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Purpose and Career Design

Career Myths

The world of work is always changing. With advances in technology, new jobs are created every day. As you explore major and career options, it might feel like you have to decide your whole future right now. No pressure!! Let's take a look at some common misconceptions about choosing a major and career.

Career Myth: My major equals my career. Career Reality: Most employers care more about your transferable skills and experiences than a specific major. Career Myth: My first job will be my forever job. Career Reality: The average person will have around 12 jobs in a lifetime. Career Myth: Most students have it all figured out. Career Reality: Seventy percent of M S U students change their major at least once.


Unlike the career myths listed above, research shows that your professional purpose is important. Basically, when people have a strong sense of purpose in life, they tend to be more happy and successful!

Success IN college: Purposeful young adults are more likely to...

  • Achieve higher grades and test scores
  • Engage in deep and meaningful learning
  • Graduate from college
  • Be healthy (psychologically and physically)

Success AFTER college: Purposeful young adults are more likely to...

  • Be satisfied in their life and work
  • Experience more meaningful lives
  • Be engaged with their work (or view their work as a calling)
  • Make more money

Bottom Line: By exploring and developing your professional purpose, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of success!

But WHAT is purpose?

Purpose is defined as:

  • the feeling of being determined to do or achieve something
  • the aim or goal of a person
  • what a person is trying to do or become

But what does this mean to you? Well, you can describe YOUR purpose as your life/career goals at the intersection of your:

  • skills and abilities
  • passions and interests
  • work/life values
  • ways you want to help others (societal needs)

HOW can you develop your purpose?

Purpose development may be a lifelong process, but for college students, it begins now! Here's a brief exercise designed to help explore your purpose (and connect it to your major/ career goals):

  1. Circle the words in each section of the career compass that best represent you or are most important to you. Use the blanks in each section to add any words that aren't on the list but are important to you.
  2. Identify the 2-3 most important words from each section. Write these in the blanks of the circle section connected to each box of the compass.
  3. Talk about your completed purpose/career compass exercise with someone else, such as a career advisor, an academic advisor, friend or parent. Make notes about corresponding majors and careers to explore.

Odyssey Planning: Identifying life and career goals

Career Assessments

To help you examine, understand, and talk about how your interests, personality, values, and skills combine to make you who you are.
Taking A Career Assessment

Interest Fields

Here's a great resource with details about broad list of career fields that may be of interest to you. Learn more about where you'd like to go after college.
Interest Fields

What can you do with your major?

College is about helping you develop the depth and breadth of your knowledge and skills. Here's a cool resource to help you learn more about different majors translate into likely careers.
What Can I Do With This Major?