3:12 What to Do Next
  • 4:31 Lesson Summary
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Okay, Mason has decided he doesn't want to be a lawyer. But he's already spent over three years in college as a pre-law major! What now?

The first thing that Mason has to do is to do an assessment of his skills and needs. There are a couple of ways that Mason can approach this assessment.

1. Figure out what works and what doesn't.
The first thing Mason should do is to see what works and what doesn't, as far as the law and him. For example, perhaps he really likes debate but isn't crazy about the formal rules of court. Or maybe he likes working with people but would hate having to do all the writing that lawyers have to do. Knowing what it is that works and what doesn't work for Mason can give him a good idea of why he has changed his mind.

2. Figure out how job-specific the dislikes are.
If Mason doesn't like the law and being in court, that's something that is specific to the job of a lawyer. But what if the reason that Mason doesn't want to become a lawyer is that they have to get up in the morning and be at the office early? If he just doesn't want to have to get up before 10:00 a.m., that's a dislike that will be true of most careers. In that case, he might not want to change his career choice based on that, since he'll likely encounter it in other careers.

But, if Mason figures out that his dislikes are specific to the job of being a lawyer, then he should find a career that meets his needs and skills. For example, pre-law students can also go into politics, teach, or become mediators. For guidance on what else he can do, Mason can talk to his advisor or someone in his school's career counseling center.

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