Choosing a major is the beginning of an educational journey. The next step is exploring the specializations and careers in your field. Many students struggle with where to go next, or even where to start, and need more information to decide how to spend their years at UT.
Luckily, UT is rich with experts. In order to help students find the right study and career paths, I urge professors to dedicate 20 minutes of lecture time every month for discussions about their work and field experience.
Let's be honest, not everyone begins school with an entire career plan mapped out or even with a major. Within some colleges at UT, students don’t select specializations until their second or third year.
Students in the business school declare a specific discipline when they’ve completed certain requirements, while some engineering students don’t even formally declare a specialization in their major. Majors divisions can be very broad, and many students will have to choose a subset to best use their skills.
Younger students especially need strong exposure to the branches of their major. Since some classes are only offered every other semester (or sometimes every four semesters), not knowing what you want to study can prevent you from preparing for a job or even graduating on time.
It took me two years to find a focus within my major. As a result, I’m a semester behind on course prerequisites. If I’d had the exposure to help determine my interests, I could’ve had a better opportunity to plan for my future. Talking to professors helped me figure out what I like and what I dislike.
Without their help, I might still be lost.
Professors know the difficult decisions students face. Sharing their experiences can guide those searching for the right career and allow students to make more informed decisions about their future.
“One of my professors from freshman year is the reason why I chose my major … they mixed concepts with personal anecdotes that made the lectures really captivating,” Amy Burr, a management information systems junior, said. “If other professors follow suit and share their own experiences … it’d keep students engaged and show how the classroom transfers to the real world.”
It’s clear that professors have relevant knowledge and experience to offer. However, some instructors may struggle to find time to hold these conversations given the rapid pace of most courses.
“What’s really challenging is the rush to cover all the material this semester,” Madeleine Redlick, an assistant professor of instruction in communication studies, said. “Some professors may not be willing to devote time to (career advice) they see as extra.”
However, Redlick said success outside the classroom is anything but extra.
“Having these conversations about success is a big part of what college is about,” Redlick said.
Additionally, virtual learning is sometimes more forgiving in terms of time. Twenty minutes a month translates to roughly an hour over a semester. If professors prerecord one lecture to be viewed asynchronously, an hour can easily be accommodated.
Career searching is new to most students. Finding the right one and the academic path to that career can be a daunting challenge. Professors that share their knowledge with students offer the opportunity to better understand a career.
Career insight is invaluable to students looking for the next step. It’s critical for professors to take a personal role in molding our future by sharing their stories.
Professors, we want to learn from your experiences. Your stories will introduce us to ideas we never knew about. We just might take them and change the world.
Lee is a civil engineering junior from Plano, Texas.