Congratulations on getting into your chosen graduate program. You are about to start down a path that can lead the way to the professional future you have always dreamed of. However, firstly, you will have to pick the correct degree concentration to help you make your dreams come true.
This process doesn't have to be difficult. There are certain tips you can utilize to help you pick a concentration that will align you with your career goals.
The Best Way to Pick a Degree Concentration
Conduct Your Homework
You will have to spend time researching and creating a strategy when you pick a concentration the same way you choose your major, select a program, or pick a job. Carefully read the course descriptions of the various concentrations available to you and understand the different opportunities they provide. There are links to the course syllabi in most of these course descriptions. Take the time to download the syllabi and read them closely to understand the learning objectives for each course.
Generate an understanding of what kind of practical skills and theoretical knowledge you will obtain if you choose a particular concentration and successfully complete it.
Speak With the Experts
Talk to your designated advisor to help you understand all your options and help you narrow down your choices. You can speak with your advisor and discuss the pros and cons of each idea and bounce ideas off them. They will be able to compare career outcomes of other students who have career interests and academic profiles that are close to your own. You will have time to ask questions and discuss your concerns to help you make an educated decision.
Another excellent resource is speaking with faculty members. Many practitioners and instructors in their fields have extensive knowledge of job trends in your concentration and degree. They know which industries can prepare you for success.
Speaking with an instructor who has you in their class can additionally provide personalized feedback for someone who has had the opportunity to evaluate your specific strengths and skills. They can offer suggestions regarding why concentrating on one area may be superior to another.
Allow Your Personal Experience To Guide You
What are your best strengths? Allow your past to help shape your professional future. What kinds of personal and professional experiences have been satisfying? What have your best contributions been? Utilize those experiences and aspects to gain insight into your future.
Be sure to equally reflect on which employment options and academic endeavors brought you less joy. If you despised the computer science classes you took as an undergraduate, you will most likely want to say away from an Information Security Technology concentration.
If you have been a consistent writer, you may benefit from taking Organizational Communication as your concentration. Determine where the best place to put your focus will be and jump in.
Align Professional & Academic Interests
After you have decided what kinds of skills a certain concentration will deliver, you can expand your research to determine what the demand for those skills is in the real world.
Career fairs are another excellent strategy for helping you find your goals. Networking with certain employers will offer you different insights into what kinds of training, knowledge and coursework will be necessary for the folks they are hoping to hire.
Check with your college to find out which alumni events are happening and listen to guest speakers. Become involved in any professional associations affiliated with your interests.
Don't panic if you evaluate everything and decide you don't know which concentration to take. There are options available including building a custom concentration based on your electives or opting out of a concentration completely.
If you remain focused and passionate, you will have the power to succeed no matter which approach you choose. There are different options for both a particular area of focus, or a more generalist approach.
Consider bouncing some ideas off those who know you well if you get stuck. Make a pros and cons list of your top ideas to see if any path seems clearer. Don’t make big decisions on an empty stomach or if you haven’t been sleeping well. And of course, remember, no matter which decision you make, you can always switch gears in the future.