First year is where you get your first glimpse of the possibilities that a science degree can bring.
Keep these 5 points in mind as you consider your specialization options:
1) The specialization you pursue will have an impact on your professional and personal development. It will influence the knowledge and skills you gain, the individuals you meet, and the way you observe and experience the world around you.
2) It doesn’t matter how clear your intended career plan is when you are going into the process of applying to your specialization. What matters is that you take an active role in pursuing experiences, whether coursework or otherwise, that enable you to learn what you want to learn.
3) Your academic experience will not necessarily be the most important factor influencing where your career leads you. During your time on campus and after you leave UBC, the people that you connect with, the experiences and skills you gather, the perspectives of individuals that matter to you and other external factors will all have important impacts.
4) More often than not, BSc specializations do not lead linearly towards a set of career options. In other words, specializing in Biology does not mean that you will necessarily become a biologist. In today’s world of work, a degree in biology can be applied to a multitude of interesting careers in expected and unexpected ways. Consider that UBC alumni with BSc degrees specializing in biology have gone on to work in fields as varied as healthcare, business development, education, community and social services, research, finance and many, many more. In addition, within each field there is a wide variety of types of work. The same is true for all BSc specializations and most degrees at UBC.
5) Regardless of the field of work, employers hire applicants that have skills to do the work that needs to be done and can contribute to their teams, projects and goals. As you approach questions about what you’ll do with your BSc, look for the places where your interests and abilities meet with what the world needs. That is where you will find someone willing to pay you a salary to solve a problem or tackle a task that needs to be accomplished. Or, if you are entrepreneurial, where you will find something to offer the world that it doesn’t yet know it needs!
Make an informed decision by doing these 3 things:
1) Observe & Assess
Turn your career-decision making into its own research project. Pay attention to your experiences and draw conclusions from your observations. You are most likely to find a good career fit, and a good specialization fit, if you are interested in and able to excel in what you do. Likewise, your specialization should give you opportunities to invest time and energy into gaining knowledge or developing skills that you believe to be valuable. It is that knowledge and those skills that make you desirable to an employer or graduate program.
- Where did you excel last term? Was it in a particular course, or doing a particular activity? Or, where have you seen yourself excel in the past?
- What excites, interests or energizes you?
Remember to be realistic about your applications. When you look at your choices, do the specializations that you’re interested in seem realistic for your academic performance to date? Read some information about the coordinated application if you’re unsure.
Take the ideas that you have about potential specializations and research what alumni from UBC are doing with a similar background. Or, if you have ideas about what you would like to do for a career, research the educational backgrounds of individuals that are employed in similar roles.
Have some ideas in mind? Use these research tools:
- LinkedIn Alumni Search – search UBC Alumni based on what they studied, where they work and what they do, among other things. This is a great way to see the breadth of ways that a specialization can be applied and notice what additional education or types of experiences are common for a particular field.
- Explore Careers by Specialization – Learn about potential careers including hiring requirements and job responsibilities. This resource is a great place to start thinking about what is possible but keep in mind that it does not represent the full spectrum of options.
Not sure where to begin? Try these:
- Assess your interests and abilities with a collection of resources from the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers.
- Explore the Vancouver Public Library Industry Profiles – The VPL has a wide range of great resources available to help you explore your careers.
3) Utilize these important UBC events and resources
- Meet Your Major – this annual event is a one stop shop hosted by Science Advising and SCI Team – it will give you a chance to explore and ask questions about a variety of specializations.
- Science Academic Advising
- UBC Science Specializations
- Moving from first to second year: Choosing a specialization
Allison is a Career Educator at the UBC Centre for Student Involvement & Careers and is an expert in career development. Connect with additional resources and workshop schedules from the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers online.