#034 Overcoming College Major Confusion
In this episode of College & Career Clarity, Natalie Schwartzkopf, a former student of mine who’s pursuing a chemical engineering bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, shares her success story. She shares invaluable insights and encouragement on how to overcome obstacles while inspiring others with her journey to college major-career clarity and successful college career.
Natalie’s transformative experience from high school student to a college junior all started when she worked with me on finding the “right fit.” As you know, I’m a huge proponent of ensuring the upcoming college curriculum and career trajectory fits who your teen is as a person. There are many important aspects to fit. Still, one of the most significant parts can be matching your teen’s natural talents and wiring to their future job.
Natalie did just that by utilizing a personality assessment that allowed her to see just how much activity and movement she needed in her future career. By understanding what types of environments and routines work best for her, Natalie has avoided going in the wrong direction and having to backtrack. What’s more, the importance of job shadows and career research truly hit home for Natalie. One fateful experience helped her find her college major and future career.
She took it to the next level with her internship and professional organization work, which sets Natalie apart from others. Natalie put in the work to develop impactful connections, and her future looks all the brighter for it.
With your teen getting ready for their next steps, I highly encourage you to heed Natalie’s insightful advice and start your teen’s major and career fit research now. Also, help them to remember, as Natalie expertly illustrates, that the work doesn’t stop once they’ve gotten into college. Career research should continue throughout the college experience to confirm that they’re heading down the right path.
The work does pay off, as you can see. Even after over seventy internship applications and waiting months for a reply, Natalie is seizing the learning opportunity and expanding her exposure through this fantastic experience.
- The steps in Natalie’s journey to college major and career clarity starting in high school
- How the Birkman personality assessment identified attributes that helped her find her fit
- The value of learning-living communities in college
- Tips on getting internships and overcoming roadblocks
- Different specialties of chemical engineers
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Links mentioned in this episode
University of Dayton’s WISE Learning-Living Community
[2:25] I welcome Natalie to the podcast to share her advice and how she got started with me doing the Berkman assessment.
[4:42] Assessments like the Berkman can provide us, as parents, more information about our children’s strengths and areas of difficulty.
[5:42] Natalie’s job shadow not only provided a fun chance to learn about a career but also truly provided critical information about what type of career suited her, showcasing the world of food flavor science.
[9:53] Her job shadow provided so much exposure. Still, another tool Natalie suggests using is making a list of intriguing careers, whether they’re related to your teachers or parents. Conducting job research to determine the major is just what I teach in the Lodge Career Clarity course.
[11:25] While Natalie started doing her college visits later in the process, the Women in Science and Engineering at Dayton overnight event that toured the campus truly made a profound impact.
[13:27] She put in the work but starting college is still a big adjustment. During freshman year, she agreed with her roommate to live in the WISE Living Learning Community.
[14:56] As a Junior, Natalie is still interacting with WISE and is now an ambassador. I certainly consider her a success story because she put in the work to find these great resources and opportunities.
[16:32] The Living Learning Community experience exposes you to many different aspects of the STEM world, which can be very beneficial.
[18:03] I always teach in the Launch course that professional organizations can be fantastic. Natalie is a shining example of its benefits as a part of AICE.
[19:44] A professional organization can even help you with the social fit you need when looking for your new college.
[21:10] Internships can be a challenge, but Natalie stuck it out, and in a post-COVID world, she found success.
[23:09] After months of waiting, Natalie got a positive response. The key to her perseverance and commitment was staying organized and determined.
[25:57] Natalie’s internship is doing its job- confirming her solid fit and providing a great experience that will serve her incredibly well in the future.
[28:40] Even when an internship isn’t exactly what you plan on doing, it can provide exposure and certify that you do, in fact, want to go into that field.
[30:30] Starting early is crucial work when reading your teen for college. I suggest knowing your major as soon as possible by using the tools provided through College & Career Clarity and the planning tips you’ve gotten from Natalie.