Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Narrowing Your Focus with Focus-2!

The major exploration process can seem daunting and the process of deciding what to do with your major can be even more stressful; however, many tools exist to make this process a little less intimidating, such as FOCUS-2.  My name is Meghan Draudt and I am a Peer Career Advisor (PCA) at Career Services.  Currently I am double majoring in neuroscience and integrated physiology with aspirations in medicine, but I always had trouble deciding exactly what I wanted to do with this major.  By exploring the features of FOCUS-2 I was able to narrow down my interests in the field and even discover jobs that I didn’t know existed.  
 FOCUS-2 is a simple program to use once you sign up and is designed to assist students in their career and major exploration based on your own personal interests and skills.  FOCUS-2 is also a great resource if you are in need of a strategy or plan for reaching your already defined career goals.  For more information on how to sign up for an account and how to use FOCUS-2 in general, look through a former blog post.

As I was exploring the features of FOCUS-2, I first completed the “Academic Strengths”, the “Your Career Planning Status”, and many of the assessments listed under Self Assessment.  By answering the questions, it helped me realize what my skills and interests actually are, rather than what they should be.  I now understand the importance of being realistic when choosing a career path, and these assessments allowed me to define my true strengths and professional interests. 
"Narrow and Refine Your Results" to see careers
Once I took the assessments, I used “narrow and refine your interests” to browse through the countless occupations that matched my assessment results, many of which I didn’t know existed.  From my assessment results, I was able to realize my strong interest in medicine, but by using the “Explore the Possibilities” section, I was able to narrow down this extremely broad field to a select few occupations.  I even discovered a career path that perfectly fits my interests and that was unknown to me – neuropsychology!  Although I knew nothing about this occupation, FOCUS-2 contained all the information I needed to generally understand the field, including the job duties, values, future outlook, earnings, resources, and even what to major in. 

Another helpful approach is to use the “What can I do with a major in…?” section to see what possible jobs match with your current major.  This section helped me to discover another interesting occupation – speech pathology.  To make it easier to compare the two occupations and determine the best career path, I then used the “Compare 2 Occupations” feature, which lists all the information for each occupation side by side.  It was then simple to see which occupation has a higher salary, greater education demands, and values and skills that align with my personality. 
Compare two occupations side by side using this tool
 After this exploration, I had found many possible occupations and majors, which I then saved to my FOCUS-2 profile so that I could refer to this information as my interests and my education continue to grow and change.  FOCUS-2 is a great tool.  I highly recommend using it!